Generation Pathetic – (Travels with Sam – Part 3)

My daughter casually mentioned yesterday that she had her last lesson with the “Native Speaker” in her school and I suddenly realized that Sam would probably be leaving soon too.

After our first two train rides together, I thought it might become a somewhat regular event in my week and a recurring part of this blog. It turned out -– unfortunately – that our train travel schedules went their separate ways and I didn’’t have the pleasure of any more of those trips into my own past. But a connection had been made and it was self-evident that I had to invite Sam over one last time before he leaves us for good. So I called and invited him to my daughter’’s confirmation party next week. Within 90 seconds, we established that: 1) we were both heathens, 2) we could give one another mutual support while traversing the completely foreign territory of the church, 3) a future meeting would be possible now that he had taken a job in Chicago, and 4) that it is really hard to deal with the thought that “the end is nigh”. . . . and then his cell phone battery ran out.

This morning I was in Facebook and saw his announcement of his new job, including a very special shout out to all those who had predicted his English degree would lead him to a life of flipping burgers. Some more Facebook surfing led me to a video from a series called “”The Newsroom”” with a delicious rant about America not being “the greatest nation”. (I might have to buy that show on DVD.) In that scene, however, the ranter pointed to the young rantees in the audience and accused them of being the “worst generation ever” (with some extraneous punctuation thrown in) – which I just don’t get. How can a guy my age tell the Sams of this world that they are responsible for its problems? Or worse than we were? I realize it is a fictional character, but still, someone should hand that guy a mirror.

My older sister was born long enough before me to just barely make it into baby-boomer-turned-hippie generation. I remember her tie-dyed clothes and her Fink Big sweatshirt. I watched her ironing her hair straight and marveled when she came home from the Brady Street Festival with a peacock feather. I coveted her “Flower Power” T-shirt -– all the more because I knew I wasn’’t a part of any counter-culture. By the time I came along, that ship had sailed. I, apparently, was a member of the “Me Generation””. God, I hated that term from the first time I heard it. Probably because, inside, I knew it was true. Instead of Woodstock, we had discos. We weren’’t on the road -– our journey to “discover ourselves” began and ended in the self-help aisle of the bookstore. We helped the devil move into the White House and then relaxed in a hot tub. And when we were handed the torch, we put it down and went shopping.

I remember saying all this to Sam on our second train ride -– how I thought my own generation was so pathetic. He sighed and said in a quiet voice “”Yeah. That’s true.””

Congratulations on your new job, Sam. I’’m not sure what kind of writing you will be doing – but something tells me it won’t be the kind that makes people dumber, more superficial, or more scared than they were before.

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4 thoughts on “Generation Pathetic – (Travels with Sam – Part 3)

  1. Thanks! It’s been a rad year with you. I think–one day, if I decide to write some of my own stories down–there will be an entry, or two, or seven, about the fellow flatlander I met in Austria who made me laugh and made me think and made me feel less alone in our shared corner of the world.

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