Dear Governor Snyder: What's The Point In Voting?

Dear Governor Snyder: What's The Point In Voting?

How Michigan has become an oligarchy.
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What’s the point in voting?

I have always strongly believed that my right as a voter is the ultimate smackdown in this democratic society. When I say no, I mean it, and the others who vote with me are a voice to be reckoned with.

But it’s hard to keep this faith when my vote is thrown in my face.

Last week, the Michigan legislature passed a bill that is going to increase the gas tax and vehicle registration fees in 2017 and beyond. Governor Rick Snyder signed it into law.

Our registration fees, one of the highest in the nation, will bump up by 20 percent. The gas tax, already one of the highest in the nation, is set to go from 19 percent to 26.3 percent, and then rise even more either by 5 percent or inflation, whichever is less. All of this to raise more money to fix the roads in Michigan, but also take vast amounts of money from the general fund and cut from other areas as well.

Yes, Michigan roads are among the worst in the state. But as of right now, people in the state of Michigan do not understand where current money taken from the gas tax and registration fees goes. It doesn't all go towards the roads and paying people to fix them. So in May of 2015, Michigan voters overwhelmingly voted no on a proposal that would increase the gas tax and set into action other amendments to the state constitution.

And now, they’ve passed a bill that did it anyways.

This now causes me to strongly reconsider my fundamental rights as a citizen. Where did they have the power to make these kinds of decisions? How did this happen?

I’d heard the term "oligarchy" used before, but never before had I seriously considered it. Now I think it’s the truth. An oligarchy is a small group of people having control over a country, institution or organization. This is what the United States is, because obviously our votes don’t count for anything. And even if we don’t want to stretch it as far as the United States, then we can at least say that Michigan is.

Big businesses lobby for votes. The people in power do not take into consideration the people they are supposedly representing and ignore what the people say. Why, there's been instances in presidential elections were the general vote has been upsurped by the electoral votes.

I challenge Rick Snyder to tell me I’m wrong and explain why he stabbed the voters' backs in the state of Michigan.

No means no.

Tell us where all your money is coming from, why you’re okay with cutting education and other benefits for state workers, why you can’t seem to grasp that running a state like a business is not how you do things.

We are people. Not assets.

Cover Image Credit: Getty Images

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Your Wait time At Theme Parks Is Not Unfair, You're Just Impatient

Your perceived wait time is always going to be longer than your actual wait time if you can't take a minute to focus on something other than yourself.

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Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios "unboxed" on June 30, 2018. My friend and I decided to brave the crowds on opening day. We got to the park around 7 AM only to find out that the park opened around 6 AM. Upon some more scrolling through multiple Disney Annual Passholder Facebook groups, we discovered that people were waiting outside the park as early as 1 AM.

We knew we'd be waiting in line for the bulk of the Toy Story Land unboxing day. There were four main lines in the new land: the line to enter the land; the line for Slinky Dog Dash, the new roller coaster; the line for Alien Spinning Saucers, the easier of the new rides in the land; Toy Story Mania, the (now old news) arcade-type ride; and the new quick-service restaurant, Woody's Lunchbox (complete with grilled cheese and "grown-up drinks").

Because we were so early, we did not have to wait in line to get into the land. We decided to ride Alien Spinning Saucers first. The posted wait time was 150 minutes, but my friend timed the line and we only waited for 50 minutes. Next, we tried to find the line for Slinky Dog Dash. After receiving conflicting answers, the runaround, and even an, "I don't know, good luck," from multiple Cast Members, we exited the land to find the beginning of the Slinky line. We were then told that there was only one line to enter the park that eventually broke off into the Slinky line. We were not about to wait to get back into the area we just left, so we got a Fastpass for Toy Story Mania that we didn't plan on using in order to be let into the land sooner. We still had to wait for our time, so we decided to get the exclusive Little Green Man alien popcorn bin—this took an entire hour. We then used our Fastpass to enter the land, found the Slinky line, and proceeded to wait for two and a half hours only for the ride to shut down due to rain. But we've come this far and rain was not about to stop us. We waited an hour, still in line and under a covered area, for the rain to stop. Then, we waited another hour and a half to get on the ride from there once it reopened (mainly because they prioritized people who missed their Fastpass time due to the rain). After that, we used the mobile order feature on the My Disney Experience app to skip part of the line at Woody's Lunchbox.

Did you know that there is actually a psychological science to waiting? In the hospitality industry, this science is the difference between "perceived wait" and "actual wait." A perceived wait is how long you feel like you are waiting, while the actual wait is, of course, the real and factual time you wait. There are eight things that affect the perceived wait time: unoccupied time feels longer than occupied time, pre-process waits feel longer than in-process waits, anxiety makes waits feel longer, uncertain waits are longer than certain waits, unexplained waits are longer than explained waits, unfair waits are longer than equitable waits, people will wait longer for more valuable service and solo waiting feels longer than group waiting.

