Written: Generation Gap
As I prepare to start my 45th year of life (next month!), I have made some observations. I won’t digress into the whole selfish, self-entitled view of today’s younger generation, but there are some things I have noticed a decline of that I’d like to speculate over.
The other night, my family and I enjoyed dinner out. We chose a restaurant my daughter had never been to, singing its praises as we went. With expectations high, we booked ahead and met with a smile by the hostesses when we arrived. The restaurant is always packed, testimony to its success, so despite our reservations, we still had to wait a few minutes before being seated. The busy bustle and hustle of staff floated by in waves, the aroma of hot food drifting into nostrils, teasing empty and complaining bellies. The buzzer lit up, and a hostess led us to our seats, giving us the grand tour and picking up hot rolls as we went. Fabulous beginning, just as it should be.
Little did we know how disastrous our evening would be.
From waiting for our server, to having to sip each glass for proper drink arrangement (I got the rare diet coke), to no one telling us they were out of stock on salad fixings, to receiving our meal before our appetizer, the evening spiraled downward quickly. The service, while incredibly nice and smiley, lacked. As a server with over 20 years of restaurant experience, this bothered me much. I realized that the standards for good service went down as the quality of the food did—not just at this particular restaurant, but everywhere.
What happened to the days when businesses required servers to communicate with new tables within a minute of seating (to the best of their ability)? What happened to stopping by and inquiring about the main dish just after it’s serve? What happened to anticipating a customer’s needs and making sure they always have a drink to wash their food down with?
I’m not that old, am I? Should I lower my expectations for service to match the times and be extra considerate of exemplary service when it happens?
Along that same thought, what about writing? The rules change constantly. Old school writers like myself still follow the old codes like the oxford comma, complete sentences, not starting with “But” or “So,” for example. How far should we have to lower our standards in writing? Are we stooges unwilling to change? Should we be okay with the current trend of sloppy writing? As editors, where do you draw the line?
As a parent, I try to teach my kids the old school rules. I want them to be likable, successful people others call on when they need something. Perhaps by doing so, they will find that middle ground in this generational gap. I truly hope so.