It’s dangerous to generalize about a generation but I believe the Millennials have gotten a bad rap. They are stereotyped as narcissistic, overly sensitive and addicted to technology. There’s a viciously funny video mocking Millennials, in which the Millennial International Charity is seeking sponsors for 10,000 Millennials for only $2,900 per month. 

Why so much? According to the video, Millennials have expenses like yoga, beard wax and pet food for their rescue dog. The problem is they have useless degrees, no work ethic, no job and no discernible skills. This is true of some Millennials. 

I paid a Millennial to go downtown to obtain some court records. He came back empty-handed. The sheer size of the Daley Center had intimidated him so much, he couldn’t face going to the Clerk’s Office to get the records. I had another intern who drove to the far north suburbs and returned with nothing accomplished.

He said he had found the witness’ mailbox but for some reason couldn’t find his house, which must have been nearby. He didn’t leave a business card in the mailbox because it’s against the law. I decided not to send him out anymore. One day, he was sitting around the office so long, he charged me for overtime. 

I also know four Millennials who have a better work ethic than I do. Three own houses and two are great parents. However, they are still burdened by student loans and pay the equivalent of a mortgage payment each month toward the loans, because, like most Millennials, they were dealt a bad hand. Thanks to skyrocketing tuition, Millennials owe an average of $30,000 in student loans. 

Due to their inability to find good-paying jobs, or one in their field of education, 30 percent of them are living in their parents’ home. That’s over 21 million, who may be living in the basement, or holding down couch springs. As Boomers, we may have started out broke, but at least we weren’t in debt. A 28 year-old Boomer could expect to own a home and have kids. The 28-year-old Millennial lacks the financial stability to do either.

As columnist Charles J. Johnson said, he has lived his entire life with the U.S. at war, (including a war on drugs), with the economy debt-laden, with government dysfunction a given. He was told there was another time when factory jobs paid enough for workers to send their kids to college. These same employers paid for health insurance and pensions.

He heard that there was a time when Congress was a check on corporate greed. That the government safeguarded us from harmful products. This was back when a 26-year-old could buy a house and a mass murder wasn’t a monthly occurrence. It’s no wonder many Millennials don’t show loyalty to an employer, or have faith in government. In their eyes, the social contract has been broken for most of their lives.

Still, I admire the values of many Millennials. They tend to be thrifty, non-materialistic and mindful of the environment. They value a happy workplace over a larger paycheck. They don’t share many of the prejudices of previous generations. They’re seeking a balance between work and creative pursuits.  

I know Millennials are portrayed as lazy, Uber-riding, tofu-loving losers. If they are, Boomers are partly to blame for showering them with praise and handing out participation trophies. However, despite the coddled childhoods and the bad hand they were dealt as young adults, there are Millennials who get up early, work long hours and care about their communities. 

I even know one who answers her phone. 

John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.