Clearing his throat, he was about to enlighten me. “Well, we were hoping you could help Rebel find a ranch-type place where he could go and they could teach him a living. Straighten him out.” (I was soon to discover that Rebel had been in and out of jail for small-time drug dealing).
Not being an employment counselor, I suggested a referral to a local state-sponsored workforce training program.
“Oh, he’s already been there. They said they’d train him, but they put him in a room puttin’ together widgets for eight hours a day and didn’t pay him hardly nothin’.” This said with an air of indignation.
I knew the program and it was true that he was trained in assembly, working eight hours a day to acclimate him to standing, making production, and concentrating for extended periods of time. The pay was a perk. It was paid training. How often did THAT come along?
But he and his father were upset that he wasn’t being paid more, for better work. I mentally corrected my internet FTL theory to include parenting deficits. This father was older than I was. How far up the age ladder did the delusions go?
While this young man was a rather extreme case in point, he isn’t the only FTL I’ve seen, the phenomenon being all too common. One young man, living in his mother’s basement and addicted to cough syrup he surreptitiously bought using the money his mother gave him for gas for the car he’d been given, had a similar response to my question: “I wanna to be one of these people who gets paid to put advertisements on my car and drive around.”
“I want to be paid to wear designer’s clothes.” “I want to design video games.” “I want to be a rapper.” “I want …” If it seems glamorous or glitzy, FTL’s want to do it, not to mention seemingly easy.
They aren’t interested in obtaining the education necessary to write code for games or “pay their dues” to get where they want although a few of them have suggested their willingness to make a sex video ala Kim Kardashian if necessary to achieve the necessary infamy and its accompanying wealth.
They walk into my office with facial piercings, tattoos, green hair and often gauged holes in their ears large enough to hold a dinner plate. While it’s not that I’m necessarily anti-free expression, they are in effect making themselves unemployable in all but the narrowest niches, many of which require artistic or artisan skills not common among this population.
I’ve noticed that, if called to their attention, they are quick to become offended and loudly proclaim their entitlement to control their own physical appearances. They can’t seem to comprehend that someone who resembles a walking hepatitis victim with eight facial piercings and a dozen visible tattoos (often obscene) isn’t employable in most customer service jobs, including fast food.
I blame the internet.
How is this going to end? I don’t know. I wish I had a crystal ball (or some version of Akinator) for forecasting the future and could see the conclusion of this trend, but unfortunately I don’t. What I do see is a generation coming to “maturity” needing someone to tell them every move to make, no initiative, no realistic goals for their future or even skills to financially support themselves, no sense of necessary conformity as a method to work within the system for the change they want to see.
They are coming to me for answers, and I have none.
Maybe I’ll just go be a professional bull rider.
Father and son photo available from Shutterstock