An Open Letter to My Past Self

An Open Letter to My Past Self

What I wish I could tell the younger me.
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To myself 18 years ago,

I just want to start by saying: everything works out.

The day has finally come. The car is packed, and you are on your way to Curry College to pursue a major in Communication. Last night you said goodbye to your best friend, and this morning you went out bright and early to Dunkin' Donuts because the only way the boys would help you load up was if you brought them iced coffee and food. You have been waiting for this moment all summer, and you had all of your dorm stuff nice and early. As your friends are currently stressed out and running in circles preparing for tomorrow, you can relax and mentally prepare. You have talked to your roommate, and she seems nice. It took so much to get you to this point and you do not regret one step of the way.

You meet your childhood best friends when you move to Cape Cod at age two. They live right down the street, and you do everything together. There are neighborhood cookouts and your parents even take you to see ice shows. As you grow up, you and your neighborhood friends grow apart, but your childhood memories remain. From having lemonade stands, to playing manhunt outside until 11 p.m., these are the people you grow up with.

You were lucky enough to go to a kindergarten through grade eight elementary school, meaning you met and bonded with the same kids for nine years. The school system changed when you were a junior in high school. Now there is a pre-k through grade two school and a grade three through six school. The seventh and eighth graders were put at the high school. You loved your time at the little elementary school. You faced some struggles with anxiety and friends, but in the end, you came to love that small community. Your best friend today was in that small kindergarten class back just twelve years ago. She was not your best friend then, but she soon became it. You join an amazing theatre program at that elementary school. You are in High School Musical Jr., Beauty and the Beast Jr., and The Seussical Jr. You make some of your best friends and memories during those shows, and nothing ever compares to the feeling before a show.

Your friends from elementary are no longer your best friends. You are friendly, but it was never the same. In eighth grade you dreaded picking a high school. You were not accepted to the charter school because of the lottery system there. You ended up picking a high school in a neighboring town. About halfway through the subsequent summer, you chose to attend your local high school. *Spoiler Alert*: it was the best decision you made! When eighth grade came to a close, you were sad because this had been your community for nine years; you did not know the amazing four years that were ahead of you in high school.

On your first day of high school, your dad drives you to the school alongside your best friend. The place seems gigantic and you cannot find your locker. Two weeks into high school, that friend will leave to attend the charter school because her number was finally picked in the lottery. That year progresses and you made friends, but you do not really get involved. Sophomore year rolls around, and you are comfortable walking into the building on the first day. You join the model UN and another club based off of Big Brother Big Sister. *Spoiler Alert (again)*: you end up becoming the president of that second club during your senior year. Winter comes and you apply to be a peer leader, and get in! You get to go on the leadership retreat in June, but you end up falling down the stairs at that camp and severely spraining your ankle.

Junior year is when your high school career begins to amaze you. As a peer leader, you assist in open houses and similar events. You were chosen to do an independent project with the head of the technology department. You also take two AP classes: AP Biology and AP United States History, and you only end up regretting one of those classes! In the spring you go back to your elementary school to help your former theatre director resurrect the amazing program that you were a part of. You meet two of your best friends doing this and complete more than 200 hours of community service. You are then accepted into the National Honor Society! You did not think it could get any better and then senior year came.

Your accomplishments lead you to become a senior mentor to the class of 2019. That will be one of the best experiences you have during high school. You take AP Psychology and AP literature and Composition. You begin touring colleges and apply early action to nine colleges in three different states, and two different countries. You are accepted into all of those schools. In February, you finally choose Curry College.

You and your older sister get matching tattoos! You also help with another play at the elementary school with your best friends. When June comes, everyone is ready to graduate. On the last day of classes, everyone wears their college t-shirts with pride as you are dismissed from school an hour early, only to come back for graduation practice.

The day before graduation you will get your graduation robe and cap and be loaded on a bus and brought to your elementary school to march through. You see your old teacher with tears in their eyes. You made it. The Friday night before graduation, your graduating class will board The Odyssey boat cruise in Boston for one last hurrah. You dress up and take beautiful pictures of the skyline. The last memory of that night is the final song on the dance floor, “All My Friends” by Snakehips. Everyone is singing all of the words at the top of their lungs. Then on the bus ride home, someone brought a speaker and your bus did a sing along to old songs. The next morning you all said goodbye for what may be forever.

Now you are ready to cross the Sagamore Bridge into your future. I do not know what these next four years will hold, but I am ready to find out and I will let you know! Enjoy every aspect because in the end you will have no regrets.

Sincerely,

You in 18 years
Cover Image Credit: Sarah Simmons

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​An Open Letter To The People Who Don’t Tip Their Servers

This one's for you.
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Dear Person Who Has No Idea How Much The 0 In The “Tip:" Line Matters,

I want to by asking you a simple question: Why?

Is it because you can't afford it? Is it because you are blind to the fact that the tip you leave is how the waiter/waitress serving you is making their living? Is it because you're just lazy and you “don't feel like it"?

Is it because you think that, while taking care of not only your table but at least three to five others, they took too long bringing you that side of ranch dressing? Or is it just because you're unaware that as a server these people make $2.85 an hour plus TIPS?

The average waiter/waitress is only supposed to be paid $2.13 an hour plus tips according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

That then leaves the waiter/waitress with a paycheck with the numbers **$0.00** and the words “Not a real paycheck." stamped on it. Therefore these men and women completely rely on the tips they make during the week to pay their bills.

