Lucky Number Seven?

July 7th, 2007 | Posted in General

My youngest daughter The Effervescent Gabrielle pointed out to me last night that today’s date is 07-07-07, which is a ‘lucky day’. Since she’s already a lucky person, she thought I should take her up to the convenience store at 7:00 am today and have her buy a lottery ticket. She’s thirteen, this is summer and none of my kids have seen the awake side of about 10:00 am in a month. Somehow I think she’d have reconsidered how lucky today is if I really had woken her up at 7:00.

Personally I’m not feeling real lucky. I’m paying the price for being a business owner today (and yesterday) by having to cancel a trip I had planned to my New England park operation to work painting airbrush tattoos at the Mall of America thanks to an employee who decided to quit suddenly.??ᬨ‚Ć Said employee left me a voicemail last Saturday to tell me she was quitting because she was invited on a 4th of July trip and since she was scheduled to work 7 of the next 10 days, she’d was just going to quit. This voicemail was left about 2 hours before she was supposed to come in to work a close shift.

I had to scramble to cover her shifts. Thankfully the mall was understanding and I was allowed to operate at reduced hours for two days this week to help, although the second half of Saturday was lost. I placed an ad on Craiglist for a new artist, and interviewed two candidates on Wednesday. I thought either would have worked out well, but one was available to start immediately while the other had plans this week end and next. This weekend I needed them to work so I would be able to make my trip to Six Flags New England. I hired this young lady, who seemed very sharp and on the ball. She didn’t show up for her training on Thursday, and after my phone calls went unanswered I got a text message from her saying this: “I have accepted another position”. No phone call to me to tell me not to meet her, no consideration for the other people I had told the position was filled (the other girl had gotten another job in the meantime), no concern she might have caused me a lot of headaches having to restart the process. A TEXT MESSAGE. Coward.

This isn’t a lone incident. I have been concerned for the last decade that the kids of today have this bizarre feeling of entitlement, where they think what they need should be provided unquestioned and what they want should be given to them with the barest of efforts. There are notable exceptions but all too often I see a horrible lack of work ethic in the young. They place their jobs somewhere below volunteer community service on the totem pole of priorities. Many seem to no qualms about calling in sick or just quitting if the slightest social activity is being compromised, and worse they don’t feel the need to make an effort to do their jobs well. They think that showing up is all that’s needed to earn their paychecks.

As I said, not all kids are like that. I have had some excellent employees in the past, and have a few right now. It’s just become harder and harder to find them.

I was raised to believe that hard work is it’s own reward. I was taught that when asked to do 100 of anything, you always did 110. I always felt when I was entrusted with a job it was my responsibility to do what I could to help out my employers, and I treated the business I worked in like it was my own. This started with my first job at a wholesale produce store, and continues today. I lament that these mid-west work ethic values are slowly being lost.

I don’t know where this sense of entitlement comes from. I suspect it’s a byproduct of the “Me Generation” and the selfishness and self-centered world we live in. Parents are mostly to blame, of course. We all spoil our kids a little more than we should. I hope when the time comes for my kids to start working I have managed to instill in them the same kind of work ethic my parents taught me.

Judging by how hard they work to keep their rooms clean I am failing miserably.


  1. kmcnutt says:

    Alarming… and yes, lamentable. What can you do, though? I see a coming multi-year struggle for my wife and me, as our kids start school and start meeting up with the mentality you’re describing. I hope we can get them to a point where it’s not too much of a struggle to convince them that the whole “short-term gain for a long-term loss mostly at the expense of others” gig is not a winning game plan. The chicklets that bailed on you must not have long-term plans of being artists… and if they do, well, best of luck to them.

    Better luck to you, too. Hope the new search goes well.


  2. mengblom says:

    You’re definitely right about a depressing percentage of the younger generation having a lousy work ethic, yet the way those potential employees treated you points to something even more disturbing. I see in them, and in so many other kids, a kind of “narcissistic amorality”, where their morality (such as it is) begins and ends with their own feelings, impulses and gnat-like attention spans.

