Column: Store employees’ perception of teenagers – Web Exclusive

Janica Kaneshiro | Staff Writer

As I stood before the parents of the varsity soccer team in the minutes leading up to the game, I announced that I was from National Honor Society, and  was selling Wendy’s cards for a dollar to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma society. Almost in unison, their heads turned away from me and avoided eye contact. Typical. 

As I made my way up the stands continuing my rehearsed speech about “cards for cancer”, a woman held out a dollar without looking at me and said, “Hope this doesn’t go towards tee-shirts or something.” I tried to explain my cause, but she was clearly done listening.

My fellow card sellers were getting similar responses. It is in these moments when I wonder, “Would she treat me like this if I were an adult?” I understand that people in general trying to sell things can be annoying, but if I were say, 30 and doing the same job would it elicit the same response? Doubt it.

What, because I’m a teenager, I can’t stand for a cause like the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society?  For once, I’d like people to look past my age and instead take a look at what I stand for.

It’s like how store employees often assume that because you’re a teenager,  you could only possibly be there to create mischief, so they hardly give you the time of day. Then, when you’re there with a parent suddenly they take a kind interest in what size you wear and what you’re looking for that day.

So, I’m a teenager, and I’m always being told to grow up, which we all know is tough. But how can people expect me to do so when they treat me like a pesky kid trying to scrape money for a tee-shirt?

In all honesty, I wanted to hand the woman at the soccer game her dollar back, and stomp away, but being the mature teenager I am, I thanked her for her donation with a smile.

So, here’s to you clothing store owner and soccer mom: not all of us are stupid, conniving teens. I prefer the term young adult. Treat me like one.