Frank Moldstad is the only 50-something at a west coast digital marketing firm comprised almost entirely of 20-somethings. This is the ongoing story of his travails....
It is my habit to read a book while I eat lunch at my desk. My Gen Y co-workers find this odd. I have become accustomed to curious glances when they stop by to talk with my cube-mate Evelyn. Sometimes they comment. My favorite was, "Are you really reading that?"
Nearly everything my co-workers read is on a computer. I spend copious amounts of time on the web myself, reading blogs, newspapers and the like. I've given up my wristwatch, stored my 35mm camera and tossed my typewriter. But not my books. In my opinion, even the Kindle is no substitute. The fact that I'm one of a vanishing species is pointed out to me daily.
"Jane has a nickname for you," Evelyn volunteers, referring to her friend from the next cubicle. "She calls you The Reader."
I believe this is a putdown, but I prefer to think of it as a compliment.
"Don't you ever read books?" I ask.
"Not since college," Evelyn says. "Anything I want is online."
"What about novels?" I ask. "Nobody is going to read something like War and Peace on a computer."
"That's what movies are for," she says. "Who has time to read a book? It takes forever."
I'm reminded of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, where firemen burned books, ideas were subversive and the classics were reduced to vapid five-minute TV programs. But that was just a story, right?
"If you like movies, you should watch Fahrenheit 451," I say.
"You mean Fahrenheit 9/11?" she asks. "I saw that. It was about how the war in Iraq was because of oil."
"No, Fahrenheit 451!" says a voice from the hall. It is Lucy, our millennial IT gal. "I read that. It was great," she says.
Evelyn stares at her, confused.
"I thought you said it was a movie," she says to me.
"It was a book first, and believe me, it was much better than the movie," Lucy says.
"Well, if books are so great, how come the libraries all have computers?" says Evelyn.
"Because most people don't read books anymore," says Lucy. "But they should. I love to read. It's a habit I picked it up from my mom. Anyway, gotta go."
As she walks away, I think how ironic it is that the only other reader I've encountered in the office is our computer person, who is probably more technologically oriented than anyone else. Maybe there is hope for Generation Y. Evelyn sees it differently, however.
"Lucy is even weirder than you," she says.