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Figuratively Firebomb the Hell Out of Yelp and Other Reasons Millennials Should Be Screaming Mad
Dear Talia Jane, former Yelp employee:
Everything you said is correct. It's ridiculous that you aren't able to live on your salary when Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman makes so much. It's ridiculous that you are making the same amount of money as someone in a far less skilled job.
Do not let anyone tell you that you are wrong. And do not let anyone tell you that you are whining.
You should be furious, and I'll tell you exactly why: When I was in college, all the way back in 1993, I worked a (mostly) part-time job that paid more than $8 per hour. I also enjoyed full medical benefits, paid sick days and paid vacation.
Boomers should stick that in their pipes and smoke it.
Old People Don't Do Retail
I remember a time when you never saw old people working in stores. Okay, so there might be that one old lady manning the counter at the antique store that she and her equally ancient husband owned, but you never saw older people working at Target and you never, ever saw people with gray hair behind the counter at a place like McDonald's. It just didn't happen.
And why on earth would it? These are the people who allegedly dreamed of retiring from the moment they began working. The last generation that will see full Social Security benefits. And the generation that whines the most about how unfair the world is and how lazy our American Millennials are.
Fast forward 40 years: When you go into pretty much any lower end store or restaurant, the vast majority of worker bees are people close to/well over retirement age. Theoretically, that should be a good thing, but it usually isn't. And it is definitely not good for our economy or our society.
They aren't better workers. They aren't more polite (if they even deign gaze upon you, peon). Some of them are so inept it makes you wonder exactly how they got a job. They can't work the computerized cash register. They can't hear the customer. They have physical disabilities that nearly prevent them from putting things in a bag.
Please tell me this isn't our future. Please tell me that we are not preventing young, inexperienced workers from getting these jobs because those old people just need the money more because they didn't know how to plan.
And it's not like the work hours are better, or there are fewer retail jobs. It used to be, stores closed around 6 o'clock. It used to be, stores were closed on Sundays. It used to be, that stores were closed on Christmas, New Year's, Thanksgiving, Easter and usually the 4th of July. Nothing was open except maybe the grocery stores and the gas stations. And no, it wasn't especially convenient, but since when did retail workers have to cater to every customer's whim? But this is where we are now. The 24/7, all hours, open all day all night truck stop mentality.
Don't forget who changed that, because it wasn't the Millennials.
Temp Meant Temp
I graduated from high school in 1989. My mom discouraged me from working during school, so when I decided to delay college and get a job, my choices were limited to pretty awful jobs. The only thing I absolutely refused to do was anything food related; it totally grossed me out. In no way rad to the max.
I tentatively applied at a couple of hotels, but the idea of working the night desk at dodgy hotels out by the airport freaked me out; I ended up not calling them back. Instead, I got a job through Kelly Temporary Services; it was a surprisingly stable and decent paying form of employment.
Lemme tell you who else worked as a temp: Other young people, older people going back to school, people who had messed up in their lives/work and had trouble getting hired anywhere else, and people who needed a really flexible schedule or a little extra money. This wasn't a job for older people (unless they had felony records) and although it could pay well, there were no benefits unless you paid extra for them.
But I didn't care, because I was just out of high school and I lived at home.
But guess what, Talia? Even as a temp, and even all the way back in 1989, I made more than $8 per hour.
But now? People might make more working as temps, but they have to bring a lot more to the table. Older people do work as temps, because they can't find real jobs. No benefits? No problem, I'm on Medicaid! Low pay? No problem, I get my retirement check on the 1st of every month! Epic instability? NO PROBLEM, that gives me more time for my grandkids!
Not only that, but "temp" is now pretty much the rent to own program for employers; you have to qualify to be a permanent employee before you're even allowed to temp. It's not a temporary position while a beloved receptionist is on vacation anymore. Now the receptionist dared ask for a vacation so they fired her and Yippee! That's where you, the temp, comes in!
My new book, Plastiline, available now on Amazon!
No Credit? No Problem!
There is a great, big, smelly elephant in the room, but don't acknowledge it. It makes the Boomers crazy, and makes us GenXers look like the most irresponsible generation in history.
You know what kept us GenXers afloat? Credit. The credit heaped on us by shifty credit card companies run by our parents' generation.
Yeah, there were jobs, but we also had obscene amounts of credit. Companies set up tables in the student union and lured us into signing up for credit cards; they wouldn't approve us if we didn't have a job, right? But if you were a student, you were always approved, no matter how many cards you signed up for. My mom never talked to me about her credit cards, but then, why would she? In the 1980s, credit was still pretty hard to get and you most certainly had to prove you had an income to pay the bill.
The credit card companies figured out pretty fast that parents would pay off their college kids' bills, no questions asked. No itemized bill proving they were spending the money at the book store and not the bar? No problem! Oh yeah .... and when we ran out, they just increased the limits!
That's one thing that was ignored in the bank crisis of 2008; credit was the only thing keeping our economy alive. So your generation doesn't get the safety net we got. All that garbage about people needing to take responsibility and pay their bills? On the surface, they're right. But when you scrape away the outer shell, you see the rot on the inside. They never should have given millions of kids who had no income pretty much unlimited amounts of credit.
If It Makes You Feel Any Better, We Get It
We didn't know how bad it was. We knew we couldn't have this credit card debt anymore, but 2008 threw us for a curve. And in 2008, they took all our credit away, too.
Know why you can't afford to buy stuff now? You know the answer: Because you aren't paid enough and you aren't allowed to have credit.
We GenXers had credit, so we didn't demand higher wages. We didn't need higher wages, we just bought stuff on our cards. So it is kind of our fault for you not being paid a living wage.
On behalf of all GenXers, I apologize for us not seeing the obvious scam that was being played on this country. The scam that has left people a bit younger than us and our children in this mess. I apologize that your generation is paying for the financial mess caused by the older generations.