[OPINION] That Kid You Yelled At Knows Your Name

An alert — and perceptive — “06880” reader writes:

Westport has some absolute summer jewels. Camp Mahackeno, Longshore Sailing School, Parks and Recs programs, Earthplace…

These organizations are run by professionals. But they are staffed each summer by local kids.

Moms and dads: Were your ears burning last night? Those kids were talking about some of you.

I heard them. They were talking about you at my house.

You want your kids to have a great summer. You don’t have to yell at teenagers working hard at their summer job.

After one full day of summer, there are already stories of Westport parents behaving badly. My kid can’t get into a class because it’s full? I can’t get a refund for a program that started today and I just decided I don’t want? What do you mean, there are no more boats?

And on and on and on. These calls are often followed by an expletive, then a dial tone.

Westport is a small town. It’s a community. When you call one of these summer institutions to register for or reserve something, or inquire or cancel, the kids know who you are.

And when you verbally abuse them, they talk about it. With their friends, and their own parents.

I know 2020 was rough. Everyone is excited about 2021; there’s plenty of pent- up energy.

But it was also a rough year for that high school kid on the other end of the phone. So before you call her a “bitch” for not refunding your money for a program with a waiting list that already started, or scream that his boss will hear that he didn’t give you a kayak: Remember, we’re all in this together.

And that those kids mentioned you last night. By name.

17 responses to “[OPINION] That Kid You Yelled At Knows Your Name

  1. Marion V Kelly

    Thank you for bringing this ugly situation to light. As a mature woman, I’m often left stunned and speechless when I encounter these entitled people in the grocery store, on our roads, in our parking lots and at our sports facilities. What a sad situation for our sweet and enthusiastic student workers who observe adult behavior as they begin to form their own sense of civility and mindfulness.
    I hope this post lands on the ears of the offenders but I doubt they will see themselves as the intended audience.

  2. Thank you Dan for posting. The kids working at the beach endure harassment daily from people who are confused about beach parking or angry at the cost of entry without a beach sticker.

  3. Many years ago my wife put it to me this way- don’t forget when you call any business the person that answers the phone came to work today because they needed a job. Most likely they have been told and given rules what they can say and what they can do for you. They are not in charge of the company they are just people. Be Nice, Be Patient, Be Kind and they will help the best they are able.

  4. The more things change…. Five decades ago I experienced the same type of behavior when I had a summer job working for Parks & Rec—first at the gatehouse to the pool and tennis courts at Longshore in 1970 and then in subsequent years at the tennis courts themselves (and I worked mostly at the Longshore pro shop).

    For example, I still have vivid memories of the first day of the summer season—which might have been mid-May—in 1971 or 1972—when tennis passes were required at the Staples courts and I showed up to check for those passes and collect guest fees from those who hadn’t obtained them.

    Announcements about the opening date and the requirement of the passes were publicized in the local newspapers and by other means.

    The resistance from the players was mind-boggling. I heard more than a few expletives as a number of players refused to pay and then refused to leave the courts.

    So, I did as I was instructed: I informed the players that if they didn’t vacate the courts immediately, I would call the police (which meant in those pre-cell days having to walk to a nearby pay phone). I heard a few more expletives and it was only when I started heading for the pay phone that players cleared out and drove off quickly.

    • I guess if it happened 50 years ago, that type of behavior has now been “grandfathered” in.

    • Glad you posted that Fred – so often I hear about how “THIS sort of thing never happened in the old days around Town / people are so much more entitled these days” – but when it comes to obnoxious behavior directed towards the cashier / waiter / busboy / referee / rec worker / lawn crew / etc. by Westport parents, those of us who held these jobs ourselves know this is nothing new – seems treating people with respect never has had anything to do with how much money you have.

      And I still remember the names too 🙂

  5. I’ve noticed an uptick in bad, hostile behavior since things have reopened. This is counterintuitive to me, since we should be joyful for freedom regained.

    This entitled, insensitive boorishness obviously goes back further.

  6. I’m fairly new to town, having moved here from Litchfield County about three years ago. Almost immediately I noticed certain examples of entitlement, aggressiveness and a general lack of civility that seemed more in line with my native NYC (circa 1970’s) than my more genteel adopted state of Connecticut. A bumper sticker I noticed in the library parking lot a while back summed it up quite well: “You don’t have to be rude to live in Westport.”

  7. I noticed that todays young adults are far more polite than us youngsters decades ago.

    • Great point, Kevin. I see it among teenagers too. For example, they ALWAYS thank me and our coaching staff after every soccer practice. I would never have thought to do that when I was a player.

      One pet peeve, however: I dislike the response to my “thank you,” which has now become “no problem.” I much prefer the old-fashioned “you’re welcome.”

  8. Tom Duquette, SHS '75

    Ha, ha, I’m with Fred Cantor. After leaving the army and while in college in the very early 80’s during the summers I worked for Parks & Rec as a gate guard at Compo and Old Mill and nights one summer at Longshore patrolling the golf course and marina.

    We were routinely hassled and threatened by visitors who didn’t have a beach emblem or didn’t want to pay the out of town fee (lots of NY license plates on these cars), or objected to my interrupting their intimate escapades on the putting greens.

    Back then we had police style blue shirts complete with a real badge and sleeve patch like the WPD wore, even then people were disrespectful so I can’t imagine doing the job in an ‘official’ polo shirt. Sadly this sort of behavior is nothing new.

  9. Shannon McArthur

    I love this post and am glad that the author put it out there. Entitled behavior like this extends well beyond summer activities. Ask anyone who works in the service industry in Westport. Any service. It always amazes me when people think that the rules don’t apply to them, or that they will get their way by treating others like the dirt beneath their shoes.
    But, like the author of this post says, the people who you verbally abuse are talking about you, with each other, their families and friends, and they mention you by name.

  10. James Waldron

    These people aren’t parents. They’re bullies. I’m not quite sure why this is even news? Long after the lore of the Staples HS grads Golden Days are gone, this is the ‘new’ Westport ilk.

    I do like the recent 06880, ‘anonymous’ contributions however. It gives 06880 more of a, ‘TMZ’ feel. Perhaps more, ‘TMZ’, less, P&Z going forward?

  11. The rudeness highlighted in today’s post may be pandemic-related in 2021, but it is nothing new. Our daughter, a Staples student, was a Mahackano camp counselor who worked hard to help and guide the kids but suffered repeated public criticism, mocking and belittlement from one camper’s mother. We never learned what caused this woman to target and bully our daughter but when we explored going to her house to find out, we were asked to stand down because our daughter feared what people would think. Ultimately, she lost her job because of this woman.
    Kids are sensitive and they often don’t quickly get over such unfairness. Now, 25 years later, our daughter would tell you in an instant the name of this heartless bullying woman. As her parents, we also never forgot this painful episode we helped navigate, or the name of the person who caused it.
    Thank you for this opportunity to remind grown-ups that they are not gods, they’re not the supervisors of other peoples’ kids, especially the kids who are trying to be part of the world we all live in. Our society has become much too “entitled” – selfish is the word we learned when we were kids ourselves. As the writer notes, know that your boorish and shameful behavior is not unnoticed, nor is it forgotten.

  12. I was called an idiot by a customer on my very first day of work as a bus boy at the Carriage House restaurant in 1979. That’s right…42 years ago, and I still remember it well!

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