“A sense of entitlement” – this phrase seems to pop up with great regularity lately, and there are many examples of people to whom it applies. It seems a whole subculture of people were raised with expectations and demands that far exceed their importance in life. They treat others with disdain; they make demands, give very little of themselves and have few manners.
For example we were out dining a few weeks ago and people we knew came into the restaurant. We said hello and they proceeded to their own table. What followed was almost shocking, marked by our acquaintances’ high-handed behaviour with the serving personnel.
Several times these people recalled the server to the table to take away a piece of cutlery or a cup that seemed to have a mark on it or to take plates back to the kitchen for no apparent reason. We heard it all from where we were sitting.
This was not fine dining by any stretch but a modest, local diner which enjoys a great reputation. The server patiently returned over and over again to their table; I was prompted to remark on the server’s patient, good manners.
I had several times eaten in the kitchen of the diners’ parents. I remembered eating off cheap plates, and that the mother had never taken the plastic covers off her sofas, and yet this young couple were acting as if they were “to the manor born” and not into an ordinary, everyday home like the rest of us.
I’ll acknowledge this pair were very successful in their careers, but that could never justify their rude and dismissive behavior toward the server in this eating place.
A couple we know have a daughter of marriageable age, and they despair of her ever meeting anyone to fulfill all her requirements. She has very lofty expectations, but I fear there is something missing in her own person. She lacks the humanity that expresses itself in humility and respect for others; she lacks a good sense of humour with regard to herself and others, as well as a welcoming nature that is open and honest.
I don’t know how she became the person she is today. She has been on the receiving end of every kindness her entire life but gives back so little to others. I will be following her life with some interest over the period ahead.
My own parents were hard working, ordinary people but they were respected for their honesty and work ethic. They worked together in their restaurant for over 15 years. I never forget what my roots are and I’m proud we were taught at home to respect others and always be well-mannered.
I have met many people who have been too eager to cast off the relics of their home upbringing and aggrandize themselves. Life, though, has a funny way of turning the tables on you, just when you think you have it all scoped out. By keeping your history in the forefront, you not only honour it but benefit from the perspective it gives you.
I too have a sense of entitlement, and it pushes me to relish the simple things in life and to value highly the friendships I have formed. Surely this is life’s reward as the years go by.
Jim Pappas is a CJNU board member.