Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Velveeta sandwiches

In an entry a few weeks back, "Res ipsa loquitur," I'd piled on (along with a million other people) in opining about an ad agency intern's public nastygram to her former employer.

Today's post is triggered by two items in the same vein: 1) An article in the New York Times about the trend in students (or rather their parents) to pay for internships, "Unpaid Work, but They Pay for the Privilege," and 2) a LinkedIn discussion this week based on a letter titled "A beginning writer bitches about the publishing industry."

It's said that bad luck and celebrity deaths come in threes, so perhaps it stands to reason that stupidity also is happiest in a trio. Several common threads run through these three items, but to me the most important is this: a sense of entitlement. The world does not owe you a living, and it doesn't even have to be nice to you. As a wise old man once told a younger me, when I was whining about something or other, "Son, 'fair' is something you enter your prize pig in."

So, what the heck does "Velveeta sandwiches" have to do with anything, you're wondering? They were my standard lunch fare when I was an intern (at a New York Times-owned magazine, ironically enough) making $4 an hour, after earning my bachelor's degree but before being hired full time. And, no, I wouldn't trade that summer for the world.


  1. You're spot on there, Jake. Unless you start off shoveling the shit, you're not going to learn the ropes, appreciate the lessons or enjoy not having to shovel the dang stuff anymore. I'm not sure why people suddenly feel entitled to things they haven't earned. Are kids too spoiled these days...?

  2. Ah, you know me--I absolutely blame it on permissive parenting, i.e., the people who want to be "friends" with their kids rather than authority figures. Over the past 9 years of coaching high school rowing, I've seen an increase in disrespectful kids, and a lot more coddling by (and interference from) the parents. Some of them have never heard the word "no" before. It's not every kid or every parent, but a larger percentage.

  3. I'm a big believer (and hopefully will put it into practice!) in raising kids to be grateful and appreciate what people do for them. I can't think of a more terrible thing than for parents to spoil their kids to the point that they expect everything.

    What a wonderful, human feeling it is to know someone went out of their way for you. How special you feel when someone's gone the extra mile just to make you happy. What a terrible, lazy and selfish thing it is to deprive your children of that.

    (Sorry for the aside--it's one of my bugaboos!)