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My Generation Z’er ‘OK boomered’ our new garage door

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Cars and closed garage doors can make unfortunate contact at any driving age.

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By Mark Rutledge

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Generation Z has had it with us baby boomers. We were handed a golden opportunity to make the world better and we blew it. “OK boomer” has become its rallying cry of collective mistrust.

I live with three Gee Zees (I made that up because it’s easier and more fun to say), and not one of them has ever shared this “OK boomer” business with me. I had to learn about it in a place that Gee Zees almost never visit — the newspaper.

“‘OK boomer’ has become Generation Z’s endlessly repeated retort to the problem of older people who just don’t get it,” said a recent story in The New York Times. Teenagers, the story explained, use “OK boomer” as a reply to “any person over 30 who says something condescending about young people — and issues that matter to them.”

I hate to break it to the kids, but this has been done before. And the people who did it are, like, really old now.

It was Jack Weinberg who, as a free-speech-movement activist in 1965, coined the phrase, “Don’t trust anyone over 30.” But my father always thought it was Beatles drummer Ringo Starr.

A member of the Silent Generation, Dad came home laughing one day about something he’d heard on his car radio. “Tragedy struck Ringo Starr today,” the newscaster had said. “He turned 30.”

Ringo Starr and Jack Weinberg both turned 79 this year. It might be that Ringo, like a lot of other hip youngsters at the time, had repeated the “Don’t trust anyone over 30” mantra.

The point is that a lot of people said it back then, and now the kids are essentially saying it again.

Truth be told, the Gee Zees probably have valid complaints about boomers and some things that have gone south on our watch. But if it seems as though we’re never in any mood to listen, there is a very good reason: It’s because they still never empty the dishwasher without being told.

Most of our parents didn’t even own dishwashers. They made us wash and dry the dishes by hand and put them away.

Still, our parents did not take seriously our concerns about the world they were leaving for us, until we started washing the dishes without being told — somewhere around 30.

Viral slogans that are dismissive of an entire generation can be cute. But the Gee Zees have many life lessons ahead — which is why we boomers don’t give them too much grief over making the same mistakes that we made at their age.

One of my Gee Zees, for instance, began backing her car out of the garage the other day without first opening the garage door. This is the new garage that is part of the new house that we just moved into a few months ago.

It just so happens that at the same age, I did something very similar to the structural integrity of a garage that was new to my parents. That’s one reason why I did not fuss at my daughter for her mistake.

Another reason is that I plan on being as old as Ringo Starr someday. And if I should forget to open the garage door before putting the car into reverse, I don’t want my Gee Zee daughters getting any ideas about sending their boomer father to live somewhere else.

Contact Mark Rutledge at mrutledge@reflector.com or like him on Facebook at Mark Rutledge Columns.

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