Moved Mountains

Banner - Mt Trio, Stirling Range National Park, Western Australia - (c) 2007

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Equity - Give Young People a Go!

It really, really pisses me off when I experience first hand or hear stories of young people being given a hard time simply because they are young people.

A 19 year old friend of mine told me today of an experience he had at a job placement agency yesterday. He was essentially called a liar and given the brush off by the customer "service" person responsible for "serving" him. When he told her that he knew someone who worked at the plant and gave the name of the same person, she proceeded to tell him that no such person worked there and then didn't follow any of the process, my young mate had been told was supposed to be followed, in assessing his suitability for a job. She simply took his name (not his phone number) and said they would "be in touch" on the off chance something came up!

Thankfully, the person he knows at the plant is my wife and she is going to follow this up with the manager responsible for work placement who will hopefully follow it up with the placement agency and he will get a fair go at the job.

The thing is this kind of thing happens everyday. People in positions of authority (whether real or imagined) choose to lord it over young people just because they can.

A couple of years ago I stood and listened to a customer service officer at the South West College of TAFE lecture a young person I had taken in to enrol in a TAFE course, on his enrolment. The guy assumed the young bloke would be unsuitable for the course simply based on how he looked, and proceeded to tell him this. After a few minutes of listening to him berate the young bloke for no reason at all, I asked him if the enrolment form was filled in correctly and if he was the person who was responsible for receiving it. He replied that it was and that he was the man. I then asked him why he simply couldn't have just accepted it without giving the completely unnecessary 5 minute lecture. He took the form and didn't reply. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the application form or the way in which the kid was enrolling.

It had taken me 3 weeks to convince the same kid to front up and put his application in. He had very low self confidence and was sure his application wouldn't be accepted. Had he been on his own he would have probably lasted 10 seconds before telling the bloke "where to go" and walking out without putting his paperwork in. Ironically (two fingers to the bloke behind the counter), in the end he was accepted into a pre-apprenticeship course in carpentry.

Another friend recounted a story of walking into a church as a young person seeking information on God and being told by the pastor to leave and only come back when he was dressed appropriately for the "house of God". He was wearing a tee shirt featuring a heavy metal motif. Thankfully he was smart enough to realise the pastor didn't really have a handle on God and my mate encountered God elsewhere and now is a follower of Jesus.

My final example actually happened to my wife, who is quite small (and cute!) last year. We were both out doing a letter box drop around Binningup just on sunset when a dog started barking at her as she dropped a flyer in a letter box. Lyss had a beanie on and a jacket and it was getting dark. The home owner came out to see what was going on with his dog and saw Lyss and mistook her for a young boy. He called out aggressively "hey little bloke, what are you doing? Did you think you could stir up my dog hey!" He got a bit of a surprise when Lyss turned around and told him she wasn't a "little bloke" but a 30 something lady and that the problem was his dog!

These are by no means isolated incidents. It's real easy for all of us to bemoan the lack of respect young people seem to have for authority or for their elders. But at the end of the day what goes around comes around (Jesus referred to it as "reaping what you sew").

So here's my "pay it forward" challenge for the week. The next time you're faced with a young person, no matter how surly or grotty or standoffish they appear, why not take the time to consciously treat them with respect and dignity and see what happens? At the very least, I know that they will notice it, and they will be grateful for it, even if they don't show it outwardly.

Pic by Binababy12 -

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yeah, what he said!!! Do people understand the concept of 'Pay it Forward?' Thats sowing and reaping too Me thinks?!?!?
Super Shane.