Mr. Watson

So I’ve noticed something, and don’t know whether it should concern me or if I’m just being an old stick-in-the-mud.  Help me out here, people.  I’ve seen this little meme or photo macro or whatever you want to call it floating around lately, and the basic gist is “I fear for a world run by kids that received trophies just for participating and have never been spanked.”  True enough.  Good point, nameless internet person. Wisdom.  But then I also think that our parents said essentially the same thing about us, and for God’s sake, how many of our moms and dads got kicked out of the house during the 60’s and 70’s for smoking pot, listening to “that rock-n-roll trash” or smoking (GASP!) weed?!?  No, I think the future will be just fine.  It’s evolution.  It’s the job of the younger generation to question the older, and also hold it responsible for its actions, its wars, its recessions, etc.  Ain’t always gonna see eye-to-eye.  It’s natural.  It’s good.  It’s right.

“No, dad. I said FUCK SOCKS!! Go ahead and kick me out. YOU KNOW I’M RIGHT, MAN!”

However…

Something that I’ve picked up on recently makes me wonder if there isn’t a seismic shift underway in our society.  I’m not saying it’s good or bad: I’m just saying the world is going to be very different in a generation, and it has nothing to do with technological advances or the divorce rate or gay marriage. No, it’s the overall familiarity that has permeated everything.  EVERYTHING.  It’s a casual society now.  When the President of the United States of America shows up in a suit with NO TIE and possibly smoking a cigarette, you know something’s up.  Sports bars are on every corner, and yet the martini bar is an endangered species.  (True, shows like Mad Men have brought them back from the brink a little bit, but it’s a losing game.)  And while familiarity is all well and good, it seems like there’s a wholesale lack of respect getting ready to run away and make things…messy.  As an example, I have never once been called “Mister Watson” by any of my kids’ friends.  Not once.  I have been called “Mister Turner” by some, and I guess that’s better than nothing.  And I’ve seen this in other kids, not just the ones my boys run with.  The ONLY people that get the old-school treatment are schoolteachers, and even that is fading.  My kids have referred to their pre-school teachers in the past as “Miss Kay, Miss Jill” et. al.  I seriously don’t remember some of the kids’ teachers last names because, well…I never heard them.

Pictured: Miss Kim gets tired of dicking around and does this shit herself.

When I was a kid, it was always “Mrs. Gillenwater” or “Mr. Crabtree.”  I never even knew Mr. Crabtree’s first name.  He was this older, towering, greying person who called my friend Chris in for dinner.  I didn’t NEED to be on a first-name basis with him, and frankly preferred it that way.  It would never have occurred to me to show up at the Crabtree home, knock on the door, and when the father answered say “Hey, Doug!  Is Chris home?”  That’s some Eddie Haskell shit, and it just…we just didn’t do that.

Yo, Ward! You gonna pass that dutch?

Maybe I’m just too old-fashioned, but it seems like putting the kids on a  first-name basis with the adults makes them feel a bit, um…entitled.  And don’t get me started on how kids today wouldn’t even think about using “Yes, sir” or “No, ma’am.”  It’s just language that’s fading from our culture.  What does it mean for the future?  I don’t know.  It’s happening in the workplace right now.  We refer to our General Manager at work as “Jim.”  Heck, the old C.O.O. was simply “Tony.”  In the old days the most powerful man in the company would’ve been “Mr. Richards.”  Is this better or worse?  Seriously, I don’t know.  I tend to be very old-fashioned in most respects (many of you have seen how I dress from time-to-time) but maybe this is the way the Little Guy feels like he’s on the same level with the Big Guy, even if he isn’t.  Is that so bad?  I’m a Little Guy, so I can’t really say.

I guess time will tell.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Comment below, sir or ma’am!

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10 responses to “Mr. Watson

  1. Good topic. I grace people with sir & ma’am, & such all the time. Even folk younger than myself. I feel respect is a fading courtesy

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  2. A lot of people have a problem with 12th place ribbons. To which I respond, “the kid who gets the ribbon knows its not a big deal.”

    Why is it that people forget what it was like as a kid? We weren’t geniuses, but we weren’t idiots. A participation certificate does not give a child an entitlement complex. Parents who mollycoddle asshole children do.

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  3. Good post Turner, and I agree. Society in general has become way too casual. I am the youngest in my office, by a good 20 years, and I am the only one who insists on wearing dresses and heels. It astounds me how casual some people come to work- a few wear Crocs of all things. Anyway, sadly, I don’t think there’s anything we can do about it. But keep fighting the good fight, and I will too!

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    • I remember when they opened a “Fox & Hound” down in Evansville. At first, the dress code was “business casual.” Then they changed it to “no ballcaps or shorts.” By the end, it looked like Wal-Mart in there. Sigh.

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  4. We know all are managers by their first name. It doesn’t make our head of ops any less frightening.

    The only people who seem to get called mr or mrs nowadays are surgeons. It seems like a good idea to show respect to a person who could have his or her hand inside your rib cage one day.

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