Generation Eric

It’s alarming to consider that people of my generation — Generation Eric, as it’s called — are expected to be in charge of things. I look at myself and my friends, and I think: Wow. Most of these people are addicted to Fox’s “American Idol.” And we’re running the world now? We can barely even govern OURSELVES, let alone other people.

For example, a few weeks ago, someone at the office brought in one of those huge tubs of tiny powdered doughnuts from Sam’s Club. So despite my goal of losing weight so I can fit into my pants again and stop walking around in a sari, I felt obligated to eat 75,000 tiny powdered doughnuts. Why? Because they were there.

My friend Tanny (names have been changed) can relate. Whenever we leave a restaurant that has free mints by the door, he takes as many as he can grab in both hands. (He generally over-pays the check to compensate for this. No, he doesn’t, but he should.) Then, over the course of the evening, he eats the mints. All of them. Even if he goes into convulsions from the mintiness, he will continue reaching into his pocket to pull out more free mints. Why? Because they’re there. I am told he exhibits the same behavior in regards to candy corn, eating it “until my eyes become candy corns, and then I eat my eyes,” he told me.

I have the same problem of over-indulgence when it comes to sleep. I went through a phase where I would always hit the snooze button on my alarm, often several times in a row, resulting in my getting out of bed as much as an hour later than I had meant to. To trick myself into getting up on the first alarm, I started putting the alarm clock on the other side of the room. If I actually have to leave the warm, womb-like environment of the blanket and walk several steps, surely that will wake me up enough that I won’t fall back into bed, I reasoned.

Apparently, I didn’t realize who I was dealing with. I’m not going to be fooled by anyone, and certainly not by the likes of me! Yes, I’ll get out of bed and walk across the room … and then I’ll hit the snooze button and go back and get some more sleep! I’ll show me.

I eventually determined that I could put the alarm clock up the street and down a dog’s throat, and I would still hit the snooze button, wipe the dog slobber off my arm, and go back to bed. It has taken an extraordinary measure of self-control (extraordinary for me, anyway) to become a grown-up and get up when I’m supposed to.

And then there’s money. Finances are probably the area in which my generation has best demonstrated its worthlessness. Young people were behind the dot-com craze, after all, which yielded huge profits only for pornographers and bankruptcy lawyers.

This penchant for financial irresponsibility hit home a few months ago, when I had to take an unplanned trip to Portland, Ore. (Portland is a great city, by the way, and the only downside to visiting it is that the locals never stop jabbering about how great it is.) When you give three weeks’ notice, you can get a plane ticket for $150 or so. When you give three days’ notice, they charge you $300, I guess because somehow it’s harder for the plane to fly when it has procrastinators on it.

Anyway, none of my credit cards had $300 left on it, and I certainly didn’t have that much in my checking account. So I called a few of my close friends to see if their credit cards had that much, and none of them did. Everyone was perfectly WILLING to spot me the money until payday — helpfulness is another hallmark of my generation — but no one had the means to actually do it.

Eventually, I persuaded the people at Visa to temporarily increase my credit limit, possibly because they believed there had been a death in my family and that’s why I had to buy the plane ticket. Whining and lying are two more things we’re good at, we young people. Get used to it, because we’re in charge now.

It took me FOREVER to write this column. Well, comparatively speaking, anyway. It sat, 60 percent finished, for about a month before I finally worked in what eventually became the last four paragraphs (plus some other fine-tuning here and there). The first paragraph was a late addition, too, and of course introducing the "generation" thing meant making changes elsewhere in the column. In other words, this was a pain to write, and I was glad to finally have it finished.