So, with that being said, I have a few words for those of you who are ignorant enough to leave without leaving a few dollars in the “tip:" line.

Imagine if you go to work, the night starts off slow, then almost like a bomb went off the entire workplace is chaotic and you can't seem to find a minute to stop and breathe, let alone think about what to do next.

Imagine that you are helping a total of six different groups of people at one time, with each group containing two to 10 people.

Imagine that you are working your ass off to make sure that these customers have the best experience possible. Then you cash them out, you hand them a pen and a receipt, say “Thank you so much! It was a pleasure serving you, have a great day!"

Imagine you walk away to attempt to start one of the 17 other things you need to complete, watch as the group you just thanked leaves, and maybe even wave goodbye.

Imagine you are cleaning up the mess that they have so kindly left behind, you look down at the receipt and realize there's a sad face on the tip line of a $24.83 bill.

Imagine how devastated you feel knowing that you helped these people as much as you could just to have them throw water on the fire you need to complete the night.

Now, realize that whenever you decide not to tip your waitress, this is nine out of 10 times what they go through. I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to realize that this is someone's profession — whether they are a college student, a single mother working their second job of the day, a new dad who needs to pay off the loan he needed to take out to get a safer car for his child, your friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, you.

If you cannot afford to tip, do not come out to eat. If you cannot afford the three alcoholic drinks you gulped down, plus your food and a tip do not come out to eat.

If you cannot afford the $10 wings that become half-off on Tuesdays plus that water you asked for, do not come out to eat.

If you cannot see that the person in front of you is working their best to accommodate you, while trying to do the same for the other five tables around you, do not come out to eat. If you cannot realize that the man or woman in front of you is a real person, with their own personal lives and problems and that maybe these problems have led them to be the reason they are standing in front of you, then do not come out to eat.

As a server myself, it kills me to see the people around me being deprived of the money that they were supposed to earn. It kills me to see the three dollars you left on a $40 bill. It kills me that you cannot stand to put yourself in our shoes — as if you're better than us. I wonder if you realize that you single-handedly ruined part of our nights.

I wonder if maybe one day you will be in our shoes, and I hope to God no one treats you how you have treated us. But if they do, then maybe you'll realize how we felt when you left no tip after we gave you our time.

Cover Image Credit: Hailea Shallock

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Everyone Should Experience Working In Fast Food Or Retail

Working in fast food was definitely not sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows, but I'm so glad I did it.

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I know these jobs aren't glamorous. In fact, most days I looked forward to clocking out before I had even clocked in. I always secretly rolled my eyes when an angry customer droned on and on about how entitled he or she was. Though I can name a lot of bad things that happened on the job, it wasn't all horrible. As I reflect on my time working in fast food, I realize how much having that job really taught me and how grateful I am to have had that experience. I really think everyone should work in fast food or retail at some point, and here's why:

You make some great friends from work. I get it, sometimes your co-workers are royal jerks or flat out creeps. You see your name on the schedule next to theirs and immediately try switching with someone else. I've been there. However, I have worked with some amazing people as well.

Every time I worked with one girl in particular, we laughed for entire shifts. One night, we were singing the national anthem at the top of our lungs without realizing a customer had come in (to our surprise, she applauded our terrible screaming). Another coworker and I turned up the radio on full blast when business was slow and had dance battles. We made the most of our shifts, and I still talk to some of these people today.

You learn how to deal with difficult people. It's the age-old story: the uppity customer thinks twelve dollars for a meal combo is outrageous and Where is your manager?!

My friend and I were once called stupid and a customer said he would never come back to our restaurant to eat ever again. At the moment, we were scared out of our minds because we were both pretty new to the job. As time passed, we became more patient and tolerant and knew what triggered these particular customers. Dealing with these adversities definitely helps in the long run, particularly when it comes to doing group work with people who seem unbearable.

Your people skills increase by a landslide. I had always thought that I was great with people before I had a job. However, when I found myself in situations where I had to talk to strangers, I would grow nervous and stumble across my words from time to time. Working in an environment where communicating with others is a driving force helped me not only with improving my public speaking, but also made me more outgoing. In situations where I once backed into the corner to avoid having to talk to someone, I now take charge and initiate a conversation.

You establish a connection with regular customers. My favorite customer was named Jack. He was the sweetest old man who came in every Wednesday and Friday and bought food for himself and his wife. I quickly memorized his order, which impressed him. We shared pleasantries every time he came in, and my coworkers and I looked forward to seeing him.

Establishing a relationship with people who come in a lot helps immensely when it comes to working. It also provides a sense of accomplishment when you memorize an order. Not to mention, the customers start to like you and typically leave a generous tip!

You have stories to tell for a lifetime! Sometimes bad things happen at work. Once I was holding a hot pan and burned my arm— I still have the burn mark on my arm to prove it. My point is, it sucked at the moment, but now I look back and laugh.

One time I asked my coworker how to make soup and she replied, "Slowly, but beautifully." It was so nonchalant that I cracked up for hours. There was also a time when a customer asked me for outlandish toppings and condiments that we didn't offer. The craziest story, though, was the drug deal that went down in our public restrooms. My coworker and I obviously could not leave our station and follow these people into the bathroom, so we were pretty much defenseless. Nobody got hurt or anything, so it made for a great story.

Working in fast food was definitely not sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows, but I'm so glad I did it. It made me more independent and outgoing and gave me memories I'll never forget.

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