Our perceived wait time for Alien Spinning Saucers was short because we expected it to be longer. Our wait for the popcorn seemed longer because it was unoccupied and unexplained. Our wait for the rain to stop so the ride could reopen seemed shorter because it was explained. Our wait between the ride reopening and getting on the coaster seemed longer because it felt unfair for Disney to let so many Fastpass holders through while more people waited through the rain. Our entire wait for Slinky Dog Dash seemed longer because we were not told the wait time in the beginning. Our wait for our food after placing a mobile order seemed shorter because it was an in-process wait. We also didn't mind wait long wait times for any of these experiences because they were new and we placed more value on them than other rides or restaurants at Disney. The people who arrived at 1 AM just added five hours to their perceived wait

Some non-theme park examples of this science of waiting in the hospitality industry would be waiting at a restaurant, movie theater, hotel, performance or even grocery store. When I went to see "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom," the power went out in the theater right as we arrived. Not only did we have to wait for it to come back and for them to reset the projectors, I had to wait in a bit of anxiety because the power outage spooked me. It was only a 30-minute wait but felt so much longer. At the quick-service restaurant where I work, we track the time from when the guest places their order to the time they receive their food. Guests in the drive-thru will complain about 10 or more minute waits, when our screens tell us they have only been waiting four or five minutes. Their actual wait was the four or five minutes that we track because this is when they first request our service, but their perceived wait begins the moment they pull into the parking lot and join the line because this is when they begin interacting with our business. While in line, they are experiencing pre-process wait times; after placing the order, they experience in-process wait times.

Establishments in the hospitality industry do what they can to cut down on guests' wait times. For example, theme parks offer services like Disney's Fastpass or Universal's Express pass in order to cut down the time waiting in lines so guests have more time to buy food and merchandise. Stores like Target or Wal-Mart offer self-checkout to give guests that in-process wait time. Movie theaters allow you to check in and get tickets on a mobile app and some quick-service restaurants let you place mobile or online orders. So why do people still get so bent out of shape about being forced to wait?

On Toy Story Land unboxing day, I witnessed a woman make a small scene about being forced to wait to exit the new land. Cast Members were regulating the flow of traffic in and out of the land due to the large crowd and the line that was in place to enter the land. Those exiting the land needed to wait while those entering moved forward from the line. Looking from the outside of the situation as I was, this all makes sense. However, the woman I saw may have felt that her wait was unfair or unexplained. She switched between her hands on her hips and her arms crossed, communicated with her body language that she was not happy. Her face was in a nasty scowl at those entering the land and the Cast Members in the area. She kept shaking her head at those in her group and when allowed to proceed out of the land, I could tell she was making snide comments about the wait.

At work, we sometimes run a double drive-thru in which team members with iPads will take orders outside and a sequencer will direct cars so that they stay in the correct order moving toward the window. In my experience as the sequencer, I will inform the drivers which car to follow, they will acknowledge me and then still proceed to dart in front of other cars just so they make it to the window maybe a whole minute sooner. Not only is this rude, but it puts this car and the cars around them at risk of receiving the wrong food because they are now out of order. We catch these instances more often than not, but it still adds stress and makes the other guests upset. Perhaps these guests feel like their wait is also unfair or unexplained, but if they look at the situation from the outside or from the restaurant's perspective, they would understand why they need to follow the blue Toyota.

The truth of the matter is that your perceived wait time is always going to be longer than your actual wait time if you can't take a minute to focus on something other than yourself. We all want instant gratification, I get it. But in reality, we have to wait for some things. It takes time to prepare a meal. It takes time to experience a ride at a theme park that everyone else wants to go on. It takes time to ring up groceries. It takes patience to live in this world.

So next time you find yourself waiting, take a minute to remember the difference between perceived and actual wait times. Think about the eight aspects of waiting that affect your perceived wait. Do what you can to realize why you are waiting or keep yourself occupied in this wait. Don't be impatient. That's no way to live your life.

Cover Image Credit:

Aranxa Esteve

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Dear White People, Your Racial Bias Is Destroying America

Ignorance lies in the heart of small towns, cloaked in whiteness and family traditions.

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Here's the thing… I don't like change. No, scratch that.

Change is good. It's often profound and necessary, even if it's uncomfortable at times.

What I hate are transitions: the movements from one frame of mind or life to another.

Our country is in transition. Nothing has really changed, and I think that is the problem.