    That’s always been true to an extent with teens and young adults, but it’s really reached “critical mass” with the current crop of self-absorbed young people. Most of the blame, of course, rests on clueless parents more concerned with being the buddies of their brats than teaching them anything useful about the real world. Even simple household chores don’t seem to be part of many kids’ lives. I can count on half a hand how many teens I see mowing their family’s lawn here in my neighborhood, and two of those kids are my own!

    I think the other component comes from the “everyone gets a trophy” mindset that’s creeped into the community around the already hopelessly spoiled younger generation. You know, that bizarre practice where every kid on a youth sports team gets a little trophy, regardless of whether they came in first or dead last? In my opinion, the signal we send to kids with “everyone gets a trophy” (and related “self esteem trumps all” practices) is that “you’re great no matter what you do or how you act”. An exceptional effort and a crappy effort receive the same reward, while school boards debate getting rid of the A through F letter grading system (it’s just too traumatic, after all), and nobody truly does anything “bad”…just “bad choices”.

    Sorry to rant, but your entry really sparked my own anger at fellow parents who’ve done such a horrible job raising this clueless, aimless, unplugged generation of kids. Someone should give them a trophy.

  3. RC says:

    You mentioned something that’s been driving me crazy, this 7-7-7 thing.

    Now, it’s been all over the news and stories everywhere, but the date is NOT 7-7-7 … it’s 7,7, 2007. So the “lucky day” was TWO THOUSAND years ago, not today. “2007” and “7” are two entirely different numbers!

    If you hired someone for your shop, and they asked how much they were going to be paid, and you said “7 an hour,” they wouldn’t go, “Oh goodie, 2007 dollars an hour!”

    Still, maybe I’ll go downstairs and buy me a lottery ticket at 20:07 o’clock.

  4. Tom says:

    You’re expecting precision from a world that celebrated the turn of the Millennium on Jan 1, 2000, when that was actually year 1,999 and one day. The end of the Millennium and the beginning of the new one occurred at midnight, Dec,. 31st 2000. But that’s not sexy enough for the masses.

  5. Trevour says:

    That really sucks – this reminds me of the countless days I spent covering others’ shifts up at the mall in Fargo when we had the caricature stand. Artists wouldn’t show up for the lamest reasons – “Oh, I forgot,” “I have to stay late at my other job,” “I was sick” (what, they couldn’t call and tell you this BEFORE their shift?), “I got too much stuff going on tonight,” and then there was an instance of somebody going to jail! And I was the guy who lived 50 miles out of town. Heck, I even showed up for an afternoon shift the same day I hit ice and flipped my car upside-down into a ditch!

    Many young’uns today must think the world revolves around THEM; a never-ending, consequence-free environment. When you screw up, it affects others. I just hope that one of these days, reality bites ’em fiercely in the fanny.

  6. SteveH says:

    Tom get me a green card and I will come work for you. Im hard working and very handsome! LOL!

  7. Rick W says:

    Hey Tom,
    I agree with you and mengblom about the lack of work ethic in today’s younger generation. It’s tough to get my kids to do chores around the house, it’s an up hill battle, but I’m not giving in!!

    Also, with today’s modern gadgets, it’s easier to avoid someone (bosses, bill collectors, annoying relatives?¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ¬¨¬∂) if you don?¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚Äö√묢t want to deal with them and you don?¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚Äö√묢t have to be accountable. With caller ID and computers, you don?¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚Äö√묢t have to pick-up or return e-mails if you don?¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚Äö√묢t want to. 20 years ago chances are you did pick-up the phone (because you didn?¬¢‚Äö√ᬮ‚Äö√묢t know who was on the other end) and chances are you had to deal with your boss face to face instead of a computer screen.

    These modern gadgets can separate and put a wedge between human/personal relationships. So when someone decides to QUIT that day, instead of calling or meeting with them in person, they?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢ll just text message the SOB.

  8. Eddie says:

    Ouch. I’m glad you weren’t blogging thirteen years ago.

  9. Tom says:

    Don’t hash my expit.


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