Sunday, September 30, 2012

When did this start?

When did this start:

On Friday afternoon I was at the Planet Fitness in Clifton Park. I was on the elliptical a few feet from the front desk. The twenty-something woman working the counter (and all she was doing) was nothing less than a jaw-dropping watch while I worked out.

I’m guessing she was about 22 years old, very tall, very attractive, but seemingly not interested in grabbing the gym’s employee of the month. As people came in to swipe their ID cards at the desk, they were made to wait several seconds if not minutes as this young woman finished her text messaging or cell-phone call. The whole time I was there she was glued to this phone like a drone. Then she decides it’s time to eat, and microwaves something that stank like old Chinese food and dirty socks. Um, this is a gym, honey, people are sweating it out. The nuked-garbage smell washed over the place like a tsunami, and she ate this foul-smelling grub, eyes on the cell phone, oblivious to anything around her, including the people waiting to get swiped.

How in-your-face unprofessional does it get? When did this start? All I ever hear is how nobody can find jobs, there’s no work, etc, but so often I see people lazy, unprofessional, and abusive of the work they’ve been given. I get it: the Planet Fitness counter isn’t a job in the West Wing. But you’ve got to start somewhere. That’s how success happens. The gym was full of members, could’ve been lawyers, doctors, business owners. I met the guy who kickstarted my career when I was washing cars at Hoffman. That's how it goes. She was so mindlessly locked on that phone, just shoveling Chinese food down her throat. It was awful. She has a great look, the kind that can open doors for her with people. But that entitlement combined with a comical work ethic isn’t going to go anywhere. People are always watching. Don't believe me? Bet this young woman has no idea I was watching and wrote about her here and now. Trust me, this wasn’t a onetime thing, I’ve seen her that unprofessional several times before. When did this start?

When did this start:

When did auto/life/home insurance company commercials become so darn witty and involved? From the Geico gecko, the cavemen boys, the Farmer’s Insurance team, and our fair-faced Flo, just to name a few, these commercials have become a bonanza of Barnum & Bailey’s circus characters, involved in arching stories that have inciting incidents, climaxes, and resolutions, all the while beating us over the head with “Fiddler on the Roof” witticisms. I literally cannot even follow half these insurance commercials. They have gone so far over the top. When did this start?

I watched a Geico gecko spot today where he runs into the Road Runner and that cartoon character that chases him in all those old cartoons. Then an ACME vault falls on that thing that chases the Runner, and the gecko says, “strange place,” and it ends. Um, what? That was an insurance commercial?

But they’re all like that now. It’s just thirty seconds of post-graduate, Silicon-Valley wit that has nothing to do with insurance. It’s getting entirely out of control. Just sell insurance at the lowest price, guys, and leave the character performances aside. When did this start?

When did this start:

I was watching a story on YNN yesterday about frat parties at Union. It seems that the school has decided to get directly involved, on a bureaucratic level, with the weekend activities of their student body. Of course it’s a “good” idea to regulate people at that young age, and it’s "important" to create a safe community, and it reads like a PR dream to parents, but when did this start? Isn’t partying and going to frats kind a rite of passage for college kids? I know I was the first to call for huge U Albany response after that St. Pat's mess on Hudson Ave a few years back. But this isn't that.

I don’t remember--when I was in college--school bureaucrats being so involved with what happened on the weekends in the bars or the frat houses. I remember foam parties, and fifty-cent nights, and Halloween blowouts at frats. Now there are rules, and periodical checks, and paperwork, and oh my God. Maybe this is the right approach by schools. It’s just this hyper-sized PR presence in all societal things now. One girl gets too drunk in Texas, cancel drinking in every college in the country. It’s like buttering your bread with a machete. It’s a good thought, I admit that, but there are some things in life that don’t work with a bureaucratic partnership.

College is the transition into adulthood where young people find their individuality and prepare to make a career, and one need not look further than the idiot fest on Hudson Ave to know college kids can be knuckleheads in a major way. But college is also Spring Break trips and twelve people packed in a cab on a Friday night. It is that too. And I don't remember school officials on my Spring Break plane or SUNY security personnel sitting with us in our Friday night cab. When did this start?

Brian Huba

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