Article posted Thursday, September 2, 2010 2:29pm

Dear Mary Pat,

Is it me, or are teenagers not quite as bright as they used to be? I seem to be encountering a lot of blank stares from teenaged help wherever I see them. Or it could just be that I’m getting too judgmental as I age. What do you think?

The Light is On, but Nobody’s Home

Baileys Harbor, WI

Dear The Light is On, but Nobody’s Home,

Perhaps you are being a little too judgmental with our younger friends. I’m sure that they are a lot brighter than they look. As they ease into adulthood, they might appear to be a little slower on the uptake, however, you should give them the benefit of the doubt. Their comprehension skills perhaps haven’t been sharpened yet, so differentiating a single scoop from a double scoop might put them into a tailspin.

I think the real culprit for seeming clueless is not an intelligence factor, it’s actually that they have much more important things on their minds. (Who they will run into after work, which tunes they have to download onto their iPods, whether Lindsay Lohan is out of rehab yet, deciding whether soy tastes as good as milk in a latte, etc.) So, next time a teenager comes up to your table to take an order and doesn’t seem to be focusing, remember not to take it personally. They are probably thinking about 10 different things at once. It’s unfortunate that your food order isn’t one of them, but you were young once too.

Good luck,

Mary Pat