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The generation gap

Rick Ryckeley's picture

The generation gap is something I’ve heard about all of my life, but never really believed in. The other day was when I realized that not only does the gap exist, but just how far that gap has widened for me.

That’s when one of my coworkers asked me to go camping. The young twenty-something thought it was a good idea to ask the old guy to come along — that is, until I started to ask questions. That’s one thing us old guys are good at – asking a bunch of questions.

First I wanted to know just where this camping trip was and was it near anything made by man. The answer was a resounding, “No, but it’ll be fun. To get to the camp site we’ll have to hike in five miles, then clear brush to pitch the tents, dig a fire pit, and then cut more brush for the fire. The fire is for cooking, warmth at night, and to ward off any bears.”

Bears? First of all, the only bears I want to see up close are at the zoo, not in my tent.

Second, if we’re going to hike five miles into camp with a heavy pack on our backs, I have just two questions. Who’s going to carry my pack? Then after three miles, who’s going to carry me?

And third, why would anyone hike five miles just to lie on the cold ground to go to sleep with bears when I’m sure there’s a Hampton Inn nearby. And they serve a free breakfast, no fire needed. If I went camping, I’d be the bears’ breakfast.

Also of concern was that any kind of medical care needed would be a five-mile hike out to get help. No cell phones, computers, television and most important of all, there would be no air-conditioning.

What there would be would be a bunch of bugs. I heard those mountain bugs can grow as big as dogs in all that fresh air. Who in their right mind would go camping in the north Georgia mountains during February?

Oh, that’s right, a twenty-something. The generation gap widens.

So there will be no doubt, you won’t find me camping this February, March or any month for that matter. My idea of roughing it is checking into a hotel that doesn’t have valet parking, concierges, an ice maker on every floor, a lounge in the lobby, and a pool overlooking the north Georgia mountains.

But this wasn’t the first time I realized I was now on the other side of the gap. I really noticed the gap starting last Christmas. That’s when The Wife gave me the best present ever – a Zoom. The Boy quickly corrected me by telling me it was a Zune, not Zoom. In either case the generation gap had formed beneath me and was starting to crack.

It seems the playing card size electronic device was the latest and greatest. Of what, I’m still not sure, but The Boy was really excited. He had to show me how to cut it on. The thing comes with no instructions; it just assumes that if you’re smart enough to buy it, then you’re smart enough to know how to use it. Or in my case, have a twenty-something that’s hip on all the new technological stuff.

Determined not to lose touch with the youth of today and fall headlong into the generation gap, I’m proud to say that now, after eight months, I can cut the Zoom on and play music. I even hooked it up to the computer yesterday and it copied all of my pictures. How and why it did it, I really don’t know. I just wanted to recharge it.

Like Big Foot or the Abominable Snowman, the generation gap is something I always thought to be a myth. Apparently, I was wrong. It has been here all along just waiting patiently for me to get old enough. Then it’s going to swallow me whole.

[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, has been a firefighter for more than two decades and a columnist for The Citizen since 2001. His email is]


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