Dr. Richard Stride Commentary: Whatever Boomer! Is There a T-shirt for That?

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When I first heard “whatever boomer” from my millennial daughter, I was a bit taken aback. 

Once I settled down from my self-imposed indignation— which didn’t take long by the way — I surmised that “whatever boomer” is now the “eye rolling” of my generation or the “for crying out loud” of my mom’s generation. 

All three are expressions of exasperation. 

I also believe these generational expressions of exasperation are just ways to avoid letting not-so-nice expletives fly.

I could be wrong, but I think I’m right.   

What does it mean to be a boomer or a Gen Xer or a millennial? It simply means we all have values that are generational in nature.  Our generation often defines who we are and what we care about.  A simple answer to the, “who are we?” question is — we are our T-shirts. 

Permit me to explain. In other words, if you want to know who you are, or who someone else is, look at the T-shirts they wear. 

More importantly, look at what it says on the T-shirt. 

Me? I prefer to let my T-shirt speak for me. Others are waiting for someone to ask them about their T-shirt so they can explain why it’s important to care about Pocket Gophers, for example. 

T-shirts are like bumper stickers for the body — anything, and literally everything, is written on them.    

Our T-shirts also change over time. What’s important to us at 18 is different than what’s important to us at 50. 

Have you ever looked at your T-shirts and said to yourself, “I don’t feel like letting people know I think it's important to ‘Save the Whales,’ it’s more a ‘I’m only talking to my dog’ day?” 

Have you ever looked at someone’s T-shirt and said to yourself, “that person really cares about…”

Or, “that persons a real jerk.” 

T-shirts tell others what’s important to us, what causes we support, what we like, and even who we love.

T-shirts are the non-verbal windows into the souls of our personage. Just like the people that wear them, T-shirts can make us angry, they can make us laugh, they can make us cry, they can make us stop and think about what’s really important in life.    

Now here’s the cookies on the bottom shelf — if you want to know who someone is, pay attention to the T-shirts they wear. 

More importantly pay attention to what their T-shirt says. Look at what it says, but notice what it doesn’t say as well.

•••

Dr. Stride has been a practicing psychotherapist. He has worked in behavioral and forensic mental health for over 30 years as a counselor, clinical director and senior executive. He served eight years as a captain in the United States Army Reserve. He enjoys teaching, public speaking and prides himself on being a student of history. He is the current CEO of Cascade Community Healthcare. He can be reached at drstride@icloud.com. 

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Bill Serrahn

Some of the younger folks seem to blame boomers for their problems these days, but I think it's misplaced. First of all, we all didn't have Beaver Cleaver privileged lives.

I grew up on a small farm. We didn't get indoor plumbing, except for a cold water faucet until I was 10 or 11. Until then it was the outhouse, with the temp sometime well below zero, and wiping with pages from the Sears Roebuck catalog. Bathing was in a washtub on the kitchen floor on Saturday night. We got our telephone around that time - it was a party line - you had to listen for your ring to answer, but there were always people listening.

My dad couldn't afford and extra hand on our small farm, so he attached a block of wood to the tractor's clutch and put a broken spring under the seat and made me a tractor driver at 6 years old. My dad began suffering from mental illness when I was in the 5th grade and was mostly away in hospitals by the time I was 12. I went to work summers and weekends for the farmer up the road for $12 per week when I was 12. Additionally, I started working in a gas station when I was 14 and worked in stations throughout high school. I paid into social security from 14 to 70, so I'm not responsible if it's broke.

When I graduated high school, there was no money for college and I went to the city at 17 as an economic refugee and did a variety of jobs for low pay, but finally got a union job. That didn't last as I got greetings from Uncle Sam and was drafted into the army in 1968. I guess I was terrified enough from my friend's letters from Vietnam telling me he would never see him alive again, to enlist for 3 years in a non-combat MOS. I went to Vietnam anyway 1 year later and spent a year there and my remaining hitch in the Army.

When I came home from the Army, I took a job in an underground mine, and drilled and blasted rock for 2 years and drank my paycheck until I met my wife and we decided we could go to a 2 year college. We managed that by my G.I. Bill, some small grants, working part time, and some small school loans.

Good work wasn't easy to find when we got out of school and there were the gas shortages and recessions of the 70's. I think that I have been affected jobwise by 3 major recessions.

As far as the decisions made in the 60's and 70's and 80's, which affect us today, remember that our leaders were not boomers but the WWII generation - Nixon, Johnson, and Reagen.

But, all in all, I think I have lived in one of the greatest periods in history for common people in the United States. Our parents lived through the Great Depression, fought a World War, and wanted to come home and have a new prosperity and they did and they mostly gave their children a good life and a society of opportunity.

I know you young people are pissed off that you are paying for Social Security and Medicare for us and the funds are nearly depleted and you are concerned that there will be nothing for you when you are old. All I can say is that I paid in all my life, much more than I will ever collect and the politicians spent the money and put IOU's in the till. It's a Ponzi scheme, I agree.

All of us Baby Boomers are now oldsters and we love life and want to hang on as long as possible, but we will be gone soon. The future of the United States will be solely on your shoulder's and your parents. We currently have a Boomer for President, but he is likely to be gone in 4 years. We do live in a much better and more equitable society now than we did in my younger years. It's more inclusive and equitable and folks are not as discriminated against and shamed, as they have been right up to the 21st century.

Recently I had a facebook messenger dialog with a young person who was blaming us Boomers for the situation in the United States now. After an extensive dialog, I think we both came to a better understanding between the generations and he has my phone number and promised to stop by when he is in town. We didn't start the fire folks - it's been burnin since the world's been turnin.

Monday, March 22