Saturday, April 9, 2016

DEAR GENERATION… MILLENNIAL- A Guest Post from Mike Stegall

Editor's Note: This post from Mike Stegall is in response to David Nilsen's (and others) responses to Mike's post from Tuesday, "Dear Generation Cupcake."

I have learned a lot of useful things in my life. Things like don’t spit into the wind, play nice with others, wear clean underwear if you are in an accident, and other bits of knowledge that have allowed me to get this far. One of the most important things I learned was if you make a mistake, own it! That is what I am about to do.

Last Tuesday, an article was printed that I had written called Generation Cupcake. I was surprised when some of the reaction started about it. I knew there would be some like it, some hate it, and some who thought it was funny. What hurt the most was when Amber Garrett, a young lady who responded to it with confusion, said she was disappointed in me. That hurt. I respect her a lot, and that caught me by surprise. I wondered what she meant? Then a few others were commenting that it was terrible, some printed their stories in rebuttal, and some wanted to meet me face to face.

I took one young man up on his challenge, and met him at 4:00 at Vints restaurant. Dustin Jones was a well-dressed, articulate, and mad young man! We sat down and the first thing I asked was what made him so mad that he wanted to tell me face to face? He told me of his life, his struggles, his home and his business, how hard he had worked and how he and others were trying to make a difference. When he finished, I told him my article was not aimed at him, but I was referring to the college students at Emory and other places who were demanding safe places because words like Trump 2016 on a sidewalk in chalk traumatized them. He made it very plain that was not what he took from it. He said I lumped the entire generation into one package, and that is not who they were. He was right. I apologized to him, we talked for a while, and we agreed we have more in common than differences. I drove him home (he had walked to Vints, but by now it was raining outside) we shook hands and left. I went immediately home, re-read what the article said and realized he had a point. I didn’t even mention Emory until later in the article. I started out on a rant and kept going! I then could see his point. I felt badly, because of poor writing, and not stating my intention at the top of the article It appeared I had thrown an entire generation under the bus.

The next morning at 6:00 a.m. I met Marcus Alan, another young professional. He was disappointed in me too because he had voted for me and wondered why I would attack a group that supported me? I told him the same thing I told Dustin. He also said it did not appear that way, I agreed, we talked some more and I apologized to him also. We left with a better understanding and as friends. By now, I was wondering if both sides of this had misunderstood my purpose? I was in Columbus Friday, and a few of the young folks there called me Generation cupcake when I met them! (the power of the internet!). I asked them if they knew who I was talking about, and for the most part they said yes, and thought the article was funny. I was also receiving praise from the older generation, and some of their comments seemed to be about the whole generation. That was not good. So, allow me to correct any misconceptions people have about the article.

Since the beginning, there has been this generation gap. Older folks never seem to think young people work as hard or have the same values as they do. That just seems to be human nature. Unfortunately, this seems to be fueled by the press, and dummies who write articles that are unforgiving. Generations earn their names by the ones in that generation the press pick up on. The World War II generation did not get the name “The Greatest Generation” until Tom Brokaw wrote a book about them. My generation, “the Flower Children” were all deemed hippies. Then there is generations X and Y, and now the Millennials. The Millennials need to be defined by people like David Nilsen. David wrote an outstanding rebuttal to my article that defines this generation. Everybody should read it on Darke Journal. I wish I were as eloquent as him. It should be the definition of Millennial. Will it be? Probably not, because David and most of the rest of this generation will be defined by those who get outrageous press, and whine about chalk on a sidewalk. It’s not fair, but it is reality. I helped feed that narrative. As I write this, I just met with another man named Ross. Ross is a very smart young man who brought in questions for me he had written out. I answered the best I could, and we had an awesome discussion about all kinds of things. We have talked for an hour and a half. I loved it. This is not the people I was writing about. I was very unclear of my intentions, and I hurt a lot of good people. That was wrong, and I am truly sorry. Please forgive me. I don’t know what happened to me on Wednesday when I wrote it, I must have had a real burr under my saddle. No decisions are ever made when angry, and I did just that.

I want to let you who responded to me know that I am proud of you. Why? Because you proved that you are not cupcakes, you stood up for your convictions, and you got me to right the wrong I did to you. Good for you! You also proved one of my points about bosses. Yes, you are my boss, and you did not care about my feelings when you told me how wrong I was. That’s o.k. I’ve got big shoulders, and I deserved it. I think that is a lesson learned by both of us. As your employee, I promise in the future to do better. I will be more careful, and will try not to make the same mistake twice. I am truly sorry.

Humbly submitted,

Mike Stegall

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