• Bridging the generational divide
    August 18,2014

    It should have been a simple toilet fix but that guy “Murphy” kept throwing in the proverbial

    “monkey wrench.” Both my state of mind and physical hygiene were “in the tank” as I returned from my third trip to the hardware store. I sat at the intersection of Montpelier’s Main and State waiting for the light to change when, in the distance, the “THUMP, THUMP” started. I knew what it was, a kid in a car with his so-called music. I thought to myself, “Figures...how to make a crappy situation even worse!” It progressively got louder, like a mosquito somewhere in the bedroom heading toward me, its next lunch, when the car pulled up right beside me.

    The “THUMP, THUMP,” now deafening, hurtled out the open windows and filled the whole neighborhood. Behind the wheel of a smoking old Oldsmobile slouched the kid. I could just barely hear the throaty rumble of the Olds’ V-8 over the “THUMP, THUMP” din. It was probably because of the circumstances, my mood, my filth, the “mosquito” beside me, but time seemed to stop; we waited and waited for the light to turn.

    I couldn’t help but glance over. The kid’s oversized ball cap covered the top half of his ears and its flat bill shaded a pocked face. As his “music” went on, “THUMP, THUMP...THUMP, THUMP,” I thought of all the times I had used a chainsaw without ear protection and wished I hadn’t. I didn’t mean to stare but finally it achieved the natural response. He stared back, no doubt wondering about the weird old man in the next car. The thing that left me as surprised as if there’d been a three-eyed Martian beside me was that he smiled at me! I smiled back in spite of my mood.

    Then something happened that shocked me most of all. Just as instinctively as a dog laps itself in odd places, or a monkey pees from a tree, that kid had his smartphone up and was taking a selfie. “Strange, very strange,” I thought. About that time, horns started to honk, the V-8’s rumble turned to an angry growl and the “THUMP, THUMP” faded off in a different direction.

    My wife recently came to me chuckling over a thought she’d had about modern kids and their “selfie-centered” ways. “What if old Bell had invented texting first?” she asked. She went on to say if that he had, kids today might be walking around using a new form of communication — talking to each other!

    So there you have it, a snapshot of two generations living in different worlds, or maybe not. After all, where there are smiles, there’s hope, and there were smiles that day. In fact, my dark mood went away at the corner of Main and State. I went home, repaired that toilet and took a hot shower. I have hopes that “generation text” will somehow carry the ball into the future. Heck, they may even correct some of the things my generation screwed up.But to do it they might need to talk more, text less, and, oh yes.... Turn down the radio.

    Burr Morse lives in East Montpelier.

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