I work in a federal agency with about 1,000 employees, give or take. My little brain can’t possibly remember 1,000 names. Fortunately, I work in a smaller group that has about 100 people, most of whom are now on a single floor of our building. I know a lot of those people: everyone in my division, everyone in senior management, and pretty much everyone over 40 years old in the other divisions. Call it 60 people I know by name. When we meet in the hallway, I say hello to them, they say hello back.
Of the people I don’t really know – maybe I’ve seen them around, maybe they were recently hired – I still say hello in the hallway, but most of them say nothing in return. Nada. They don’t acknowledge my existence. When this happens, I’m sorely tempted to ask to see the person’s identification. “Say, I haven’t seen you before. Do you work here? Could I see an ID?”
The thing about it is that almost everyone who refuses to say hello is under 35, maybe even under 30. Is this a generational issue? Do young people not bother to acknowledge the existence of (a) colleagues or (b) older colleagues? (A friend of mine of similar age says that the kids know we’re has-beens and see no percentage in talking to us. Cold, but perhaps right.) What gives, kids? Have video games robbed today’s youth of social graces?
While I’m on the subject of antisocial behavior, here’s a picture of one of our two refrigerators, taken at 7:30 a.m., when almost no one is in the office. Somewhere around 50 people need to share this thing. What do we see? A pitcher of water, a big orange juice container, a bottle of water, and some large object wrapped in a plastic bag, all taking up space on the top shelf. Another big bag o’ stuff on the bottom shelf, sharing space with a container of Greek yogurt and several containers of berries on the right. The bottom drawer is also filled. The door has a blue Gatorade bottle, several bottles of salad dressing, and several containers of milk (some are out of the frame), with a big ol’ bottle of milk lying down on its side on the lower shelf of the door. Egads, people! This stuff sits there for days. Play nicely, children.