by Dan Blankenship
© 2008 Dan Blankenship
The year is 1984. The place is a fancy restaurant in Highland, Indiana. The victims are two teenagers out for a nice dinner. We, my girlfriend and I, walked into the restaurant with all the intentions of having a great time. The host greeted us as if we were guests at a fancy establishment in Beverly Hills. I pulled out the chair for my stunning date, and we began searching the menus for appealing entrťes. The candle lit tables seemed to be the only real light in the place, making for a very romantic setting.
After we had decided on what we would like to order, we noticed the waitress walk by our table several times. She made glances in our direction, but never stopped to ask us if we were ready to order. After ten minutes had passed, we noticed a middle-aged couple taking their seats at the table across from us. A few minutes after that, the waitress walked by again, glancing our direction for the third time, then turning to ask the other couple and asking if they were ready to order. My date and I were shocked by such obvious ageism. Teens wonít tip as well. Teens leave tables a mess. Young people are a nuisance and second class citizens.
We left the restaurant without ordering. Some have told me that I should have spoken up, calling the restaurant manager and complaining. But Iíve done something even better. Iíve refused to shop anywhere where I encounter age discrimination, and I let my friends know which places Iím currently boycotting.
A car dealership, ironically in the same town (merely coincidence, I believe), offered up the same negative experience when I went in to buy a brand new Geo Metro. I walked into the dealership with a moneybag. I planned on buying the car with cash. Excited at having saved enough money to purchase a new vehicle without a loan, I had a bounce in my step and a gleam in my eye! A guy in his early twenties buying a brand new car with cash was a special event. I was destined to have my bubble burst.
I waited five minutes for anyone to even acknowledge that I had entered the car dealership, and then I all I got was a nod as a salesman walked by and approached a middle-aged couple (I was beginning to see a trend) who walked in after me and asked them if he could help them. Twenty minutes later, I walked out of the dealership still carrying more than 8,000 dollars in that moneybag. Twenty-somethings wonít buy a car today. Seventeen years later, no matter how good the sale at this particular lot, I have never even thought about purchasing a car there.
I will always boycott any place who believes they can qualify customers based on age. A personís character cannot be measured by the number of years theyíve been walking the planet. Businesses need to do more to educate their employees on how to treat teens with the same respect they treat the rest of their customers. Spend your money and your time in places that treat all people with the respect they deserve.
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I very much agree. I have seen the same thing in my own life many times. Thank you for writing about it. This is a subject that is overlooked way too often.