Scene one: Summer 1955 – more than half of all Americans report going to religious services in the last 7 days. Sunday morning at the Gill household. Up for church early to also make sure we get a place on Jones Beach in Long Island by 9:30 AM. Wake up time? 6:30 AM.
Scene two: 1965 family event of any type – picnic, barbecue, birthday party, meeting cousins and aunt at swimming pool. Time the hostess has said to arrive: 2:00 PM. Time of our family of 4 arrives at event? 2:05 PM give or take 2 minutes.
Scene three: 1979 DDI International home office in Pittsburgh. Place fellow blogger Cathy and I met. Meeting start time: 11:15 AM. Time we all arrived for the meeting? 11:05-11:10 AM.
Scene four: 1989 – meeting friend for drinks at restaurant in midtown Manhattan – her job in CT mine in Westchester County, NY. Each roughly 1.5 hours away requiring several types of transportation. Time we are meeting: 6:00 PM. Time we each arrive? Between 5:55 PM and 6:05 PM.
Now dear FabulousOver60 sisters – before you say what I think you are going to say: “Damn right we were on time – that is the way it was and always should be. We made commitments and we KEPT them”, let’s consider a few things.
True. But remember the culture and the lack of technology made it very difficult to change plans. Plans were made, set and done “in ink on the calendar”. Changing one’s mind would involve inconveniencing someone else and this was something that simply was not considered appropriate. Besides, how would this be accomplished? Multiple phone calls? Well that was tough to do. You made a plan you kept to the plan – only death (your own or someone VERY close) would allow you to not show up on time and ready for the planned work or play activity.
Enter people 50 and younger – gen X and Y. Planning, commitments and getting together have always been a bit more haphazard for them. Yes, dinner was at 6 – but sometimes 7 – and then sometimes it was take out. Parents got divorced, businesses went bankrupt, work was sometimes easy and other times impossible to find – the world was not as rules-conscious with clear expectations as the world we were raised in.
So it’s dinner time at their house – they suggested – 6ish. You arrive at their home/apt at 6:15 PM and someone might be in the shower or suggesting that something came up and we’re all going out to dinner. There is a plan to meet for lunch at a fun sushi place at 1 PM before the show. Text arrives at 12:45 PM – “confusion – not going to make it – meet you at show”. “We are coming Friday morning” – that would be anytime on Friday between 10 AM and 3 PM.
Before you say it: “Right Patty, they all are a bunch of selfish, selfie-taking rude people who don’t keep any commitments to anyone but themselves”. Let me suggest, that the reason younger people flow this way is because our current culture flows this way and has been breaking down formalities and rules for decades. Most of us loved changing the world back in 1964 and 1974. We just didn’t think it would change quite THIS MUCH. More equality for women – we are IN on that. Women acting as crude and stupid as only men used to do, actually doesn’t seem right to us.
The scenarios at the beginning of this post were NOT the rule for generation X or Y. Their parents/elders, us boomers, were not as rigid and demanding as our parents were. What we didn’t foresee was everything demanding complete obedience and conformity then; anyone can do anything anytime and that’s okay. We wanted to be treated with a little respect. Now no one treats anyone with any particular respect one way or the other – we don’t love it. We “got” rules – we just wanted them to be a bit more flexible, not completely thrown out the window.
Phones and other devices make it easy and without consequence to change one’s mind and plans – and do it without having to explain or talk to someone face to face. Hurting someone’s feelings – a great taboo for boomers, hasn’t been around for a LONG time though we hung on to it. Everyone is supposed to be OK with that. But many of us boomers do get hurt and do not get people’s comfort with every person for themselves. We envy (or detest?) younger people’s blasé way of handling the constant shuffling of agendas and the freedom to do/not do just what they want anytime they want.
If you are FabulousOver60, let me suggest you keep expecting compliance with times and dates from your contemporaries you really know well and who share your standards. But, realize even many boomers are getting used to ‘anything goes’ – don’t be surprised if your sister Susan doesn’t show up at your 49th anniversary party; or a new friend you just met at a charity event shows up an hour late for a cocktail party starting at 6:30 PM. There is an avalanche of all of us letting ourselves off the hook for anything and everything that is pretty frightening.
Yes, times HAVE changed and we have two choices (more but this post must end soon). Make plans only with those who share our style. Or realize, when we make plans with those not our style, (like daughters, sons, nieces and nephews, business acquaintances or new friends from a club or religious group) accept that the chances of plans changing is now near 85%-99%. Invest less in the plan so when it does change you are less disappointed. That’s a bit depressing I know, but in some ways who needed to do all the cleaning, planning and dusting for every guest who would cross our doors or to pick an outfit to wear weeks in advance? All this ‘anything goes’ isn’t perfect, but maybe we can start to take ourselves off our own hooks and go with the flow a bit more.
Not with me though – you say 11 on the 20th at a mutually convenient Starbucks, you better be there at 11. Somehow, I am not worried – we’ll both be there – dressed appropriately.
Please share this with people – we need to come to common ground!