As I had mentioned recently, I was stuck doing mandatory Corporate and OSHA Safety Training at my job this last weekend. Despite my complaints on Twitter, it was actually an interesting moment to observe and see just about everyone who works within our small organization. So I thought that I would take the time to give it another shot at telling a story, since the last piece had been so well received. As I’ve mentioned, I work for a small transit group, and I’ll leave it at that. All our drivers are mainly boomer retirees, social security recipients, and that one late thirty something that makes me wonder what kind of choices in life he made. It of course began with mandatory introductions, and ones that we didn’t even have to give ourselves. It was a roll call of sorts wherein no one said a word but simply stood up. An odd sort of deal, but I suppose skipping the niceties since we’re all here on a Saturday was probably the gentle mercy we could count on as we got through the day.
Of course, we’re all here on a Saturday, let’s just go ahead and get it over with was my initial line of thinking. Yet, we’re stuck here for at least four hours if not more (it was more) my mind wandered to make the most of it. Here I was, the only person in this entire organization under thirty. Gives one a chance to observe very real boomers, not just the phrase and lingo we use to call anyone over thirty, or really just anyone older than us. Odd how such a term for a generation that is slowly now dying out has been rebirthed from its generational constraints to a world of socio-political linguistics. Although with someone who does have baby boomer family members, I wonder that will be still be true once they’re long gone from the cultural memory. Perhaps someone 100 years from now will look up the swanky words of the 2020s like we did of the 1920s and try and bring back “boomer” into vogue from the archives of digital esotericism.
As I’ve mentioned before, living out in a much more rural and smaller part of the country, the stereotype did bleed through a little of what you’d expect for such a crowd. Older men, most of them somewhat overweight, others rail-thin, wearing stereotypical Trucker Stop Conservative T-Shirts, adorned with dark blues and blacks with patriotic slogans and other sorts of what I could only call biker gang style adornments. Although, if I’m being honest I can’t blame them for love of one’s country or ideals, they grew up in a world vastly different than the one I’ve inherited from them. When it comes to the issue of screaming incessantly, “I hate boomers” as I am surrounded by them like the I hate the antichrist meme, I can’t help but think of the trope that you see in villain monologues; “we’re not so different, you and I.” Yes, they did certainly live in much better social and cultural traditions than we do now. I won’t dispute the role that came in allowing their elites of the day to put us on the track we are now. Yet, I can’t help but see so much of millennial and zoomer attitudes imbued within ourselves from them as well. We rage with quote tweets, replies, and tweeting into the void, just as they yelled at their newspapers, radio stations, and television sets. We enjoy our favorite personalities and engage in the parasocial with our favorite accounts and content creators just as they do and have done with people like Rush Limbaugh or Jim Bakker. These may seem superficial but I do think in some behavioral context that it runs deep within the American culture that has now permeated well into the post-war generations.
I didn’t expect to take in the generational observations during this time, but it couldn’t help but stick out like a sore thumb. Aside from the younger man in mid thirties, there was at the very least a 30 year age gap with most of the drivers. Hell, there’s at least a 25 year age gap or so with myself and everyone in the office. Depending on your generational classification (I’m 26) it makes it a very odd place to be in, at least in relation to the others. Or so I thought initially. They’re more “with the times” than one might initially realize. For instance my manager and co-workers whom I directly interact with, most of them have a Tik-Tok account to watch videos, mainly for comedians or short clips things that amuse them. Don’t we do the same with our interests? Although, I would hope, not on that awful app.
Pattern Recognition Strikes Again
As we were rushing quickly through the local training for our facilities and knowing where the fire exits are and the rest, things went to the corporate training that we are required to take next. For me, the internet right wing brain turned on like a pavolvian response in the same way one might if they saw a statistic that had 13% in there somewhere. This is definitely a product of being on the internet too much, or maybe it’s me following Steve Sailer on Twitter? Either which way, my brain went loose on watching numerous videos talking about safe driving distances, and numerous errors “operators” which I suppose is a nicer way of just being called a bus driver, causing collisions or not being attentive at the wheel. A stunning amount of diversity on display, and even when blurred around the face the rest of it all gave it away with just who the person was. All while this short bald white guy with the scuffiest mic imaginable is commenting on how to be a better operator. I cannot make this up. I have to do this training annually and I work in the office. There’s just something about this that I’m watching through attentively, not because I am learning something, but because my politically addled brain is just enjoying the pattern recognition.
Perhaps this was the most humorous highlight of the day, one of which almost made me forgive that I was there from 8 AM until 1:30 in the afternoon. To be honest, when the idea came for writing this little piece I had thought that this would have had a much bigger focus but it slowly found its way fading to the back as some kind of humorous anecdote more than anything else.
How much of this is relevant, again?
Despite the tech issues of waiting on videos or slides to load, lunch being delayed, the majority of this felt like a waste of common sense outside of the local; the locks for drivers, leaks, chemical list document in case of injury, things that would directly affect us and our day to day operations. It is not like OSHA or even what’s done at the corporate level felt like it covered truly anything, and what was done by those that own us felt more like a poorly done piece of product placement advertising than anything else. Even then, the Intel Corporation owns the product, it’s not like it is from an independent/small business or anything but I suppose that comes with a large transit organization.
Risk aversion writ large feels like a great inhibition from the common sense and daring men once had in the past. Someone look at the famous image that I have below, and comment if you can tell me just how many OSHA violations there are.
Seriously, I’m curious.
Risk aversion is the logical conclusion to the old JS Mill idea of the Harm Principle. Or at least that’s what it appears to be that way, I’m not the political theorist, but a mere observer no matter how much I read. We are both legally repressed by the chance to once again create great things, but we are also not the same caliber of men that once were those day to day joe with their coffee and lunches working on the great towers of industry and Babylon of the 20th century. And now our urban sprawl no longer reaches upward on time and on budget, but now are left muddled by the politics and bureaucracy of men and women with no real understanding of how things got done.
There is corruption, just as there was construction over a century ago in the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad. But we no longer have the titans and swindlers of Thomas C. Durant, now it is some appropriating committee or some hapless twitter activist sitting on some city council. Even our 21st Century Robber Barons, like that Elon Musk cannot even build a tunnel, whilst tweeting away to hide bad news on his companies or using his meme status to manipulate the market for his own personal wealth. As my father once said, “no one gets wealthy ethically.”
But the day finally came to an end with gift cards and a crowd of boomers lost in the cigarette smoke in the parking lot, as the few millennials and gen X’ers drove off in their cars for the rest of their Saturday afternoon. I for one stayed in town, and waited until evening Vespers service.
The next time you’re stuck in one of these, take the opportunity to look around. Odds are you won’t learn from the material, but you will learn the state of your cohorts and what’s been lost as a people.
And if you want more thinking, well…