At the suggestion of a friend, and then a neighbor, I went to a different grocery store a couple of weeks ago. It’s one of those discount places with minimal selection and even fewer name brands. And I’m okay with that if it means saving a few bucks.
But the place has a few quirks that a foreigner like me had to figure out.
If you want to use a grocery cart, you have to slide a quarter into this little contraption attached to the top of it. You get your quarter back if you return the cart.
The checkout process is different than I’m accustomed to as well. The clerk scans your items, takes your money and leaves you with your cart full of food but no way to bag it. After going into observation mode, I learned you have to buy reusable bags (or bring your own).
The experience was worth it because I saved quite a bit of money, but it is such a foreign land that it is going to take me a while to assimilate. In a sense, I feel that way about the culture at large. So much is changing from what I consider to be the norm.
A few days ago, I texted my niece a bunch of old photos from when she was young. She called me, saying I sent her “the grip” of photos, which I now know means “a lot.” I’m down with that.
I bowl in a league on Monday nights. A couple of weeks ago, one of my teammates – a female – pointed out that a guy on the lanes next to us was displaying half a moon, if you know what I mean, when he leaned over. I told her that if he tucked his shirt in, like my generation does, then his moon could have remained a mystery. But that’s not the style these days.
As an occasional reporter for various publications, I’m not paid to offer my opinions or offer analysis. I’m paid to report the news. But with Fox News taking a decidedly conservative bent, MSNBC taking a liberal bent and so many other news entities freely allowing opinion into news stories, a reporter of my ilk is seen as an oddity. Even when I’m allowed to offer my opinion or analysis, I often chose not to. Younger readers have a hard time understanding why because they've never known media to exist in any other fashion.
I participate in social media for both professional and personal reasons, and I’m not at all opposed to it. But the sound bite snarky way in which we interact with one another on it sometimes bothers me. It’s the ultimate form of one-upmanship. The problem is, the snark usually comes at somebody else’s expense. That doesn’t sit well with me.
Every generation has its own lingo, style, way of interacting and way of processing events. That’s how each generation finds its own identity.
I don’t always do it well, but as a 40-something who is admittedly losing touch, I try to understand the generation behind me because I want to build relationships with them. I want to understand them and I hope they want to understand me because no greater honor exists than when a young person asks me for some perspective.
Lee Warren is a freelance writer and editor who has written twelve non-fiction books, one novella and hundreds of articles for various newspapers and magazines as well as edited more than 50 books that currently appear in print. He's a fan of NASCAR, baseball, tennis, books, movies and coffee shops.