It is so easy to blame today's racism on the Trump administration, launching more hatred on top of what already exists. However, while he's most certainly not my favorite president, he didn't create what is here.

He revealed it.

He appealed to a side of people that was often kept behind closed doors, which eventually emboldened people.

I watched a documentary on Netflix called "White Right: Meeting the Enemy." I watched it in an attempt to understand the other side. Having grown up in an all-white town and fairly racist community, I wanted to learn what truly draws people into white supremacy and extremism.

The documentary follows Emmy Award-winning Filmmaker, Deeyah Khan, a Muslim woman who follows different extremist groups to try to find the humanity in them.

And I was amazed to find that while the people in the documentary had some pretty scary ideas, they were kind to Deeyah and even began to change some of their own views based on their interactions with her. Some of them even stated that they'd never really met a Muslim or interacted with one.

Others declared that they fell into extremism because they had rough childhoods. It provided a sense of belonging, and it gave them power and control.

The overall message I got was that conversations need to be had, especially in areas without any diversity at all.

I grew up in a small farm town with zero diversity. I went to an all-white school, attended an all-white church and had no interactions with anyone outside my race for most of my childhood. We had a few children come to school who were adopted and of different races, but it still didn't provide much cultural diversity.

The first experience I had with a person of color was in college. And it was different. All I knew of African Americans was what I had seen portrayed on TV.

My parents always taught me that all people are the same and have the same value, no matter what they look like. But having grown up in a place where everyone looked just like me, it was hard to really understand the value in those lessons.

Thankfully, I attended an extremely diverse college and was able to make friends with lots of people from different cultures and backgrounds. I learned so much about the world through those friendships.

The summer after college, I began dating a Muslim man from Dubai. Bandar was brilliant and kind, easily the sweetest guy I had ever been with up until that point. But everywhere we went, people would stare at us and whisper. People would get annoyed with his accent, and my own friends made cruel jokes about me being a sister wife.

All my life I knew that racism existed, but I never saw it and certainly never felt it.

It was a tough experience, one that my 22-year-old self-wasn't really prepared for. I still can't wrap my brain around people's responses to someone I held in such a high regard — and still do.

Cut to 2017. I received a wedding invitation from a friend back home. At the time, I did not have a boyfriend but had briefly started seeing someone local. When I thought I might take him to the wedding, I RSVP'd for the two of us and sent the invitation back. My friend later reached out to check and see if he was white or black – as it would dictate where we would be seated.

It occurred to me that bringing home a man of color might raise a few eyebrows to my small farm town, but I didn't think it would actually be bothersome on a level that would change an entire seating chart.

Due to his work schedule, he couldn't attend the wedding – which I think was probably for the better.

While at the reception, I found my assigned table and sat down. After a little while, a woman across from me asked me "what kind of black man" I was dating (having apparently been informed a black man would be in her presence). What "kind"? Another young lady interrupted and stated she was asking if he was a thug. Immediately, I was frustrated and wanted to get defensive.

The question was absolutely preposterous. Was I supposed to let her know that he was a college-educated state police officer with a house and a nice truck, or should I have told her he was a thug just to see her reaction? The fact that people feel bold enough to ask these questions amazes me.

The world is full of ignorance. That's what it comes down to.

Just like me, people grow up in all-white communities and live their lives full of assumptions, never having interactions with other cultures or races.

This is exactly how bias is created. The media dictates who they interview after big events, what makes the news and how that story is portrayed. And it's almost always negative to black culture.

Bias kills unarmed black men and women.

It's that gut-wrenching fear that all black people are armed and dangerous. It's the desire to second-guess every black person that walks near you. It's the urge to lock your car doors when a black man walks by. It's what emboldens people to call the police on people of color for things like standing in a coffee shop.

Bias tells you that black people are dangerous.

What is even scarier about bias is that it is often implicit. It is so deeply ingrained that people often don't even know that they have it.

It comes out with even simple things, like showing surprise when you see a well-educated person of color – as if they can't achieve something like an education.

The only way to combat these underlying prejudices is to start talking.

Ignorance lies in the heart of small towns, cloaked in whiteness and family traditions.

Racial jokes become the thing you pass down to your grandchildren, as you're out on the tractor together.

People can only fear what they do not know.

In this day and age, staying quiet only makes things worse. Ignoring a problem doesn't make it go away. It teaches people that you think it's OK.

But let me say it for you: It's NOT OK.

None of this is OK.

We cannot live like this. I do not want more children to grow up this way.

If anything is going to change, it's going to have to start with YOU.

At some point, we have to stop arguing over All Lives Matter and understand that if that were really true, we'd all be working to make things right in this country. All of us.

Cover Image Credit:

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