Millennials not the rude ones

You can’t look at the Internet or watch news for more than 20 minutes without seeing some ‘think piece’ talking about how Millennials are lazy, narcissistic, coddled, etc, etc. One phrase these critics repeatedly throw out is a “culture of entitlement” – supposedly, everyone under 30 lives in one.

If you think Millennials live in a culture of entitlement, you’ve never seen a Boomer or Gen Xer shop.

I got my first job in April of 2015, as a 16-year-old high school sophomore – I’ve worked retail for over two years now.

I don’t have the oddly-specific and not-very-practical superpower of knowing someone’s exact birth year by looking at them, so I don’t know exactly which generation everyone I meet falls into. But in my time working retail, almost every single rude, unruly, disrespectful or criminal customer I’ve had an interaction with has been someone who looks over 40 at the youngest.

Boomers will complain that Millennials want the world handed to them on a silver platter, then walk into a department store and demand to open up vacuum sealed packaging so they can see if the electronic they are thinking about buying comes with a second cord.

When an item meant to be sold sealed is opened before purchase, it makes it nearly unsellable. Employees have to first find the item (usually placed on a completely different shelf from where it belongs), then try to force all of its pieces (usually at least one of which a shoplifter ran off with since it was out of place for so long) back into place inside the package (which is impossible since the items are vacuum sealed in and won’t fit in the packaging without special equipment), then tape up the package and put it back where it belongs.

It never gets sold. After all, if you went to go buy a television, would you want the one with a box that has been tampered with? When you tell these people that they cannot open the $500 box, they stare at you in disgust and question “Well how am I supposed to tell if I want it?”

You buy it, take it home, open it, install it. If you don’t like it, you have 30 days to bring it back with receipt. When something is bought and returned, the store can often mark it as defective and get a manufacturer rebate, or something to that effect. When an item is opened, not purchased and discarded – literally shoplifting -– it never gets sold unless it’s put on clearance, and the store loses money on it.

If you buy and item and it’s legitimately defective or someone messed up while preparing it for you, please, return it, you have that right. But when customers buy, for example, a can of paint, use half of it, decide they don’t like the color and try to exchange it for a different one, it’s inherently scummy. If everything was done perfectly and you just changed your mind half way through, that’s not the store’s fault. Not everything runs on the same rules as a library; older people don’t always seem to get that.

These people barge into a store like they own the place and get furious if there’s no sale going on, if the item they want is out of stock, if the specialist they need to talk to is on lunch break and wait 10 minutes, or if the store that was open for over 12 hours earlier is closing soon and they don’t have time to browse.

I’m not saying everyone over the age of 40 is automatically a terrible person or that bratty young people don’t exist, or even that customers aren’t allowed to get impatient with people. But even if it’s anecdotal examples, it is frustrating that society accuses younger people of being entitled but glosses over how rude and self-absorbed older people can be interacting with retail and service workers.