Darrell Berkheimer: Have young folks ever faced a worse time? | TheUnion.com
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Darrell Berkheimer: Have young folks ever faced a worse time?

There are many problems and issues facing workers and parents today, but I can only imagine how much more difficult the outlook is for our young folks — especially new graduates.

I try to put myself into their positions. And I’m certainly glad I am not a member of any of this year’s graduating classes — both college and high school. I can only imagine how disheartening their situation is — with so many unknowns and impending crises.

That period of ages 16 to 22 was tough enough — with the many decisions we faced back then. But we didn’t have to deal with social distancing, remote learning, an unpredictable jobs market, and soaring high costs of continuing education and housing.

Just think about how some of the questions we faced back then must be so much more difficult now — and with the many other issues we weren’t forced to worry about.

Graduates must be asking themselves: What choices can I afford? Have my parents been looking forward to me leaving the nest? Did they plan for me to be living with them indefinitely?

What jobs will be available? How can I compete with so many experienced and skilled people who have lost their jobs? Will I be able to earn much toward continuing my education?

And then there are the questions the new high school seniors are facing — such as: What about sports? Or choir or band? Will there be a debate team? A swim team?

I’m sure today’s young folks have been reading about the many problems and crises facing our nation — such as climate change, air and water pollution, projected voting issues and the reported elections and mail tampering.

We didn’t have to deal with those additional questions when I was a graduate or a senior. We simply had to decide what type of work we wanted to do, and then what education or training we would need. We could see all the other activities and choices were there, and that we would fall into some, which were just waiting for us to decide which ones.

And I know many parents and grandparents are concerned with how these issues are affecting our young folks. I’m sure many are asking similar questions — and hoping that their children and grandchildren will turn to them for support, and maybe some advice.

These questions have hit me personally — because one granddaughter is a new college graduate while her sister is a new high school senior. The college graduate had to receive her degree in the mail. Is that how her sister will receive her diploma next year?

They need our support; and we need to ask them what we can do to help. They need to know how much we care. And — as with many such situations — just being available to spend a lot of time listening may be the best help we can give.

Curmudgeon comments

Frequent readers know I often write about what I consider to be serious subjects. And sometimes I get a lot of feedback — both laudatory and critical. But never have I received so many comments from folks agreeing with me as I did after my column of four weeks ago — my curmudgeon commentary on annoying issues.

So today I want to share a few of them with you.

Jeanne Blaha of Nevada City, a frequent reader who has sent a couple comments to me before, wrote: “Oh, boy, did you hit a nerve with me today. Those fast talkers drive me insane. When I still worked in my husband’s office, part of my job would be to get the phone messages. Sometimes I would have to listen three or four times to make out what they were saying – ‘they’ usually being young females.

“The airport is particularly bad with airline announcements. I couldn’t tell how many times my husband and I have looked at either other and said, ‘What did he/she just say?’ ”

Jim Hall of Sacramento emphasized how many times people will say, “Well, you know,” … “I mean” … “you know” …. He also cited those “I just can’t understand ‘cuz they mumble, ‘understand’?”

Corna Diddily – a pseudonym I suspect – wrote: “As to the inappropriate use of ‘perfect,’ I couldn’t agree more, and find it annoying that is the response I get when simply providing my call-back number, or date of birth.”

Friend Jerry Martin, of local Sudoku fame, wrote: “Yo, Berkmudgeon, Your article today exposes a problem I’ve had for several years. Phone salespeople usually speak too fast and most with a foreign accent that makes me suspicious of their veracity. Maybe I’m becoming paranoid, but I see scams with most of these calls. …

“Also, with major companies (Comcast, PG&E, Amazon, et al) it’s almost impossible to speak with a human being. I call their customer service and always get a robot giving seven options, none of which are relevant. They have no understanding of the poor customer service they’re delivering, but apparently don’t care.”

But the response I enjoyed the most came from Laurent Clark of Penn Valley. He wrote: “As an old guy who would like to reach through the phone and throttle the jabbering young lady on the other end, may I add the maligned ‘awesome’ to the list of irritations?

“I went to my doctor to discuss my Irritable Bowel Syndrome. The young lady receptionist dropped an ‘awesome’ on my explanation for being there.

“Keep after the rascals,” he added.

Darrell Berkheimer, who lives in Grass Valley, is a frequent contributor to The Union. He has seven books available through Amazon. His sixth, Essays from The Golden Throne, includes 60 columns published by The Union, plus a dozen western travel and photo essays. Contact him at mtmrnut@yahoo.com.


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