Entitled: Not Just the Young

It is the end of summer. This means running around for school clothes and classroom supplies. Over the years, I have found it easier to just take my boys on separate days. So, yesterday I finished up by taking my 17-year-old out for his turn.

We spent a couple of hours in places like Dick’s Sporting Goods and Kohl’s Department Store. Following innumerable sessions of trying on shirts and shorts at Dick’s and then, pants at Kohl’s, we were ready for lunch. It was late – about one o’clock in the afternoon. The parking lot of our local, preferred burger joint, Culver’s, was not too crowded, so we headed inside for some sustenance.

Upon entering, an elderly couple had just moved up to the register to order, and another more-middle aged couple were already ordering at the second register. There are two more registers but they were currently unattended by employees, signifying that they were not “open”.

Another family had entered the restaurant behind us. They consisted of two children under age five and the parents. The parents were probably in their early 30’s. Without trying to listen, we heard the little girl tell her mom that they should go to the register to the left because the line was shorter. Her mom responded, after several ignored attempts by the girl to move her family, that they were in “the line” and they had to wait their turn. Nice! I liked what we heard.  The girl tried one more time after the mother’s initial response because the lines were just not moving. I believe there were some issues with the customers being able to hear the employee and the employee needing to excuse herself to make an ice cream cone – as this happens at Culver’s.  Not a problem.

More and more people came in and the line extended to close to the doors. Still, just two registers were open for ordering. Asking to move again, the girl got the same response from her mom as she did the first time, so she became compliant and quiet.

That is when it happened! Two elderly women, probably in their mid 70’s came in and clearly saw there were about ten people, or four “families” including us, next in line. One loudly stated, “well this line is short” while briskly heading past all of us who had been patiently waiting for our turn, to the far left register!

The mom behind us muttered, “Oh, dear!”

I turned to her and said, “Yeah, that is just great, isn’t it? And here you are trying to teach your children to be patient and wait in line for their turn.”

Then, the third register opened with the employee calling, “I can help the next person.”  The two elderly women who had just walked in the restaurant, past all ten of us waiting, moved from behind the couple at the second register, to the newly opened third register and placed their order! This happened before any of us waiting in line had moved!

Wow! You know, there is a lot said these days about young people being entitled. Today, we observed that this is a problem not reserved only for the younger generation. These two elderly ladies totally disregarded proper social etiquette about lines in a public place. There was no way they could have misunderstood that all of us were waiting our turn!

The little girl was shown what not to do. Her mom was disappointed at this show of disrespect and entitlement, as we all probably were.  Over lunch, my son and I had a conversation about the behavior. He told me that he fights the perception daily, that it is the young who are entitled. He is conscious of not acting in such a way – conscious at work, at school, and even at the leadership camp he attended this summer,  You do not get to disregard others.

Yes, the “me first” attitude belongs to more than just the young in our American society today.  I have seen it recently when traveling, when shopping, and now when trying to order a simple lunch at a popular restaurant.  It needs to stop. You need to wait your turn. It doesn’t matter whether you are four or seventy-four, just wait in line with the rest of us.

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