“Automatic” by Miranda Lambert

Listen here.

This is Miranda Lambert at her very best, much like “The House That Built Me.”  He sings a great angry song (“Gunpowder and Lead” is my very favorite), but her voice is also suited for songs like this.  Meaningful.  Where there’s history.  Where she takes you back in time.Miranda-Lambert-Automatic

If you had something to say

You’d write it on a piece of paper

Then you’d put a stamp on it

And they’d get it three days later

Do you remember having pen pals?  I loved getting mail when I was younger, so I’d acquire as many pen pals as possible from around the world.  I remember having one in Australia, for sure.  And one of my mom’s college friends’ daughters and I would write back and forth all through elementary school, and maybe into middle school, but I don’t remember now how long that lasted.  I loved it.  I loved writing things down, capturing something on a piece of paper and asking my mom for an envelope and a stamp so I could send it out.  It was fun.  And the waiting was both the best and worst part.  It was all about the anticipation.

And chain letters!  Do you remember those?  Man, good times.

Let’s pull the windows down

Windows with the cranks

Come on, let’s take a picture

The kind you gotta shake

My dad’s truck still has the crank windows.  And it doesn’t have automatic locks.  And if he ever thought about giving the dang thing up (it’s a ’99), I’d be right there wondering if it would be feasible to buy it.  Just because I love it so much.

And I distinctly remember my great-grandmother always taking pictures of us with her Polaroid camera.  The picture would spit out, and she’d shake it and wait for the image to appear.  And then she’d hang them up.  I don’t remember a whole lot about her anymore (she died when I was 12), but I remember that.  And her finger cookies, the recipe of which has disappeared.  If there ever was a recipe, that is.  And the fact that she always had those after-dinner mints on the table in a dish, and that my sister would eat them like candy.Miranda-Lambert-Automatic (1)

All of those memories make me smile, because who doesn’t love a good walk down memory lane?  But, deep down, I know that this song isn’t about the verses.  It’s about the chorus.

Hey, whatever happened to

Waiting your turn

Doing it all by hand

Because when everything is handed to you

It’s only worth

As much as the time put in

It all just seemed so good the way we had it

Back before everything became automatic

I have noticed something about the world since I started working at a university.  There is a generation gap that you won’t believe between me and the students in college right now.  Yes, the difference is as little as four years in age (between me and rising college seniors), but at the same time, it is profound.

I have never encountered a group of people who are more entitled than this generation of college students.  They expect things to be done for them.  They expect to get by on a smile or a flirt or their insufferable charm.  And they try to get us fired for not falling for it by bashing us in reviews, by saying we don’t respect them, that we’re mean and that we need to get over ourselves.  When I first started working here, I took it all to heart.  I read every single evaluation and got legitimately upset by them all.  I don’t even read them anymore.  I can’t.  It’s too upsetting.

Healthy eighteen-year-olds try to convince us that it’s “cruel and unusual punishment” to make them stand for three hours straight.  No, it’s just against the fire code and out of the budget to buy hundreds of stools so you can be lazy.  Sorry.  We provide stools to special needs students, and things like that, but not to everyone.

A student in the remedial chemistry lab brought her used test tubes with liquid still in the bottom up to me at the window and asked where she was supposed to put the used ones.  I think I blinked at her a couple of times before I said that she had to wash them.  “Wash them myself?” she asked.  Why, yes.  You may have never done dishes in your entire life, but that ends today.

But my favorite was a student who was from a different country who wouldn’t put his goggles on.  He kept smiling at me, nodding like he understood, but he wouldn’t put them on.  After finally calling his TA up to have a word with him, the student came back and said “No English,” or something like that.  So I demonstrated for him what it looked like to put goggles on.  He responded, in nearly unaccented English, “I forgot mine, can’t I get an exception.”

These people drive me up the wall, through the roof, into the clouds.

Whatever happened to working hard for something?  To taking responsibility when you mess up?  To not expecting life to be handed to you on a silver platter?

Sadly, I think this world is here to stay.  It’s the YOLO generation, after all.

I came from the LYLAS generation.  If you don’t know what that means, then I feel sad for you.  Because I know K does (and LYLAS always, K!).

When I want someone to respect me, I work for it.  I wish that everyone else felt the same.

Oh, and Platinum, Miranda’s fourth album, comes out tomorrow!Miranda-Lambert-Platinum

-A.

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