Great Expectations

21st Century Culture

There’s been an ad running on TV for a painting contractor (yes, I still watch some broadcast TV). This pretty young mom is extolling the virtues of the contractor, enthusing that they asked “How can we make painting an extraordinary experience for you?”

Really? I’ve hired a lot of painters in my time, and I’ve liked all of them. But I would never characterize having my house painted as potentially extraordinary. The best I hope for is “not too disruptive.”

I was ready to dismiss this as overwrought ad copy, but then I remembered the legions of first time homebuyers with unrealistic expectations whom I encountered earlier this year when I sold my home. By unrealistic expectations I don’t mean a walk in closet or granite kitchen counters. I mean their expectations about the home buying experience. One young couple pulled out of the bidding when I didn’t accept their first offer. They told my agent, “we feel buying our first home should be a joyous experience, and you’ve ruined it for us.”

Joyous and home buying are two phrases that should never be used in the same sentence. Don’t these people watch House Hunters? Maybe nerve wrecking or ulcer inducing or relationship destroying, but never joyous.

Not having children, I can easily scoff at the sense of entitlement that seems rampant among the millennials. It’s hard to believe that the Baby Boomers could raise a generation that is more entitled and self-absorbed than we are.

I worry for a generation heading out into the real world thinking every transaction is going to be extraordinary or joyous and that each of them is either a princess or a super hero. Great expectations are a terrific thing to have, but they should be tempered with a bit of reality or we will have a generation that is disappointed and confused.



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