The Logical Philosopher

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Culture of Expectation

I stood, waiting patiently for my turn. I am, after all, a polite and patient man.

She stood at the front of the line, talking at another customer in the store. She was, after all, a young professional Know It All that felt she was entitled to hold up the line.

"No, you're doing it wrong. You need to find your niche, then you can sell your work," she instructed with an exasperated tone. Looking young enough that she would get id'd in any bar, it appeared she was dispensing advice to a grey haired man on how to sell his photographs. I caught a glimpse of his camera and lenses poking out of his case, which pegged him as either a pro, or high-end amateur photographer. Either way, by his equipment it looked like he knew his stuff and had probably forgotten more about photography than she had even learned. She continued on as he looked at her with a blank 'why are you talking to me expression', "And you do know of all the places to send to, right? I'm having a gallery showing next week, and you should come and see my work to compare."

The clerk behind the counter looked up as he finished printing a receipt on the computer. Sliding it across the counter to her, he leaned to the side and made eye contact with me - one of those "your turn, can I help you" motions.

Ms. Know It All must have heard my muscles twitch, readying to relay my polite request for service, because before I could even part my lips to emit any sort of sound she held up her right hand between me and the clerk. Then, with a long finger extending upwards towards the ceiling she said in a louder tone than her current conversation, "I'm not done with my transaction yet." The amazing part was she didn't even bother to break eye contact with her main target of her verbal directions. Do you want more amazing? Well, I have it - she then continued on talking to him.

I quizzically looked at the clerk with a "did what just happened really happen" look on my face, only to be rewarded with a sympathetic eye roll. A second clerk that was stocking the shelves turned and looked at all of us, her mouth slightly agape at what was unfolding in front of her.

"The showing will be on the 12th at 8:00," she chattered on, reaching into her purse with her left hand to pull out one of her cards. I know it was her left hand because her right was still busy holding up a line of people with her single finger pointing up towards the ceiling. "Take this, it has my contact information so I can give you more detail on what your next steps should be."

I had time on my hands so was happy to be polite and wait, but then thought for a moment:

Old lady that can't find her wallet?
I would wait patiently.

Young parent trying to finish her transaction while balancing a crying child?
I would wait patiently.

Confused spouse attempting to pick just the right gift for their significant other?
I would wait patiently.

Arrogant young professional with the expectation of privilege?
I am not waiting patiently.

As I stepped up to the counter Ms. Know It All's finger straightened up like she was going to climax, all while she continued to talk at her victim. Sensing all hell was going to break loose two of the other clerks that had been near enough to see what was happening jumped behind the counter and loudly announced in unison "I can serve whoever is next!"

I left about 1 minute later, after paying for my photographs (which I probably couldn't sell because I haven't found my niche market). When I looked back at the first clerk behind the counter he was still holding the transaction paperwork for Ms. Know It All, while she continued to hold her right hand high, almost daring him to serve someone else in line.

The older man still had that Charlie Brown look on his face, like all he could hear from the teacher was "Whah wah, wah wah wah...".

An editorial I read a few months back said today's iGeneration and Generation Y, which I just missed out on by a few years, is developing into a "Culture of Entitlement".

Instant access to information, instant intellectual and markatable skills when they graduate (which ports directly into a high level position at a large firm), and the tendency to blog now & regret it later.

Unfortunately these traits come with a price: they think they run the show.

I wonder how long this will go on until the older generations start to turn them into a "Culture of Just Got Wacked Up Side The Head". I think this video of an old granny giving a wack to the Mercedes Benz of Mr. Know It All illustrates exactly what I am getting at.

I don't think "iGeneration Wacking" has caught on yet, but I was pretty close to starting the trend on my own today.