Brotherhood: Bound in Blood II

Brotherhood: Bound in Blood II

The second installment of a 4 part series: About how my brothers helped me through a rough time.

“I just can't do this anymore…” my girlfriend told me in between sobs on the phone. “This is just too much for me.” Make that ex girlfriend…

Nearly every Rat at VMI who matriculates with a girlfriend (or boyfriend) has their heart broken at some point in the 6 months that is the Ratline. It's pretty much inevitable. Your sweetheart at home can only wait so long. The infrequent contact, the changes to the mind, body and spirit, the stress and the constant reliance for support proves to be too much for many college age young women. They are growing and changing in a much different way than their Rats at VMI. This is to be expected. However, mine came at the worst possible time.

My relationship with a girl I went to high school with ended over the phone after two years. I had snuck into JM Hall (the cadet chapel) right before exam week in December of my Rat year. I was at a really low point in my life. I was getting a D in Statistics and equally struggling in Chinese, was taking all kinds of abuse from my cadre and the Rat Disciplinary Committee daily, knocking out hundreds of push-ups a day, constantly screaming knowledge at the top of my lungs, eating horrible food and coming back to a roommate who I clashed with quite a bit. There were so many times that I told myself I was going to transfer after this semester and that this wasn't worth it. My life seemed like a nightmare and I've never felt so depressed and empty in my life. At least my brass and shoes were shiny and I could march well….

So it was not a fun time in Rat Forbes’ life, but I'm not trying to make you feel sorry for me. The truth is, my experience was not unique at all. My 470 classmates can tell you the same story. Some had parents die, others were in danger of flunking out, while some were more worried about making ends meet for their family. We all suffered. Together. And it is because of them that I was able to find the inner strength to stay and finish strong. Why? In a word: Love.

Everything at VMI is a team activity, and I mean everything. You're constantly relying on one another for support in the classroom, in the Ratline, on the sports field, in military exercises and most importantly, you rely on your Brother Rat for emotional support in one way or another. If you quit, or leave the Institute, you impact so much more than just yourself. You might have been someone's support, and didn't even know it. Or maybe carrying those sandbags and logs up the hill will be a little bit tougher without you there to help. Or perhaps the cadre will put more pressure on your roommates without you there to share the heat. If you quit the team, you're hurting so much more than yourself.

So you keep going. And sometimes it isn't for yourself. It's for your Brother Rat to the left or right of you. You just put one foot in front of the other. Keep. Moving. Forward. No matter how bleak things might seem, you just keep grinding. Because it is love that holds you together. It's love that makes a 20 mile ruck march doable. It's love that allows you to laugh with your roommates after a sweat party (Google that one) and commiserate together during Hell Week. It's all love.

So back to newly single Rat Forbes… I walked back to barracks and strained (also Google) my way to my best friend's room to tell him what happened. He was able to cheer me up like any good friend would. It was that night that it really sunk in. I lost a girlfriend that night, but I had 470+ brothers at my back. And nothing is ever going to change that.

So if you take anything away from this, know that you are loved. And no matter what life throws at you, no matter how hard it may seem, you will always have people around you to catch you when you fall.

Rah Virginia Mil’. 18...

Cover Image Credit: Tag Second

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

This one's for you.

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.


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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