Written: Generation Gap

Written: Generation Gap

January 8, 2016 Writing Advice 4

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.



4 Responses

  1. Adan Ramie says:

    That particular restaurant is one in which I have not yet received subpar service. (Knock on wood!) I have, however, gotten the shaft at almost every other restaurant I’ve ever been to – and more of that lately. It seems like they don’t care anymore. Maybe that is telling of their lack of work ethic, or maybe it speaks to the high turnaround rate in employment. Maybe, further, it shows how little training some of these employees are getting along with their poor wages. It still makes me mad, though, when I go into a restaurant with my family, we’re seated, and then — after 15 very long minutes with two special needs children — we are forced to leave because no one has so much as taken our drink order. Every time it happens, my wife and I swear we’re going to eat at home more often.

    As far as sloppy writing, I have to admit that I’ve done at least a few of the things you’ve mentioned. For the most part, they’re stylistic choices, and I stand by them. However, I do enjoy an Oxford comma, and try to employ it whenever possible.

    Keep your standards high, Stephanie. There is very little to be gained for changing who you are to suit others!

  2. Saeval says:

    This is why I like to venture of the beaten culinary path. Is it hit and miss? Absolutely, but the hits are absolutely fantastic. A big issue is that you are in a Bedroom Community, which makes it very hard to get pro servers. We need to set up a time to meet in Richmond for dinner.

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