August 13

Youth Happens

I learned something new today: a new way to be annoyed and offended!

An older coworker came to me and asked for a “p-clip”.  When I asked him what a p-clip was, he replied “Never mind, you are too young to know what that is.” and walked off. I found myself angry, and highly offended. Benadryl and allergies are making me more cranky than usual, but the reaction was stronger than I anticipated.

P-clip, p-clamp, cable clip
P-clip, p-clamp, cable clip

On reflection (after a few seething minutes), my reaction makes some sense: I was accused of being unhelpful due to the ignorance of inexperience with a single specific term plucked from a dozen different possible disciplines, each of which have thousands of general and specific terms that can vary by age, experience, and even macro- and micro-geographically, then was dismissed in a manner to say that I was not worth the time to educate.  I did take some satisfaction from finding out that the older coworker next asked the Greybeard (probably twice my age, all years in multiple fields), and the Greybeard did not know what the older coworker was talking about either.

As a side note, I was able to find out what the older coworker was asking after in the time it took to fire off a single search engine query – had he felt that he did not want to or could describe to me what he needed, a wait of almost fifteen seconds could have brought me up to speed.  This is perhaps one of the great generational misunderstandings: that the Millennials and later generations have grown in and with the tools to quickly reference, absorb, and integrate data points.  Debate will continue on how this will help and/or hinder the underlying social and intellectual fabric of the future, but the ability to reference a single new and possibly strange term are undeniable.

I did address my concerns to the coworker – he felt they did not want to “waste my time” explaining it to me, and was surprised and concerned that he had caused offense.  I think when he made the comment he thought he was being funny.

Did I over-react? I dunno.
But I did learn something today.

April 20

The Morality of Spare Change

The other day a man approached me in the parking lot as I was leaving the grocery store. He asked if I had a spare dollar for an emergency – he needed gas to get someplace.  I told him that I had no cash, as I did not carry any normally, apologized, and wished him well.

The brief conversation on the way home with my companion on this touched on addressing this sort of situation.  My companion was surprised that I even acknowledged the person.

I maintain that you cannot simply ignore a person.  To ignore them is to deny them the most basic human dignity: acknowledging someone costs you nothing more than a few moments of time, and to deny someone even the small concession of recognizing them as a human addressing another is cruel.

Yes, this will put you into the situation where you must address what the person is wanting.  It may be spare change.  It may be truly an emergency of the sort that the most basic level of humanity demands we render aid (such as dire and/or life-threatening circumstances), and indeed to form the habit of ignoring the pleas for help around us makes us ignore immediate demands of action, and denies us an awareness of our surroundings and the situation of the people in it.

Even if it is spare change or similar aid, you must look at the person who is asking for a quarter, or a dollar, or whatever you can spare, and  answer them.  This is a service to you as much as them – your answer forces you to assess yourself.  Can you spare money?  Will you?  Why, or why not?  Will you lie to this person?  Why or why not?  Do they make you uncomfortable with their request?  Why or why not?

Our lives are made up of moments that are revealing.  Choose to use them, to learn about yourself.  Reflect, find answers, and change slowly if you do not like what you find.

Attention must be paid.  To others, and to yourself.