6. THEY THINK THE WORLD OWES THEM A NEW BIKE
I recently had an intern working for me who would occasionally ride his bike around taking photos of girls in cute outfits for a street fashion column. Due to his own negligence, his bike was stolen, which made it much harder for him to perform this task. His solution? I should buy him a new bike. He said he used his bike to intern for me, ergo it’s my problem. I was left with the unfortunate task of telling him the difference between someone’s “boss” and their “mommy.”
7. THEY’D RATHER STEAL THAN CREATE
Some rich kids in Westchester decided they wanted to start a website that incorporates some of my site and some of a similar site called Creep Street. Rather than work on their site, they decided to simply hijack my content verbatim and make it theirs. They didn’t say, “Here’s a funny article I read elsewhere.” They claimed all the content as their own.
They showed a total lack of self-awareness when caught. They don’t comprehend that not doing their own work is a bad thing. When called on it they merely replied, “Wastechester is an electronic music blog. Street carnages [sic] articles are something we personally enjoyed reading and reposted, because we figured our readers would enjoy too.”
8. THEY ARE OBSESSED WITH RECOGNITION FOR EVEN THE SLIGHTEST ACCOMPLISHMENT
The few times Generation Why actually gets off their ass, they become consumed with getting credit for it. Photographers are the worst at this, which is ironic since their job involves little more than pushing a button. I’ve had countless photographers bitching at me about getting credit for a contributor’s photo. I try telling them nobody builds a career on half-inch-by-half-inch passport photos and they always respond by saying, “I do this for a living” as if it’s the heaviest thing that’s ever been said.
I published a book of jokes in 2002. One picture in the book featured a magazine cover that a young painter had done. He wasn’t credited because it’s a magazine cover in the background of a photo, for chrissakes. He got a lawyer and demanded $10,000 (about twenty times what he was paid for the original painting). Luckily, the book was published by Time Warner, whose lawyers explained to him that he’s looking at more like a couple hundred bucks. He insisted on going to court, to which they responded, “By all means.” So he dropped the case.
The real icing on this particular cake was when he came up to me on the street many years later and said, “Hey, buddy. Just thought I’d say hi.” I was flabbergasted and turned into an apoplectic Larry David, screaming, “You are everything that’s wrong with America.” He said I had anger issues and walked away shaking his head.
9. THEY CAN’T SEEM TO HANDLE EVEN THE SIMPLEST TASKS
They complain about the lack of jobs but every time I give them an easy chore, they spend hours trying to figure it out. A few days after starting my website, I got sick of writing our company’s return address on envelopes. So I asked a 23-year-old female intern to have a rubber stamp made of the address. FOUR HOURS LATER she was still wandering around Google like a lost puppy.
In a rage, I hit “Start” on my iPhone’s stopwatch and grabbed her computer. “There!” I barked. “Let’s see how long this takes a normal human being to do this.” Googling “stamps” brought “rubber stamps” up as the third sponsored link. Before the stopwatch hit 13 minutes, I had a rubber stamp on its way to my door.
10. WHERE ARE THEIR BUSINESSES?
In Saranac Lake, NY, a group of residents got sick of the whole “Should we allow a Walmart in our town?” debate and decided to create their own instead of complaining. The townspeople own the new store together as a collective, and it carries everything they need, from underwear to locally crafted bric-a-brac.
“It drives me crazy when people criticize how our system works, but they don’t actually go out and try anything,” said co-owner Ed Pitts. “This is more authentic capitalism.” These people created jobs, avoided debt, and revitalized the town.
For all the complaining about capitalism I’ve seen from the kids today, I don’t see that many entrepreneurs. In the free market, the amount of NOs you get for each YES can be a grueling slog, and I don’t see many young people willing to take it in the chin that many times in a row.
Still, I like working with young people. One in ten has unbridled passion and a boundless work ethic. When you watch them learn something about business, it makes you feel like you’re here for a reason. When they eventually snatch the pebble from your hand and start doing better than you, it’s a rush that makes all the other dross seem irrelevant. The money is just frills.
So before the lynch mob at OWS blindly attacks everyone who generates income as “greedy,” they should consider that a lot of these rich bastards aren’t in it for the money. A lot of them are in it for you.
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