Dear Parents of College Students

The Clown Motel

The Clown Motel (Photo credit: Great Beyond)

TO MY CHILDREN: THIS IS KNOWN AS SATIRE. DON’T GIVE ME “THE FACE.”

Dear Moms and Dads of College Students,

It’s been a long summer so I need to start this letter with an apology, I feel so badly for all of you.  Believe me, I am going through the same thing with my two, you are not alone. We are all here in solidarity. I’m writing to you today, on behalf of those of us parents who have been through this for a few years already and we want to forewarn you on the things that might be coming around the corner. We had no one to tell us, and believe us, we wish we had, so here is some helpful information, a guide, as you will, for YOU to get adjusted to college life. Let me put it bluntly: This is a phase after freshmen year usually called: YOU CAN DO NOTHING RIGHT.

After that as your child gets older you will all be; ” AS STUPID AS F**K.  Usually it’s the condescending tone of voice, the eye roles, the groans of disgust and the stony faces that will give you a clue. Now? You see them huddled over their computer screens not even acknowledging your presence. “Huh, what, did you say something.” The only question I get asked (think back to grade school) is “What’s for dinner?” What happened to manners? What happened to “NO TEXTING AT THE TABLE?” What happened to “can I help?”

We know nothing, our advice (unwanted) is not listened to and who asked us anyway? Face it people WE JUST DON’T GET IT.  The kids are not “home” they are here to stay as if they were staying at a MOTEL and you, mom and dad are the full-time, 24/7 concierge. What? You didn’t get that message from the college newsletters? Oh, well, right, it’s ASSUMED. Duh.

College students know much more ABOUT EVERYTHING than we do because basically WE KNOW. NOTHING. We are the “older generation” and people like us, well, we just don’t know the same things that they which they have practically learned in training pants. “Sigh (in a condescending tone)  I’ve shown you this on the computer three times already” “I know, I say sheepishly but I forgot, it’s not my fault. I have NO short-term memory.” I beg pathetically.  Deep heaving and annoying sigh, “Oh fine, mom, I’ll show it to you ONCE more but write it down.” At this point, embarrassed and demeaned you say, “Never mind, I’ll google it.” which is what you should do in the first place or called Apple even if you are on hold for two hours. Some things WE need to learn, this is one of them.

Who are these strange grown-ups dropping in at our home? I don’t recognize them this time, I don’t even know their friends who are sleeping in our family room. We want to make our kids happy so of course we say yes to their grown-up sleepovers. My gosh, we are not living in our home anymore, we have become a bed and breakfast, lunch or dinner. More likely, we have become a free-motel. Our warm, compassionate kids have become distant and aloof and self-involved while they haven’t stopped for a second to think about us. Why? Because we don’t exist except to pay the bills and welcome their friends with a smile.

The question begs to ask “who are we?” We are just the same old Mom and Dad that haven’t really changed much compared to their quick minds and independent thoughts. We’re stuck in the mud, while they zoom off to have fun with their new friends, to study what they want and to pop back here to see their old friends when it is convenient for them. We are no longer part of the equation, well, ok, maybe at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Once you accept it, it gets SO much easier.

It’s almost time for them to leave, for them to go back “home” to their suites and apartments in college. They have their own cars now. We don’t have to drive them up like the princes and princesses they are. They can unpack by themselves with the help of their suite mates. They will call once a week, maybe more. And, knowing us, we will be there for them at any and every time because that is what parenting children is about, UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.

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The New Rude

noon8march8962

noon8march8962 (Photo credit: marymactavish)

It’s 2013, and you are an aging Baby Boomer just like me. Mazel Tov. I bet you are so proud. Our music was sublime, our culture was magnificent and yes, it still lives on playing on our iPods and even nostalgic rock ( or nausea rock as my husband calls it) on radio stations and in elevators. We loved peace and each other and now? We are probably unemployed and sulking or depressed. Sorry, I can’t lie and I don’t want to exaggerate either but basically if you were laid off in the last year or two and are an aging baby boomer, luck and time is NOT on your side. My husband and I and our friends are living through it now.

