A common theme this year in tennis is Rafa complaining about workplace conditions. He complained about Madrid’s blue clay experiment (though to be fair, so did Nole and others), he complained about playing in the rain at the French Open, and he complained about Rosol in Wimbledon. Lots of people have pointed out how this seems strange, because Rafa was taught to play with badly strung racquets and poor tennis balls, so that he learned that he lost because he played poorly, not because of poor equipment or conditions. However, in the last year or two, Rafa has become far more vocal, complaining about aspects of the tour he does not like, the most notable being last year’s US Open, when he, Andy Murray, and Andy Roddick complained to the tournament head about being asked to play on unplayable courts. (I agree with this course of action, by the way.)
Now, I could use this blog post to talk about Rafa’s complaints, either defending him or criticizing him, but I’d much rather use this as a springboard to talk about something far more important and far more riveting, my favorite subject in the world…me!
*Begins singing favorite song, sung to the tune of the Meow Mix commercial*
“me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me…”
Now, this post won’t be about me perse, but rather about people complaining about workplace, and how people seem to complain more as they get older.
(I feel I should point out that my workplace experience may be strange compared to others. Perhaps in other environments younger people complain to their superiors all the time, but this has not been my experience. But my friends, co-workers and I might be incredibly unusual.)
I think there are a few reasons for this, based on my own observations.
First of all, it’s possible that young people (in their 20’s) are far more likely to be resiliant, open to change, and to accept problems or living with less. Young people seem to be a little more adventurous, either by necessity, choice, or simply predisposition. Now, I readily accept that this is not a universal truth. While young people are more likely to stay in hostels or in cheap hotels, I know a young person who simply could not even imagine staying in a hostel. (Poor thing, she’s missing out. 😦 ) But I wonder if, just as children are more likely to want peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every single day, young adults are just readily more able to cope with difficulties or deficiencies.
However, I think that, more importantly, the right to complain about life in the workplace seems to be something that a person has to earn. Young people often go into the workplace and face a certain degree of hazing, due to the supposition that the young person thinks that he knows everything and needs to learn his place. (This isn’t totally false, I thought I knew everything when I was 22. Now I actually do know everything! 🙂 ) I was talking about this with my friend last Saturday, who is struggling with an incredibly unhealthy work environment, and I told her, “We have to pay our dues by allowing psychopaths to treat us like shit.” She laughed and said, “That’s exactly right!” This is even more true now, with a bad economy. Young people cannot simply find a new job the next day if they are unhappy with their current job; if we want to eat, we have to take the abuse.
I also think that older people can look at the complaints of younger people in the workplace and do not take them seriously. I recently had an occurance where a co-worker complained about another co-worker of mine to a manager. I remember thinking, “They’ll take her more seriously because she’s older than I am.” I do think that there’s some truth in that. At the workplace, an older person’s complaints are seen as more valid than a younger person. Now, I’m not entirely convinced that this is some sort of reverse age discrimination, because it could also be because older people have learned the art of workplace diplomacy. Older people have learned how to phrase their complaints in a way that will get the sympathy and attention of their superiors.
This of course brings the key question: how can young people who have legitimate concerns, bring those concerns to a superior in such a way that their concerns be heard? I don’t know the answer, and so far, very few of my friends have the answer either. Is our only hope to switch jobs when the opportunity presents itself, or to simply bunker down and wait to grow old, when we too can treat other people like crap and get away with it? Or perhaps my friends and I are just incredibly bizarre and unlike any other young people in the country, which is also possible.
Any suggestions on this topic will be appreciated. Seriously. 🙂