Grandpa Mac’s Call-To-Action for the Upcoming Generations.
When did the skin of America become so damn thin? Remember when we were the chapped, rebel, bad-asses on the block? I do. Anymore we act like a bunch of pampered playboys (and girls to be P.C.) looking for the cheapest and easiest route to the corner office, or even worse, to daddy’s trust fund. When did it become an insult to expect even a modicum hard work before getting a reward?
So, here’s my “Old Fart – When I Was Younger” rant for the upcoming generation.
My grandfather went from the middle of high school straight into the Navy and then on to the railroad yards at the age of 24. He worked there until he retired at a well-seasoned, crusty 67 years old. Grandpa Mac was proud to say he had enough coin in his pocket to support his beautiful bride and two daughters. He provided his girls with the best home and the best education possible, and from there they went on to college and start their own families. Did Mac resent the long journeys on the rail, taking him away from special events with his family? Yes. Did he hate working his hands to the bone through he freezing Midwest winters and boiling summers? Yes. Did he bitch about it? No.
I remember sitting on Mac’s knee at the breakfast table in the early 70’s. Even then, at my young age, I saw the life he’d lived in the deep furrows in his face and cheeks. Half shaven and sleepy-eyed, he’d grumble little quips of advice to me as I looked up into his deep-set eyes.
“You’re a smart one, aren’t ya, kiddo?” he’d start out, with a poke to my chubby bare chest, and taking another long drag of his Camel cigarette he’d continue, “you better not waste it, boy,” and then grunt-chuckle out his amusement with himself. The smoke would roll out of his face like a dragon, making his point even more palpable.
My 5-year old self suddenly understood the value Grandpa Mac put on hard work. He never said “Don’t do it the way I did.” He never said “I regret my lot in life.” He knew that to succeed, in any aspect, the under-educated man or the immigrant or “less privileged” needed to work harder. That’s it. He needed to work harder to gain equality, to gain respect, to gain independence. So Mac did, and we all benefited from it.
I’m now 44, and as I watch the generations behind me crawl from the cushy Clinton – Gore, money mongering, status hungry primordial ooze of the 1990’s and the early 2000’s, I wonder, “Didn’t these pups have a Grandpa Mac around to make them understand the value of a hard day’s work? Didn’t their parents, who may have been just one or two generations removed from good ol’ Grandpa Mac, teach them that the more you put in, the more you get out?”
I fear not.
And before you “pups” get all up in arms about my bashing of your generation, please keep in mind, that my parents and the generation before them were terrified that MY generation, the whole Duran Duran-loving, rat-tailed, with pegged Guess jeans, androgynous lot of us were going to drink, screw, smoke and video game ourselves into an oblivion. But we didn’t.
Somewhere, somehow we grew up. Somewhere we realized that the days of “The Preppy Handbook” and PacMan were silly and superficial, and a waste of time. Some didn’t and have gone on to look pretty frickin’ stupid for it. But the vast majority of our generation, “Generation X” has taken responsibility for our own futures and only expect what we can create for ourselves. The hippies of the Baby-Boomer generation may lacerate their their cirrhotic nether-regions by the fact that today, we have a black President, but that wouldn’t have happened without the progress our generation made with the fires they started.
So it’s time. It’s time to figuratively pass the flame to the next generation. Yes, you, Generation Y and Millennials (as well as some of our younger X-ers), you need to get your shit together and grow up. Generation X is now over 30% of the workforce – much of which is in control of companies all over the World. You’re just going to have to pay your dues to get the corner office. Your daddy’s trust fund has been depleted by bad politics, bad marriages and mistresses or was torched in your redneck neighbor’s meth lab. Look around. What’s left to suck from?
Work has always been America’s friend. No more outsourcing the “menial” jobs to 2nd and 3rd World countries. Bring ’em back and get your asses to work. Yes, for minimum wage or less. Every generation before you flipped burgers of one kind or another – whether it was on a grill at any number of McDonalds throughout our flourishing country or the figurative burger-flipping as laborers, construction workers, tire builders, hairdressers, or other jobs that you’ve deemed “under your position.”
Your dreams of exiting college and becoming the next CEO of a multi-billion dollar company are wasting your time, what’s left of your parents’ money and honestly the patience of the rest of our country. The longer you wait for that 6-figure salary the faster China, India and Mexico encroach on what future we have left to give you.
So, buck up you pansy-ass sloths, and get some balls that are worthy of your American heritage and get to work helping fix our country. If the next scruff-faced, un-tucked, un-combed, “hipster” I interview for an entry-level position proposes full partnership with options to buy, I’m going to squarely shove my aching, arthritic foot, ankle and carcinoma’d shin right up their ass.
As for Grandpa Mac, he’d be ashamed of the America he left behind just a decade ago. So, in his voice, I write this. With his passion, I carry this flag. From his heart I pass on the vision of a life created by him and his children for future generations.
Now, I have to get back to work. Maybe you should too.
Andrew B. Clark