This (at least)

Life

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Lifelines - Mia Borg

WHAT is go­ing on with young peo­ple these days? I’m al­lowed to say that, by the way, be­cause I am one of them. Born in 1982, I’d like to be proud of my gen­er­a­tion. It’s not easy. I know of a fel­low 20-some­thing who at­tended his girl­friend’s grand­mother’s fu­neral wear­ing board shorts and thongs. In­stead of be­ing thrown out for what would once have been con­sid­ered an un­for­giv­able act of ir­rev­er­ent dis­re­spect, noth­ing was said ex­cept, ‘‘Oh well. At least he came at all. That’s nice.’’ Is it? Is this re­ally the best we can hope for from to­mor­row’s lead­ers?

When I was run­ning my own res­tau­rant (or rather, it was run­ning me), I learned first-hand how in­ex­pli­ca­ble gen Y em­ploy­ees could be. One girl thought it ap­pro­pri­ate, in her clearly ine­bri­ated state, to text me at 3am, four short hours be­fore the start of her shift, to ‘‘in­form’’ me she was ‘‘ten­der­ing her res­ig­na­tion’’. She wouldn’t be in that morn­ing. Why, oh why, did she bother? I sus­pect she felt sat­is­fied she was do­ing the right thing. Should I have been grate­ful? At least she let me know.

I saw an­other clas­sic gen Y in­ci­dent the other day. A 22-year-old guy was due at 10am at our cafe for an in­ter­view and trial. When he didn’t show up, we were hardly sur­prised (about one in four ac­tu­ally turns up). At 10.10am, he rocks up at the counter and de­clares he’s here for the in­ter­view. No in­tro­duc­tion, no smile, no ac­knowl­edg­ment, let alone apol­ogy for be­ing late. In ad­di­tion, he was car­ry­ing a plas­tic bag for his change of clothes and reeked of al­co­hol.

The worst part is that we spent half an hour with him any­way. Is this how des­per­ate we have be­come? Why didn’t we dis­miss him im­me­di­ately? That way we would have demon­strated to him that re­gard­less of his ex­pe­ri­ence and ca­pa­bil­i­ties, he had proven him­self to be un­re­li­able, ir­re­spon­si­ble and un­pro­fes­sional. By giv­ing him the time of day, we con­doned his at­ti­tude. How can we blame him for be­ing gen­uinely sur­prised he didn’t get the job? This is, at least in part, our fault.

Our stan­dards have fallen too far. When did sim­ply turn­ing up to a job in­ter­view be­come wor­thy of praise? We shrug and say, oh well at least they turned up. What’s go­ing on? The hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try pays bet­ter in Australia than any­where else in the world. In fact salaries in Australia are gen­er­ally pretty high. Why then, do we ac­cept such medi­ocrity?

We asked Mr Hung Over, who had been in a man­age­ment po­si­tion for two years at a prom­i­nent cof­fee chain, for an ex­am­ple of a dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion he had han­dled well. A cus­tomer was un­happy that her cof­fee had not been su­gared for her. He gra­ciously of­fered to do it for her next time, but not be­fore telling her, ‘‘The sugar sa­chets are right in front of you. It’s not hard.’’

Oh well. Per­haps she should be grate­ful. At least he didn’t spit in her cof­fee.

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