It stings. Because as much as we were popular “way back when” we are the antithesis of that now. We are old, used up. most probably depressed and the last people to be called in for an interview. Don’t believe me? Just ask. Not only are we not called in for interviews, if we are lucky enough to get an interview, there are new rules: rudeness. I worked in Human Resources for over twenty years and I have never seen what I am seeing now which is NOTHING.  There is no follow-up, no “Thanks for interviewing but we have hired someone better qualified” there’s not even a rejection letter. No one even tries to help you or does courtesy interviews, no one lends a helping hand, they just ignore you. People are smug and ill-mannered. Welcome to the unemployment line: it’s where it’s at.

Why are people being so rude? I guess they feel they don’t have to be polite because the alarming mass of people who want jobs, any job. In their mind, why bother with respect and manners, never mind a phone call to follow-up, that sure as hell ain’t happening. Don’t even THINK about it, because you won’t get it. When I think way back to all the acknowledgement letters we sent out for people just to tell them we did receive their résumé it’s amazing. After that we called and sent letters to tell candidates of their status or rejection. We did the best we could. Now? They don’t even try because they know that people are desperate for a job and that is just plain sad. And cruel.

Manners seem to have gone the way with the older generation, yes, us and our parents who we probably take care of along with our children. You wonder why so many of us are anxious? The Sandwich Generation has a lot on our minds, our parent or parents, our children (college age, younger or older) ourselves, health wise and job wise and that we are now old. Old. How did we get here, we ask ourselves? When did we become them?

Sure, we still listen to the same music: James Taylor, Carole King, Simon and Garfunkel, Neil Young (God forbid Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young would do the honor of a real reunion concert but SOMEONE won’t do it)  Thank God for those who will: Paul McCartney and Paul Simon & Art Garfunkel. Apparently, they understand us and indulge us. Thank you, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel for the Reunion Tour, it was one of the best nights of my life. Growing old is hard, we miss the past and we’re scared of the future, thanks for sticking with us. I know the chances of another reunion tour are slight but we will keep hoping….here’s to you!

The photographs are the owners of the photographers.
Thanks to my friend Bruce, for the title.

9 and A Half Minutes, Episode 2 (Interviews)

Virtual Resume & Letter

Image by Olivier Charavel via Flickr

I apologize. I’m supposed to talk about things that annoy me but I can’t today. That’s just way too mild for a topic that’s making me feel totally infuriated and incensed. I’m steaming. Literally. I feel smoke coming out of my hair follicles and anything near me could burst into uncontrollable flames.  I want to talk about a practice that I absolutely hate with a passion. Today I am talking about the job market and I’m NOT talking about President Obama or the economy. I’m talking about people. Specific people. You should know who you are but since you are so out of touch with reality, I’ll tell you.

I want to blast the inconsiderate Human Resource people or “People Person” as some call themselves now AND Hiring Managers that don’t take the time to give a candidate an answer, a final decision. I’m not talking about someone who has just sent in their resume, I’m talking about a candidate who has been in for an interview, not to mention four separate times for interviews. I’m talking about interviews leading up to talking to the CEO of the company and then…. hears nothing. NOTHING, bupkes, zip, nada. This is not only extremely rude and hurtful. It’s inhumane.

What happened to simple common courtesy? I was a Human Resources person way back when and not only did we acknowledge every resume that came in with a letter but we called each candidate that interviewed and gave them an answer. Did we enjoy turning people down? No. Was it a hard call to make? Yes. But, at least we gave the candidate the courtesy, they so rightly deserve, of a phone call to tell them the decision. If we couldn’t reach the person, we sent a letter, an authentic letter with the company’s letterhead and our signature; because people have the right to know, one way or the other.

