Talking ’bout My Generation

Reading Micah Solomon’s column in my inky Atlanta Journal Constitution last Sunday, I quickly skimmed through looking for the letter X. His article was all about what Gen Y’ers want from customer service and as his foil was the Baby Boomers in paragraph two. Micah certainly knows his stuff with customer service, but I was more interested in seeing my generation kicked to curb once more. Would he even mention GenX? (Incidentally, he did mention GenX in a subordinate clause in paragraph 8.)

I am a GenX’er and proud of my tribe. We have had less written about us than any other generation and no one cares about our attitudes towards customer service or anything else. We are too small in comparison to the generations that sandwich us in.

In Douglas Coupland’s book GenX (1991) Andy Palmer, his sister and friends drift through their early 20’s unsure why no one pays any attention to them. Andy recalls at one point being with his father at a Palm Spring’s gas station as a child. When his dad spills some gas on the side of the car, he calls out to Andy, “Smell that? It smells like the future!”  This is just one of the nonsensical messages Andy receives growing up in a generation that no one seems to understand or cares to try to understand.

Before The Replacements and Husker Du entered my life, I was hooked on Baby Boomer music. That wasn’t hard to do with the amount of it out there. The Junior High School dances always included a healthy dose of it too. The Who’s “My Generation” blaring at us on the gym floor is a particularly sharp memory for me. But even back then I was wondering what g-g-geneartion Pete Townsend was talking about. His or mine?

Generational issues are visceral if nothing else. I may not relate to people from my state or town, but by golly don’t mess with my generation. 

I am sure all the attention the GenY folks are getting must be flattering. Entire consultancy practices, training and books galore are being written about them. Meanwhile, Sarah Brokaw’s book “Fortytude” hit the amazon “$2.01-14-copies-used” scrap-heap before anyone had a chance to even read it. If only it was written 15 years ago, or could be saved for a release date 15 years hence?

There is nothing to complain about, though. I think being ignored has shaped my generation and me. Being able to blend in with Baby-Boomers or GenY’er certainly has its advantages too. As for the unleaded gas at the gas station? It still smells like the future to me.