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Monday, November 05, 2007

Letter to RedEye: Double Dose!

It's been a while since I wrote anything to the RedEye, and longer still since they've published anything I've sent. So this morning, after a large bit of network trouble here at the office, I managed to shoot them a double-dose of ranting. The first letter is in response to an article about the Boomerang Generation being the new wave - students returning home from college to mooch off their parents.

Boomerang Generation: New Ways to Fail

The whole notion of the Boomerang Generation is just another brick in the wall of coddling children separating them from the real world to which they should be properly contributing. I read in a study that humans are the most immature animals on the planet - in the sense that it takes our young nineteen years on average until they are able to contribute enough back to the society that has been supporting it through childhood. Think about that for a second - on average, it takes our children nineteen years until they can give back more to society than they are taking and become full-fledged adults.

And now we're letting them stay sheltered even more? Where is the outcry of older generations to put these whippersnappers in their place with stories of how far they'd advanced "by your age" and been married with a job and supporting two kids of their own and whatnot? "Five miles uphill both ways in the snow" and so forth! I'm all for the notion of letting children be children, but at some point, you have to cut the umbilical cord - and keep it cut. Maybe this isn't about children being a boomerang generation, but about parents not coping with their Empty Nest Syndrome.

My parents had the right idea, strangely enough. Two days after I moved to college, before I'd even finished unpacking my things, my parents threw out my bed back home. The message was clear: "The cord is cut. You're in the real world now." I love them for doing that, because I have my own place, my own job, my own bills and maybe someday my own family as well.

Aaron Samuels, 24, Bridgeport

This second letter is in response to their article about how people really can't trust the CTA, who just got bailed out yet again, meaning no Doomsday Plan needs to be enacted until . . . oh, a few more weeks. And the Doomsday Scare will resume anew. So here's my response, which I've been thinking about for WEEKS.

Lack of Trust for the CTA

My problem with the CTA isn't about the constant whining for more financial support and then further whining upon receiving "not enough" financial support. My problem is about the lack of follow-through. Here's a random analogy that may or may not shed light on my concerns:

A pie shop sells apple pies. But they realize their apple stock is running low and they won't be getting any deliveries in for a while. Frantically, they start discussing pears. They invest money on methods to quickly obtain pears, debate over the price difference, research recipes for pear pies, perform taste tests and do market research to see if people can handle pear pies, advertising new pear pies due to lack of apples, and after an entire month of this nonsense - a truckload of apples comes in and apple piemaking resumes and nobody does anything about pears until a few weeks later when the apples are running low again.

I'd just like to know how much money went into purchasing ad space to warn people about the Doomsday plan, how much went into planning the Doomsday plan out in the first place, how much was spent on wages for people handing out fliers about Doomsday or putting up notices in stations and on buses instead of their regular jobs and how much was spent on all of the pamphlets and fliers and signs themselves. The worst part is that even though they got their money, that means all of the money spent warning about Doomsday was a waste because the plan was never used and the money just creates a further drain that speeds up the next Doomsday when it all repeats.

At some point, you just have to DEMAND that they have a little follow-through, so maybe they can finally fix the problem and stop wasting all this extra money in the meantime. I hate the thought of paying extra money, but I hate the thought of WASTING money a whole lot more.

Aaron Samuels, 24, Bridgeport

Actually, I just got an e-mail back from Kyla at Going Public in response to my CTA letter!

Hi Aaron:
Good points, and spoken like someone with a true business mind. Good analogy. I will try and get this into reader letters, but we may have to trim a bit for space. Thanks so much, and have a great rest of the week!


So it's not only shocking to get a reply TEN MINUTES after I sent these off, but such a positive one at that! I was flabbergasted to read "Good analogy." Seriously. I chuckled at the notion that I have a true business mind. Strange how everyone mistakes "common sense" for a "good business mind".

Well, if they print anything, I'll let you know (and make it bold here)!


Anonymous said...

You're kidding, right?

I call your idea the drowning man theory. Man screams help me, I'm drowning. Aaronbsam pulls him onto the deck of his small sailboat. But alas, seeing that the man has not actually drowned, Aaronbsam says, you liar, you weren't drowning, and throws him back in, where he does in fact drown.

What a friggin' joke! I can't believe people write this crap, and I can't believe Redeye considers printing it. Do you folks think, or do you just write without thinking? (Well, having looked at the Redeye, I don't know why I ask.)

AaronBSam said...

No, Anonymous, I'm not kidding.

I'm claiming that this "drowning man" has an uninflated life preserver around his waist. The man thinks "if a boat doesn't pick me up in an hour, I won't have strength to swim so I'll have to inflate this life preserver myself." In this case, boats keep picking up this drowning man before he has to inflate the life preserver. Should boats stop picking him up? No. Will the life preserver stop him from drowning? Yes. Does that mean he won't die of exposure or starvation instead? No.

It just really doesn't make the situation any better when you learn that this drowning man had a tendency to lean over rails while boating and also has narcolepsy.

I'm not saying that the guy isn't drowning. I'm just saying that even if I pull him aboard, I know that within a few weeks, he'll be back in the water, thrashing about with an unused life preserver.

Dustin said...

I can't believe people write this kind of schlock, but I can believe that the redeye prints it -- it's a sorry excuse for a tabloid and loves to print articles that are maximally inflammatory and minimally factual. Remember the cover story that CTA buses and trains are dirty? Yeah -- breaking story there.

The apple/pear analogy really didn't have anything to do with your complaint about spending money to inform Chicagoans about the doomsday, so I'll ignore it. The point is, the RTA has hundreds of millions of dollars less than it needs. The cost of the advertising, including staff, was *maybe* 200k (it's roughly equivalent to the marketing that goes into a concert at the Aragon).

The current situation is untenable: it doesn't matter if they burn any remaining cash for heat; they'll be out of business shortly ayway. CTA made a wise choice to invest perhaps 30 minutes worth of operating funds in a marketing campaign that has been very successful -- most Chicagoans are now aware that Springfield wants to destroy the RTA, and the idea that the RTA has frittered away a windfall is now thoroughly discredited.

Yes, the doomsdays are infuriating. Yes, I wish they didn't happen. But no, I don't think the RTA should quietly go on operating, leaving Chicagoans to wake up one morning to find no buses and no trains.