Today? They don’t acknowledge you or reject you, they do absolutely nothing. Do these interviewers and hiring managers think that because the economy is so bad and that they have so many applicants it makes it okay to just let things slide. It is not okay, it is never okay; it is wrong. Gee, I guess after several months and no return phone calls you assume you didn’t get the job.  Don’t they know that it’s the waiting that is torturous?  In this scenario, “silence is not golden” silence stinks, it’s a cop-out, it’s cowardly. Tell me, just try to tell me that these hiring managers or employment representatives don’t have thirty seconds to either pick up the phone (what am I thinking?) or at the very least send an e-mail. An e-mail would give the candidates closure but no, job seekers don’t even get that. Why not? To me, it’s totally unacceptable and nobody can convince me that you can’t write an e-mail that says “thanks but no thanks, we selected someone with more appropriate experience and blah blah blah”. PEOPLE NEED CLOSURE so they can dust themselves off and try again. Apparently this is too much to ask for.

In my opinion, there are no excuses, it’s just plain rude and demeaning. What kind of world are we living in now? What have we become? Don’t give me the excuse about the volume of resumes either. I worked in HR for 25 years and we had resumes coming in by the hundreds. Sure, we were busy every minute but we made the time to call and let people know the hiring manager’s decision. People are stronger than you think, they just want to know, one way or the other.  So, turn on your computer, or ask your assistant to do it for you, write a courteous note, click send and give people their dignity back.  There are no excuses. Just do it. People are going through enough of a hard time trying to find a job. You are just being rude and inconsiderate. If I could, I would start a movement against this. That’s how mad I am. Very truly yours, “Norma Rae.”

Right Or Rude?

I was able to go to the grocery store this morning, the first time in about 18 months, and I was THRILLED. Having been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, this was the first day that I thought I could not only handle going but enjoy it. I felt good, not too achy and with just enough energy. YEAH for me, road trip!   I know I have simple pleasures; it doesn’t take a lot to make me happy. The sun was shining, it was over forty degrees and, list in hand, I drove to the store singing loudly along with the radio.

Once there, I was thrilled to walk albeit slowly down the aisles, looking at everything. I don’t just follow a grocery store list, I go through each aisle and look at every product. I know this sounds like pure drudgery for most people but I have always liked supermarkets( and if I am in another country I have to go visit their supermarkets) and I always want to buy the new products.

While on-line for the deli section I saw an old friend or actually someone I was friendly with, I will call her S. I was tickled to see S. and gave her a hug; I’ve learned in my 53 years (finally) that there are many different types of friendships. I asked her how she was and she started telling me “how difficult things have been in her life and how much pressure she has been under.”  I nodded my head sympathetically. She then elaborates and tells me that the PROBLEM is that she is remodeling her house (mini-mansion) and her brand new, ( sparkling -my word, not hers) stove did not get delivered on time!! She continues to talk about the remodeling and then switched topics to college and how she and her husband tried to get financial aid for one of their daughters but they have way too much money to qualify for aid. She and her husband are both professional people (okay, doctors) in the medical field and they do NOT have to worry about money. Apparently.

I stood there for a while and she continued to tell me her “troubles.” Finally, in a very nice, even tone of voice, I said the following: “You know, I’m sorry but I just can’t feel that sorry for you. My husband has been out of work for six months and I have been sick for the last two years with an auto-immune disease.” She then asked what auto immune disease I had and how long my husband had been out of work.” I answered her questions and she proceeded to tell me some local gossip.

I then saw another person that we both knew (let’s call her A) and we wished each other a Happy New Year. I said good-bye to them both and moved on to stand in line and pay. Before that, though, I heard  A. ask how S. was doing. At that point, everything changed.   S. said  “I don’t want to complain anymore after what Laurie just told me, I’m fine.”  I smiled at her and she smiled back. “It’s all a matter of perspective” I said gently and then I left the store.

I kept thinking about our conversation as I unloaded the groceries into the car. I was thinking of this family’s reality and mine. I was thinking of people in Haiti and the true problems they have.  I didn’t mention Haiti to my friend but I sure did think about it.

Was I right to have said what I said or was I rude? Or both?