Reflections of a Gen Xer

It figures that mere hours after we uploaded the April issue, which was intended to go to the SCA Expo in Portland, Oregon next month, the SCA officially cancelled – not postponed – the 2020 Re:co Symposium and Expo. Re:co and Expo will return in April 2021 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The 2021 Re:co Symposium is scheduled for 21-22 April, with the Expo immediately following, taking place 23-25 April.

This week, the annual National Restaurant Association Show (16-19 May in Chicago, Illinois) was also cancelled and will return in 2021. I’m sure these won’t be the last coffee or tea trade shows/events to be cancelled or postponed this year (although many through June have already announced delays and new dates—see our events page).

I am perhaps, better prepared than most, to be forced to “stay at home” because I have been working from home since Bell Publishing acquired Tea & Coffee Trade Journal in 2016. As we were “heavy” into production for the April issue last week, aside from not being able to go to the gym, find an open coffeeshop in my neighborhood and having less-than-normal “extracurricular activities” (which I limit during production weeks anyway), it was pretty much business as usual.

Now that the issue has closed, I have more “free” time, so I’ve been perusing non-coffee and tea-related and Covid-19 stories online. I came across an article about how Gen X – the often overlooked generation sandwiched between baby boomers and millennials – is rising to the occasion amid the Covid-19 crisis. The article discusses how Gen Xers (those born between 1965 and 1980) are being praised for their ability to “roll with the punches” and “handle tough moments in life” like these.

The article quotes Gail Saltz, MD, an associate professor of psychiatry at the NY Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell School of Medicine, who said, “Gen X tends to be, on the whole, seen as happy and balanced in work life, and active compared with other generations.”

As the article points out, Gen X – my generation – lived through events like the hostage crisis in Iran, part of the civil rights movement, the gas crunch, recessions, the AIDS and crack epidemics, and came of age when many households had two working parents (the “latch-key kids” as the children were called) so they had to fend for themselves when they came home from school (at appropriate ages of course!). Thus, they are used to being independent and self-sufficient. This prepared Gen Xers well for situations like the current one.

We were all active (for the most part, there are always exceptions) and spent a lot of time playing outside — spring, summer, fall and winter.

This is also a generation that grew up at a time in which technology and consumer electronics were becoming more important in everyday life (home computers like the Commodore 64, remote control televisions, answering machines, Atari’s, Nintendo’s, Walkman’s and then CDs…). But we could also occupy our time and amuse ourselves without “tech toys” — also good preparation for the current environment. As one reader accurately commented, “We know how to use tech, but can live without it.”

Many readers chimed in with their childhood memories noting television shows such as The Love Boat, Duke’s of Hazard, cartoons like The Pink Panther and Wonder Twins (“Wonder Twin powers, activate!”), such games as Simon, Sorry and Slip ‘n Slide, as well as foods like Cheez Wiz and TV dinners (which were always chosen by the dessert, not the actual entrée).

When reading the article, I was reminded of the coffee machine my parents had when I was a child — a Mr Coffee. I’m sure they had one or two before that one (although products were built to last longer “back then”), but that’s the first one I remember. It was noisy — as soon as the automatic timer went off, I could hear the coffee brewing from my upstairs bedroom. More importantly, I could smell the coffee brewing. Despite both signaling that it was time to get up and get ready for school, and the fact that my parents never let me have any coffee as a child (except for the occasional “drop of coffee” in a cup of milk), I loved the sounds and scent emanating from that machine. To this day, the aroma of brewing coffee or a noisily brewing coffee machine triggers fond childhood memories.

My parents have a much more upscale coffee machine today that brews silently – and brews better coffee – and I use a French press, but I would not have traded in that Mr Coffee machine for any other one as I believe it was the catalyst for my life-long love of coffee and a morning routine that began when my parents finally allowed me to have a cup of coffee before school at age 14. And what a great memory to have, especially during these dubious and trying times.

I hope you all have happy coffee or tea memories to reflect on these days. And if you need help finding ways to occupy your stay-at-home time, forget millennials and Gen Zers, talk to a Gen Xer!

Be safe and be well!

  • Vanessa L. Facenda, editor Tea & Coffee Trade Journal. She may be contacted via [email protected]

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