Clip from Full Metal Jacket
It is a typical morning at the fencing shop in Kamloops. The large warehouse is busy with crews collecting parts for their various installation projects. Work trucks pull out of the bays. The forklift whips around the large, asphalt yard carrying bundles of pipe.
The spring-turning-to-summer air is still cool. It blows into the shop, carrying the scent of last night’s rain.
I am in the shipping room leafing through papers. The welder and sales team come in and out, creating a plan of attack for what will inevitably be another crazy day. I organize orders on my clipboard amid the noise of voices, machines, and clinking metal parts.
Above the commotion a voice can be heard barking sharply.
“Hurry up! No, not that one! What the f*&k!! Ugh!”
It is Ken, the most experienced fence installer on the team, yelling at his young helper named Chris.
Ken is 68 years old. He is built like a brick. He grew up on a farm. He raised four boys. He has been installing fences for decades and probably hasn’t missed a day of work. With shaded glasses, tough, tanned skin, and a constant fighting pose, he isn’t someone to mess with regardless of his ‘retirement’ age.
“Put some muscle into it! Damn it, c’mon! We don’t got all day!”
Chris, the helper, is 22 years old. He is thin and wiry, all arms and legs, and flaps around Ken trying to keep up with the orders, failing most times to do things correctly.
He speeds into my shipping room, asking for a tape measure.
“You better hurry,” I say with a smirk, swiftly handing him the tape.
Chris flashes me a quick smile and gives me a stiff salute before running back through the warehouse.
Ken goes through helpers like rolls of toilet paper. His helpers typically last two days here before marching out midday, never to be seen again.
Some older people on the team tell me the millennials ‘need to have a thicker skin’, and ‘they don’t know how to work’, and ‘you can’t expect the old guys to change their ways.’
Later that afternoon, I corner Ken and ask him a simple question: “Can you describe for me what a typical millennial is like?”
He stares at me blankly at first, then slowly shakes his head back and forth, a husky chuckle escaping his now smiling mouth.
“I have no f&*king words.” He turns his broad back to me and exits, still chuckling.
Young Chris is almost finished his first month on this job. He is lasting, despite Ken’s ‘old school’ ways. I ask him how he is managing it…
“I don’t take it personally when he gets bitchy. The grumpiness is only temporary.”
“Have you ever seen Full Metal Jacket?” he asks, his deep set eyes eager and bright.
“A million years ago.”
“The drill sergeant in that movie reminds me of my work partner.”
We laugh again.
What do you think? Are millennials too soft? Are baby boomers too harsh?
I personally have heard a lot of criticism toward millennials in all areas of my life, not just at work. They are typically described as lazy, directionless, and entitled.
But what of the baby boomers? In my opinion there isn’t a certain age you can reach where it is suddenly acceptable to stop changing and flexing in our ever-changing social environment.
Please share your thoughts and if you have a good perspective or story to contribute, PM me and we can do a blog together!