Memo to Millennials: Corporate America doesn’t want to have a “dialogue” about your “concerns.” Being an employee is not like being a college student. Your boss isn’t there to give you a cuddle and establish a committee to change his ways for you.
Your employers can and will fire you for making them look bad. This is as it must be.
A 25-year-old San Francisco Yelp employee named Talia Jane didn’t like the salary she was offered at the groovy tech company Yelp. So did she decline the job offer and take her skill set to a higher bidder? No, she accepted the gig, then publicly whined about her salary. In an open letter. To her CEO. Whom she called out by name.
Yelp fired her within two hours, which tells you that even companies with cute names protect their interests as ruthlessly as your average ill-tempered Gila monster.
Jane said she was getting 12 bucks an hour, which isn’t enough to eat. “I haven’t bought groceries since I started this job,” she said, having been living on one bag of rice. She spends 80 percent of her wages on rent, which is $1,245 a month. (She apparently has no roommate.) Also, she has a home Internet connection, which no one in the world had until about 20 years ago, not to mention a car. But she’s considering getting rid of the former, which she bought with intent to pursue some freelancing gigs. Now she claims to be “too stressed” to do side work.
There’s a clue about the difference between actual suffering and the pretend kind known as “reality out of kilter with sense of entitlement.”
No one who is actually starving would turn down work. This is because working beats starving. Picture George Orwell’s miserable coal miners in “The Road to Wigan Pier.” Did any of them say, “Sorry, luv, can’t handle work today. Too stressed!”? Jane’s Instagram photos of her snacking habits (prosciutto, etc.) also undercut her starvation claims.
Guidelines for the starving: Instagram less; work more. Get a second job, Talia. Get a roommate. Get several. Get rid of your car. This is how everyone your age in New York has been living for generations.
Throughout the 2,000-word piece, Talia sounds the classic Millennial whine: Why isn’t the world helping me more? (Though the world does more for her than it does for most: She set up a GoFundMe account that has brought in over $1,800.) Talia’s problems have nothing to do with Yelp and everything to do with Talia.
“I left college, having majored in English literature, with a dream to work in media,” Talia wrote.
Gosh, three mistakes in a row, there, Talia! You obviously should never have left campus if you’re determined to be treated forever like a delicate little bunny in a padded cage, with someone coming to change the pellets in your feeding bowl.
Majoring in English? I’ve been there. Got turned down for my first credit card. By Citibank, which sent me a rejection letter citing my “field of study.” I reapplied, changing my entry for “major” to “business.” Which not only wasn’t my field but wasn’t even a field of study offered by my school. But it worked, providing a valuable educational experience: an impromptu seminar in the value of bullshit.
Next lifetime, Talia, try majoring in petroleum engineering or supply-chain management. These fields teach what are known as “skills” (=demand, =$$$). Having a take on Joan Didion is more of what you might call a “hobby” (=love, =unpaid).
“And a dream to work in media.” Talia, everyone wants to work in media. Unfortunately for you, that includes those of us who are already working in media. We aren’t giving up our spots. You know why? Working in the media is super fun! We do stuff the normals only wish they could do, plus we get paid for it!
Sure, Talia, you and your generation can replace us. You already are replacing us. There’s a kid standing next to my desk right now. He’s 23, he’s very nice, he went to Bowdoin, his name is Tyler. He’s pretending to check Yik Yak, but really he’s just waiting for 25 years of General Tso’s chicken to realize their destiny and seal up my arteries like the boulder rolling in front of the exit in “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” My seat will still be warm when he takes it.
Or so he hopes! Say my arteries continue to flow like the mighty Niagara and I don’t vacate my seat. Since you and Tyler don’t know anything, the main thing you have to offer employers is low price.
Tyler’s OK. He’s got a trust fund. Do you? If not, don’t become an actor. Don’t become a poet. Don’t become a conceptual performance artist. Don’t work in media. You can’t afford to follow your dreams if everyone’s idea of a “dream” involves being OK with being paid in coolness instead of dollars.