Only on Vashon-The Weekly Rundown 11/19/2023

We start the week with reefer madness.

Never before in the history of humanity has a teen burnt a pizza. Clearly there is something wrong with today’s youth.  When I was  young I did everything perfectly and correctly without ever making a mistake. 

What is wrong with today’s kids? After eight hours of school and 3 hours on the job, they answer questions slowly and burn food. Can you believe it?

A professional chimes in with their informed opinion: “As a leadership and organizational development advisor, I have the opportunity to see the inner workings and management styles of many types of organizations. Despite the variety I see, I find it fascinating that the overall attitude, productivity and level of customer service so consistently reflects the management style of a department, or even the entire organization.”

So the managers are high, not the workers.

Others disagree with the expert. It’s not the grownups who are the problem, it’s the kids, period end of story.  One person says, “bs, management sets the tempo. But there’s no way in hell are managers able to completely control teenagers. The whole reason parents send them off hoping someone else can steer them closer to functionality.”

I like the idea that if a parent gives up on trying to control their obstinate teen, they send them off to work at a pizza shop where their twenty-year-old shift manager will whip them into shape. 

Some people have sympathy for kids who smoke weed. One islander says, “Can you imagine growing up in a world that was doomed by prior generations, unable to buy a house or get ahead? And a reasonable escape from that torment was legal? Yeah…that.”  They add, “I’d also venture that if teens had a bigger say in the world they are inheriting they might smoke less weed and engage more. (Source: I was a teen once.)”

Another person adds, “Additionally, so many jobs require an advanced degree that they’ll have to go into debt to receive, just for the “privilege” of being able to work a low paying entry level job. If I were a teen in today’s world, I’d be getting high and learning to fix toilets. (In fact, I sometimes want to be doing that as a middle aged person.)”

I vaguely remember being a teen and  the concomitant experience of having huge feelings about how glaringly unfair and poorly run the world was, as well as constantly having those feelings invalidated. It sucked. 

Others say teens just don’t have the right guidance, One islander says, “Yeah it’s been AGES since I was a teenager, and these kids don’t even have Cheech and Chong to guide them, “

Others think it’s not weed or the despondency of living in a dying world, but rather smartphones that are ruining our children’s ability to properly labor in front of a wood-fired oven. One says, “I don’t think it’s weed; that has been part of island culture forever. I think it’s the smartphones. It’s a constant battle in our house. When a longitudinal study is finally conducted I suspect the effect of smartphones on adolescent cognitive development will be revealed as devastating.”

Another says it’s the pandemic. “Or maybe… it’s because they were stuck at home for many of their formative years and adjusting to “normal” life is a different experience for them than it was when you were a teenager.”

Others talk about how hiring teens has worked out well for them, and the teens just need a little guidance to know what to do. This is a lovely attitude that I wish my boss had when I was a highschooler working at the dry-cleaners. During the day, my manager and a retiree worked the shop, then they went home when my colleague and I got off the school bus and took over. The grownups often left pants with poo in them  in the bag for us teens to tag. They’d have scrabble games hidden behind the counter that they played all day while bags of untagged laundry piled up. Not that I’m still bitter. I actually liked the job a lot (except for the poo pants). The best thing was that if you found anything worth less than 5 dollars in a pocket of someone’s clothes, you could keep it. So we got loads of dollar bills, quarters, and the occasional half-smoked joint as ‘tips’ for our work. 

But back to Vashon. Some of us  laugh at the poster for being shocked that a Vashon teen would deign to get high. One long-time islander says, “Lmao this your first time? Vashon made High Times magazine in the early 90’s. Lol growing up here there wasn’t many houses that didn’t have a five gallon bucket growing a “tomato” plant in it lol and now it’s legal lol welcome to Vashon ‘keep it weird.’”

See? The kids are just ushering our beloved traditions into the next generation. 

But others are deeply upset by these blinking, pizza-burning teens. Someone goes so far as to say if you see a high teen, call the cops.

One person imagines this scenario: “I can hear the call to the police now- ‘I’d like to report that a teenager was cluelessly blinking at me, plus my pizza was burnt. I believe they were HIGH ON DEVIL’S LETTUCE! Please send someone out immediately.’”

So what conclusions do we finally draw about what is wrong with kids today? Is it drugs? Is it smartphones, which are worse than drugs? Is it losing formative years to a pandemic? Is it the inherent nature of youth to be a little awkward and make mistakes and not know how to do every task set before them?

Nah, it’s gotta be drugs.

Besides being mad at the youth of today, we are also mad at people who have their dogs off leash, presumably because the dog owners were too high to remember how to leash a dog. We have this post: 

Bold of you to assume I can read. I actually can’t. I just string letters together, and in a near cosmically unlikely probability, they form a series of meaningful words. Or maybe they don’t. I have no way of knowing. 

We all seem to agree that dogs should be leashed. One person says, “If my dog is on a leash (and she will be) and yours runs up to her, she will bite them hard in the face. Not my vet bill—yours.” They also add, “my dog goes for the eyes.  If she’s hurt though THEY’RE expected to pay. I can take them to Canine Court, held here, for their consequence and fees.” 

Wait, hold up, Canine Court? Like, a court for dogs where dogs are judge, jury, and, possibly, executioner? Does dog court uphold some sort of dog constitution, or is it more of a common law situation? 

We have posts like this one a few times a week in every Facebook group. So I beg you, please leash your dogs so people will complain about more interesting things, like teens smoking weed or new people moving to Vashon. 

We then have this question:

There are so many different gifs of hand-rasing that Vashonites use to represent themselves. These are my favorites. 

We have a few different reactions. First, some people are skeptical of why the question is being asked anonymously and assume it’s a scammer harvesting personal data. 

The second is to say,  “Define ‘grew up….’” And other variations on the idea that we were born here and lived here our whole lives, but  do not see ourselves as grown adults.  Or we accuse others of being immature. One says, “I think there may be some who were born and raised but refused to grow up! Ooops! Lol!”

The third is to post that we’re long-time islanders, and end up connecting with people who recognize our last names and say,  “your grandpa used to hang out with my dad.”

Finally, the last is to respond with a bit of snark from those of us who didn’t grow up here, but would like to be considered locals.  One person says, “Raise your great grandfather’s hand if you think you’re a local!”

One islander  responds to the comment with,  “which one? I have 3 great-grandfathers buried here. They’ve all been dead about 80 years.” Okay, none of them, because that’d involve a lot of digging. 

When someone accuses the commenter of using vitriol, they respond,  “I was born in Zambia and the ethos was: if you lived there for one day, you were a Zambian. I found it created more belonging and social cohesion than actively othering does. That said, I appreciate having roots, and honoring tradition. I respect the people who came before and built this island community to be what it is.”

And that, too, is my hope for Vashon. That we’ll all be accepted and loved, no matter how recently we moved here, or how much weed we smoked before burning your pizza. 

Anna Shomsky
Author: Anna Shomsky

I'm a former teacher and a data engineer living on Vashon Island. My writing has appeared in Five on the Fifth, Women on Writing and on the Post-Culture Podcast. I wrote and produced the radio show Whispers of Vashon for 101.9 KVSH. I’ve had short stories published in the anthologies Island Stories and Chicken Scratchings, as well as through the Open Space Literary Project.

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