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“Why do young women like their hair sloppy these days? Women of my age keep their hair combed and styled to look decent,” said the man standing next to his wife donning a beehive from the south side of Hades.

I knew better than to be insulted by his comment. His wife and I were from different eras with different ideas of beauty, but we got along just fine. It was him that couldn’t make peace with Generations Whatever. This happened over a decade ago, before I became a parent without the time to care about my hair or anyone else’s.

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But the comment that really ruffled my sloppy-young hair was when he made fun of my size. “Women of my generation were soft, and had more curves. Girls of today are just skin and bones,” said the man when my 120 pound frame helped a caregiver lift his 200+ sack of curves from the floor. Did I tell him that I worked muscle onto my skin and bones every day before work so I could lift him and a few others off the floor each time they fell?

No. Even as a young spawn from Generation Whatever, I knew his sass was due to his loss of dignity. The next day, he came to my desk and told me he used to be a cop. He was the one who came to the rescue. He told me about the 100 lb. bags of Whatever he could lift above his head. I heard the frustration coming through his insults, and understood.

He just wanted someone to hear him—the real him that was a hero and not chained inside his worn-out body. I think each generation mourns the differences of the ones that follow, focusing on the changes in attitudes, fashion, and music. But if my crabby friend had stopped talking long enough to pay attention, he would have realized that I didn’t care a flying beehive what year he came from, or what he looked like as an old man—I heard him. I saw him.

And despite being the one of the worst listeners I’ve ever known, the man inside the skin taught me how to hear people.

I wish the Millennials great hair and good ears.

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