Young, Smart, and Disregarded As A Valid Resource

I have been involved with gardening and plants for over seven years.  When I first started working at the greenhouse that I currently manage, I didn’t know the difference between a petunia and a geranium, let alone how they grow or where to find them.  Now after so long and studying and researching and talking to customers, I am somewhat of a plant expert.  I understand the health and maintenance needed, along with growing conditions, when to prune, how to fertilize, and so much more.  I’m always learning and always open to advice.  Customers have come to trust my judgement and advice because I have earned their trust and confidence.

Yet Saturday I was sharing some tips on tomato care to an older couple, who had been gardening for most of their lives, and I was shot down.  They had lost tomatoes to a fungus and I suggested fertilizing with some acid, because the soil pH could be off from having already planted tomatoes that season.  Instead of saying something polite like, “Thank you, I already know that” or “Oh, cool.”  They condescendingly told me “I’ve been gardening all my life I think I can figure it out myself,” and used their time as gardeners to disregard me completely.  Yes, I know I’m about 40 years younger, but that doesn’t mean I have no idea what I’m talking about.  There’s so many plants and so many things to know about plants, that there’s literally know wat you know everything there is to know about everything. To me the gardening community is one that is open and constantly helping one another.  I’ve had customers teach me tips and tricks that I’ve since passed on to others.

Incidents like this happen frequently, but only from older people.  It’s as if as soon as you look below a certain age, anything you have to say doesn’t have value.  Even in the hardware store, I get some respect because I know more than most people coming in, but older men won’t listen to me.  In a hardware store, there is a lot of stuff, and all the stuff has a lot of different names, whether slang or not, and this makes figuring out what a customer really wants a real challenge.  So you’re forced to ask question after question until you realize the doodad they’re asking for is really a 1/2 inch 90 degree galvanized elbow.  If you’re polite and work with me, we’ll find the product in much less time then if you get snarky and say you’ll just go to Menards. Trust me, no one at Menards knows a damn thing.

Knowledge has no age limit. Many people in their 20s are fresh out of school, whether it be college, a trade school, or even high school, but we have a large breadth of knowledge.  We learn from listening and talking and reading and hands on experience.  Perhaps we don’t have the wisdom that age has brought older generations, but we sure as hell have gone through a lot as individuals that have aged us all differently.  Stop disregarding advice due to age or gender.

Example:  A woman was looking for oil for her lawn mower and say it was 30 oil, I showed her 30 SAE oil.  She said no.  I said, “Ma’am this is the oil you need.”  She responded with, “I came here last time and you didn’t have it, I can’t believe you guys wouldn’t have oil for a lawnmower, you should get some in.”  “Ma,am, this is the oil you need.”  “No, it’s not.”  And she left.  I was so concerned I was wrong, I asked every other employee in the store and they told me, “You were right, she doesn’t know what she was talking about.”

I am not trying to be an asshole, I work customer service, I genuinely want to help you.  But don’t assume I’m wrong when I work here, I’m most likely right.  It’s just so strange how hesitant people become when trusting others.  I’m not a high schooler, I’m an adult with a job and a degree.  What’s so scary about asking me a question about plumbing.  There’s no harm in asking.  Maybe I can’t tell you how to wire a house, but I can help you get the pieces you need to rewire a lamp. Everyone has useful knowledge to offer, and it might come from an unexpected source, but that’s what makes knowledge so fantastic, it has no limits.

For some reason the media has painted our generation as a bunch of self-entitled, lazy, useless individuals.  When in reality we work hard in every aspect of our lives trying to get by.  So don’t be discouraged by older people being shitty to you, just keep learning and gaining knowledge, because we’re the future.  We may not be listened to by old people, but the younger generation can use our help just as we can use theirs.  Open yourself up to the possibility that someone knows more than you.

Have an experience similar to mine?  Comment down below, let’s compare notes.

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