Late last month, I invited a recent high school graduate to write an advice column for an upcoming Sunday project that’s running in the Tribune and Contra Costa Times — a guide for college-bound middle and high school students and their families.
The student agreed, and we set an Aug. 10 deadline. On Aug. 11, after not receiving email responses in the previous week, I called to check in. The student was at the doctor’s office and couldn’t talk.
An hour or two later, this Twitter-sized message pops up in my email inbox:
“im pretty sure. i wont be able to do the column, i been feelings horrible lately.”
No apology, no explanation for why it took so long to tell me about the problem (It’s now too late to find someone else), or for why I needed to call to elicit a response in the first place. Heck, not even a complete sentence. All this, from a student-leader who had planned to give advice to younger kids and families.
I realize that people become ill and face unforseen hardships. But they also have cell phones. Well, in this case, anyway.
The incident left me wondering if many teens think that this sort of nonchalant approach to commitment will fly in the real world. Or if they think a deadline such as this will just go away if they don’t act on it. Have others noticed a similar attitude, or am I just being curmudgeonly?
It’s quite possible, too, that this is an isolated instance. I’ve had very positive experiences with my student-bloggers and other teenagers I’ve worked with in the past four-plus years in the Bay Area.
At any rate, I’ll know to have a back-up plan next time.