They say that youth is wasted on the young but they must be deaf because they are not hearing it. The hardest working and most grounded youngsters that I know seem permanently worried about finances and futures, all far too early. It is as if they look to their parents and aspire no further which is a crying shame. What your parents have achieved was the result of the point in time at which they hit certain points in life. Their accomplishments come from life and experience you can’t borrow or copy that you have to make your own.
I was talking to a young lady recently who, whilst enjoying her job, was bemoaning the lack of consistency and money. This is a young lady who is, to all intents and purposes, young free and single. The apparent desire to become as her parents seems to have limited her ambition. I see this in lots of youngsters and I struggle with where the drive to succeed has gone. There is no real employment where I live but it seems people can’t see forward enough to make sacrifices today. Sure it is a lovely place to live, the downside is a few hours commuting to earn a living wage. Yes travel is expensive but if you earn more, albeit spending it on travelling, you grow and become more employable. I recently discovered what the mad, space obsessed, commuter does for a living. He works as a shop assistant in Waterstones in town, the commuting alone must wipe out his salary. I am sure that he has some deal carried over from a previous owner but nonetheless he is spending most of his salary on travel costs. I just don’t see youngsters prepared to sacrifice the time, money and effort that they need to just to get a start in a hard world.
I would love to be in the carefree state years so that I could disappear for a year to sunnier climbs and work to live. In your younger years you should use the lack of responsibilities to allow you to explore. You don’t need to make a great deal of money or look to the future just pay your rent and your beer tab. It is those experiences and the fact that you made the effort to go and have them that distinguishes you from the crowd and helps you grow. The Kiwis have the right idea here, travel is a rite of passage for them, everybody spends a couple of years in the bigger world. I have worked alongside business heirs and sons of wealthy families who have been pushed out into the world to grow and experience the world.
The world doesn’t dance to your tune and wont bring opportunity to your door. You have to go out and grab opportunity and experiences, you have to write your story. There must be some way in this nanny state to mandate that youth are young while they can be, old age and responsibility finds you no matter how hard you hide.
I read something on Facebook the other day that alluded to the fact that women that are called bitchs, are in fact just smart. On careful reflection I think we can expand this to say that grumpy old men are simply experienced.
I have spent most of today in development meetings for a new product. To one side of me were the fresh faced enthusiastic people who believe that they have the opportunity to change the world. Luckily the other side of the table held equally battle scarred veterans as myself. At nearly thirteen years in the role I no longer believe that we can make step changes. I’ve had my share of success but the heady days are gone, cynicism has pushed them out. Frankly I am becoming tired of talking a good job. It is not that I wish to discourage the keenness of youth, far from it. It is just that now it seems a waste to translate such enthusiasm into so little change and more grumpy old men.
Does this make me a grumpy old man? No it’s just the weight of experience.
I see this creeping into other areas of life as well which must just be a demonstration of my experience. I no longer take any pleasure in getting drunk. I like drinking but experience has taught me that drunk is not a good state to be in or recover from.
I always pay my credit cards off in full because experience tells me that the alternative is costly. I rarely eat take away food because it always makes me feel terrible the next day.
And of course, I can’t leave experience without looking at my relationship status. I am so single as to be binary. Again experience has taught me that I am not suited to anything else. When I was younger I had a drive to change that but with experience comes wisdom.
So am I a grumpy old man? I don’t think so, I am an experienced man though. Now if my experiences make me seem grumpy then it is the experiences themselves that are to blame. In short it’s not me it’s the others.
Health and Safety looms large again today with the dumbing down of the railway. As I passed Thorpe today I noticed the large “Access Point Information” sign. I remember talk of these going in due to accidents occurring because of poor information. Indeed a colleague and freind of mine, many years ago, was killed in just such an incident.
My friend had accessed the track at night to carry out some work. He was walking down the ‘Up’ line facing traffic although the line was blocked. He knew the ‘Down’ line was open so when he heard a horn he acknowledged without turning. The driver said he acknowledged every blast and was looking irritated at the frequency of them. He was on the wrong line and killed instantly.
But still I am not in favour of the dumbing down. It wouldn’t have helped my mate, using an access point in the middle of nowhere on a cold, wIndy winters night. When I worked on the track local knowledge was an asset. You learnt routes and access from your peers and it was lessons well learnt. I remember walking for hours around a farmers muddy field at 2 am in a storm before we realised we were the wrong side of the track. I’ve agreed a collection point then jumped over the wrong fence and surprised a herd of cows. More importantly I still remember which bakers will open their doors to hungry night workers at 4 am. I know where the old fellow lives that will furnish you with tea and stories all night when you pull a tedious shift.
The access point signs will enable even less experienced people to do the job. They will close down many of the long established access points and make the job less efficient. Will it be safer? I doubt it but it will let less experienced people be as safe. But the old boy at Trowse will miss the tea and chats at the next renewal and that’s a shame.