By Andy Capp
I have a 14-year-old daughter. While some of you are rolling your eyes and nodding your head know-ingly, I have a few things to point out to you if you’re thinking that this is no big problem. First, you obviously don’t have a 14-year-old daughter. Second, I understand now that Linda Blair’s problem in The Exorcist was more puberty than possession—my daughter has similar mood swings hourly. Third, I am without a doubt the dumbest person in the known universe. Just ask… well, you know who.
I’m fairly certain that my parents secretly find this amusing, I know that my Father has been mumbling something about payback from the first day that I even mentioned that they were going to be Grandparents. I’m truly surprised by this reaction. I’ve always had the utmost respect for my parents, especially when I was a teenager. I can’t remember a time when I could have driven them crazy, other than those few dozen times I was out past curfew…in the same month. Oh, then there was that time I went sneaking out of the house and state to catch that Doobie Bros. concert they didn’t want me to go to. Okay, and MAYBE I was quick to loudly point out when I disagreed with them, but then they were wrong so much of the time back then. I’m so glad that they’ve wised up. How could they have gotten so cold as to find my daughter’s angst routine funny?
No respect, no respect at all. Not that I’m not used to the Dangerfield Syndrome. When I spent most of my days in a radio production room, I was continually stunned at how little respect salespeople had for the other staff members in general and me in particular. I can remember days when I would be yelling at them about bringing in that order WAY PAST deadline, that there was no way in hell I was going to get the spot done so it could run in the Morning Show. What was the first thing that they’d do? Go running to the GM like the spoiled brats they were, and whine about MY bad attitude! Why couldn’t they just respect that deadline and the fact that I was a creative genius that needed time to perfect my work? Because they didn’t recognize that genius. Sure, they SAID that the reason they didn’t take that ad out to the client was because they feared the client wouldn’t get the jokes, but the truth was that THEY didn’t get the jokes, and they didn’t respect my opinion enough to trust that it would be a huge ad for the business—what do salespeople know about what ads will be effective for a client anyway?! Bunch of leeches, lining their pockets with the fruits of MY talent and hard work! And they wondered why I had a bad attitude!
Ruth was the worst. She always wanted that spec ad finished yesterday, always demanded that any ad, no matter how complicated, be ready to run by the next stop set, and never, Never, NEVER said anything unless it was a negative. I grew not only to have zero respect for her, but to really hate her. She got to the point that she automatically went to the GM’s office with anything past deadline and had him bring it to me for her. Then that Wednesday came when the GM was golfing and she was forced to face me herself. It had already been a bad day with the other Salesbabies, and I was in no mood to deal with another one, much less the Queen. I saw in her eyes that she was begging for a fight when she burst through the door, and I was more than ready to give her one. “Don’t argue, just get it done, okay?” She said as she laid the copy in front of me. Wrong thing to say. I was tired, tired of being mistreated by jerks who didn’t give a rip about how I felt, tired of backing down countless times, tired of being told what to do and what not to do. I smiled, picked up the copy, tore it in half and sneered, “Over my dead body!” Ruth jerked as if I had slapped her. The color drained out of her face and her lip trembled and she started… crying? As she ran out of the prod room, I thought, “This is a new sneaky tactic.”
As it turns out it wasn’t sneaky, and it wasn’t a tactic. It was the reaction of a woman who had gotten a phone call 10 minutes earlier from a hospital in Florida, telling her that her father had passed away. By reflex this woman began to handle what duties she could before she had to go home and face her children with the fact that Grandpa was never coming back for a visit. She really had no choice but to take the ad to that nasty guy that did the production for the stations… maybe just once he would be nice and have a little respect. Leave it to that creep to be so heartless!
Respect is a two way street that we build a hell of a big median down the middle of. Them vs. us. You against me. He said, she said. We get so caught up in the differences that we forget how much alike we all are. Ruth has a 14-year-old daughter too, one who drives her up the wall as much as mine does me. Ruth also has a car payment like me, and a job that she tries to do her best at, the same as me. She also now has one less parent to tease her about being a parent herself, and she misses him as much as I would my father. Maybe if we all took a little time to look at how we are all related in a common cause, in a common life, we might actually start working together to fight the real enemy, lack of respect. Perhaps in the twilight of this century, when we’ve grown accustomed to demanding everything, we should try to gain our respect the old fashioned way…by earning it.