Hey, how many millennials does it take to change a lightbulb? None! They call their landlord.
I’m kidding, millennials, I’m kidding. Settle down. Cancel the sit-in. We old people, who can be identified by the graceful arc of our baseball hat brims, are just jealous. People in their 30s have always envied people in their 20s, and they always will. Look, millennials: You can go out till 2 am on a Tuesday, get up for work five hours later and still feel pretty OK. That is a physiological impossibility for a 38-year-old. We go to bed at 10 pm, max, so naturally we’re going to give you crap and say you’re entitled. The only thing we’re entitled to is hangovers and responsibility.
Still, I feel bad for you, children of the ’80s and ’90s. You’re not making any money. You’re stressed about keeping your Snapchat streaks going. And the rent is too damn high. I don’t know what to do about any of that, but here’s the thing you can do, for your own benefit and that of your entire demographic cohort: Chill out. Because when non-millennials complain about millennials, they’re not really talking about entitlement. They’re talking about encountering adversity and motoring on through. Otherwise known as chilling out.
Allow me to provide an example. Back when I was a one-property Southie landlord, a 20-something tenant broke his lease three months after renewing it. Lease, schmease, right? The apartment rented the next month for the same money, so I chilled out. Only when the new tenant complained that he spent $100 on extra cleaning did I deduct that amount from the lease-breaker’s security deposit.
And that is when all millennial heck broke loose. Emails were exchanged. Tensions ran high. Ultimately, legal action was threatened. By which I mean, legal action against me. This was a line of thinking that just wouldn’t have occurred to me when I was a tenant—that I could walk out on $14,000 in rent and expect my whole security deposit returned posthaste.
I mean, when I was renting in Beacon Hill, contractors accidentally flooded the condo upstairs, causing our ceiling to explode in a geyser of soaked plaster. They then fixed the hole by framing up a new ceiling in our living room and coating everything in sawdust. Throughout all this, it never occurred to us to complain to our landlady. In fact, we never even met her. She was a disembodied voice on the phone who called if rent was two days late or if she saw me on Chronicle grilling sausages on the fire escape outside our bathroom. It turns out that a lot of people watch Chronicle.
Now, I’m not saying that 15 years ago all the 20-somethings were awesome. It’s possible that only I was awesome. Likewise, not every modern 24-year-old has unreasonable expectations for personal gratification. However, if you are 24 years old and find yourself thinking that your work responsibilities are beneath you, I’ve got news: They are! You’re doing the sucky stuff that someone else in your office had to do 10 years ago. Just hang in there and eventually you’ll get to do less-sucky stuff, possibly even while getting paid more money. And if, along the way, you manage not to vlog about how much you hate your job, you’ll distinguish yourself from your peers, all of whom are vlogging and requesting sabbaticals to build treehouses and creating Kickstarter campaigns for this surfboard that’s also a hoverboard and a snowboard. Just turn in the damn boring thing and then go out until 2 am and then at some point get hired away by a competing company. Did you know that Shakespeare, early on in his career, worked for the census and had to count the number of outhouses in London? OK, I made that up. But when Leonardo da Vinci was 22 he was a dogcatcher! Fine, I made that up too. You know us Gen Xers—always fudging the occupations of historical figures. It’s a stereotype, but it’s true.
And I’m barely Gen X. If I were born four or five years later, I’d be a millennial myself. Which maybe helps explain my own workplace behavior back when I was millennial-aged. One time a boss outlawed shorts, so I wore blue polyester bellbottoms and rolled them up just under my knee, like capri pants. Another time I called in sick and explained that I wasn’t sick but just didn’t want to come in that day. And I had a conversation with another boss wherein she said, “Someday you’ll get to do exactly what you want for work. That time is not now.” That conversation was prompted by my complaining about menial tasks.
Say, maybe I am a millennial after all! Now that I think about it, I do have a short attention span and I think I’m special. Come on, guys, let’s go build a treehouse! We can Snapchat the whole thing and get people to crowdfund it. I’m totally in. As long as we’re in bed by 10.