December 08, 2018
Every once in a while, Saturday Night Live (SNL) does a skit that just nails it; this is one of them.
I still remember after college, I was going nuts trying to find a job, and my parents thought I was sort of crazy. I was fresh out from the computer engineering pressure-cooker, fighting my way through graph searches and bridge-and-torch problems for programming interviews, and they seemed so damn nonchalant about the whole thing.
In part because they never had the opportunities I did, as a graduate of a world-renowned engineering school; less money, and prestige, sure, but also much less stress, or competition, just to get your foot in the door.
But I can't help thinking of Parrot Head Boomer from the video. Every time I go back to Chicago, it's striking how easy everything seems: my aunt has two houses and an iPhone, despite not working in almost 20 years. She's married to a mail carrier who's about to retire on a full pension, on top of Social Security—while it lasts—even as Trump's tax cuts, who mind you, they both support—have given us the largest peacetime deficits ever. Meanwhile, Illinois is on the brink of collapse, I'm slogging through a few median income jobs' worth of student debt with my wife, my condo association is broke, and I'm paying five figures/year in property tax on a 1200 square foot place, for potholed roads and dysfunctional schools, while I watch the unfunded pension obligations stack up.
Meanwhile, the mid-20s people I work with, not the "almost X-er" elder Millennials like me, but the ones born in the 90s, are the most strait-laced, nose-to-the-grindstone people I know. The Economist agrees; maybe they think I'm like my parents?