Published on July 6, 2021

The View from my Seat

Maybe our youth isn’t hopeless after all

By Ernie Williamson / The Bulletin

“The children today love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households.”

If you are a senior citizen like I am, I bet you have had similar thoughts or heard friends express similar views.

With the exception, of course, of our own perfect children and grandchildren, we seniors often think today’s younger generations are more disrespectful, more undisciplined and have a greater sense of entitlement than ever before.

We bash them while apparently forgetting who raised them.

I am not going to make any broad pronouncements on today’s youth, but I have met a couple of young people recently who give me hope for the future.

As a paraplegic with limited options for physical activity, going to the pool several times a week for water therapy is important mentally and physically.

But not any pool will do. I need a lift with a chair to lower me into the pool and raise me out.

Most of the year I use the wonderful facilities at the Pearland Recreation Center and Natatorium.
During summer months, however, I am fortunate to have a neighborhood pool that is closer and has a lift.

I didn’t use the neighborhood pool when we first moved into our Pearland subdivision because the lift wasn’t reliable, and the staff didn’t seem trained on using it. I would sometimes show up for a swim but would leave because the lift wouldn’t work.

That all changed last year when a young woman seemed to take it upon herself to learn everything about the lift. When it wouldn’t work, she would press her boss to get it fixed.

I was impressed and appreciative. I was, after all, the only one using the lift.

As the summer wore on, we would chat as I got ready for my therapy. I soon figured out that she was not only making sure the lift worked but was hanging around in case I slipped transferring from my wheelchair to the lift.

I learned she was going to be a freshman at UT and wanted to major in law.

When the pool season started this year, I expected my favorite lifeguard to have moved on, the chair not to work and the staff to be untrained.

But I got a nice surprise. The UT student was back and wearing a shirt with “Manager” on it. “She greeted me and said she was rotating among several pools. She said by the end of the week she would have everybody trained on using the lift.

She kept her promise, and soon another young lady was helping with the lift. She, too, would hang around to make sure I wouldn’t accidentally fall.

She is bound for Houston Baptist University to major in psychology.

One afternoon after a nice water therapy session, I climbed into the lift chair and pulled the lever to raise me out of the pool.

Nothing happened, and I knew there was no other way out of the pool.

I was stuck and embarrassed. I hate when my paraplegia makes a spectacle of me. It was a nightmare as well-intentioned people gathered around to offer advice and assistance.

Unable to fix it, the HBU student got into the water and, after several attempts and the help of another lifeguard, was able to push me and the chair up and out of the pool.

I realize these were minor events in the grand scheme of things, but they were big enough to make me think maybe bashing younger generations is based more on tradition than fact.

Re-read the quote that began this column.

It was written by Socrates … 2,500 years ago.

(Ernie Williamson welcomes reader input. Please contact Ernie at williamsonernie@gmail.com. Or, send letters in care of The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton, TX. 77516)