What Those Ribbons Actually Mean

What Those Ribbons Actually Mean

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Standing in a show ring, sweating and determinedly trying to get your animal to cooperate. This is what many 4-H and FFA members spend a week out of their summers at a county fair doing just this. It is a tradition that runs in many of the families from their grandparents' generation.

I was one of those kids. I started late and my father did not show animals, so we had a steep learning curve. Or at least that was what i thought when I entered the barn, not knowing most of the people there, who, let's face it, had a lot more experience than my father or I. What I found shocked me.

I found people who were genuinely ready to help me and my father on this new journey. I had found a new sort of family. Yes, I have an amazing family that is blood-related, but from that moment I stepped into that farm, I was ensconced into a new family. One just as loving as my own, and one I know would absolutely help, not just me, but everyone that was a part of it.

Many people who are not in this family or a part of this community, seem to think that the only reason that children are interested in showing is for the ribbons and premiums and the cheque you receive after you sell your project.

But those people did not spend nine months raising a steer, teaching it to walk on a halter, or form a bond with it. Most of those people have no idea what it takes to gain the trust of an animal that is so much bigger than you, that could hurt you. These people do not understand that these kids have snuggled their steers, their lambs, and even pigs. They have spoken to their animals in times of loss and hurt and have found immense comfort in their solid and unassuming presence.

Those people also did not have the 'barn family' to lean on, they did not enjoy the laughter and the sense of belonging with people who understand how it feels to be a part of this kind of tradition, this way of life.

It is more than a ribbon, though they are nice reminders of my time in the organization that shaped my life. So I want to thank each and everyone of the family that I chose to be a part of as well as the one that I was born into, and I hope that one day, if I have children, that they get to experience what I did.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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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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Every Question You Have About The Stanley Cup Playoffs, Answered

The Stanley Cup is upon us and there are a few things you should know if you're tuning in for the first time.

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April is such a crazy time this year in the entertainment arena. With "March Madness" coming to a close, the Stanly Cup Playoffs beginning April 9th, "Game of Thrones" premiering its final season on Sunday, April 14th and "Avengers: End Game" premiering Friday, April 26, things are going to be insane all month long.

To kick things off, hockey fans everywhere are preparing for the Stanley Cup. Here are a few tips if you have no idea what the Stanley Cup is to make you look like you know exactly what you are talking about (even if you don't know anything about hockey in the first place).

1. What even is hockey, anyways?

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Hockey is a sport that is played against two teams on the ice. The players wear skates, use ice hockey sticks and play with a rubber disc called a puck. The objective of the game is to score on the opponent's goal. The game itself can be very fast paced, physical and it's very popular in the United States, Canada, Russia and Central and Eastern Europe.

2. Why do people care about the NHL?

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It is widely thought that the NHL (in North America) is the most admired hockey league in the world. As of right now, there are currently 31 teams in the NHL both from the U.S. and Canada.

3. What is the Stanley Cup?

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The Stanley Cup is named after Lord Stanley of Preston who was the 1892 Governor General of Canada. The shiny silver cup was purchased by him in London and he then donated it to award the top amateur hockey club located in Canada. The first winner of the Stanley Cup in 1893, was the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association (or MAAA). The cup has an escort (currently Philip Pritchard), who always accompanies it. The poor cup has seen its fair share of horror, including being urinated in by the New York Rangers.

4. So how do the Stanley Cup Playoffs work?

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Well, the Stanley Cup Playoffs usually begin the first few weeks of April and can go into the first week of June (depending on how fast each team makes it thru the four rounds of best-of-seven series.) There are eight teams from each of the two conferences and are in the tournament depending on how well they did during the regular season. Whoever wins the cup gets the claim to the trophy for the year.

5. What happens if a team wins?

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It's a really big deal to win the Stanley Cup. Basically, it's just a ton of bragging rights and being able to say that your team worked really hard to get there. Imagine working so hard to get that big promotion at work and you get it. It's a wonderful feeling but if you don't get it, well there can be some tears (and let me tell you it can be very sad watching hockey players cry.)

6. Who were last year's Stanley Cup winners?

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The defending champs, the Washington Capitals, are back in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year. Winning for the first time in franchise history, the Capitals hope to make a Stanley Cup Final appearance and win again. Since I was six years old, I have been the biggest Capitals fan so being able to be in Washington D.C. and watch them win was one of the best moments in my life (I am hoping for a repeat... but this year there are some really awesome teams.)

7. Who is predicted to win?

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Coming in hot with the most wins for the regular season and the team I have been calling to win since their loss to the Washinton Capitals during the third round of the playoffs last year, the Tampa Bay Lightning led by Steven Stamkos are the big favorites to win this year. Both the Calgary Flames and the Vegas Golden Knights are close contenders. I'm calling it now, though. The Tampa Bay Lightning will be hoisting the Stanley Cup in June.

8. Are there any underdogs?

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Out of all the teams (besides the Washington Capitals of course), I was really hoping to see the Carolina Hurricanes go to the playoffs. This team, who have become famous this year for their post-game celebrations, have really stepped it up. The last time this team made a playoff run was in 2009. It's really great to see a team who isn't normally in the playoffs competing. Although I can't wish them luck as they are playing against the Capitals in the first round, I hope to see them play next year.

9. So who should I talk about to make it sound like I actually watch hockey?

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Whenever I talk about hockey, people seem to like to quiz me on players to see if I really know hockey. A few players you should mention to people if they bring the Stanley Cup are as follows. Right Winger on the Tampa Bay Lightning, Nikita Kucherov, is on fire this season with 87 assists. I hate to be basic but Alex Ovechkin and the reason for him is that he is sitting at 51 goals, making this his eighth season to obtain 50+ goals a season.

Brad Marchand is a huge fighter, but the Boston Bruins would be lost without him. If you really want to piss a New York Islanders fan off, you just need to mention John Tavares name. Lastly, Brent Burns is one of the best defensemen and plays for the San Jose Sharks. He's got some pretty great locks of hair and a big toothy smile but he can play hockey like no other. Of course, there are so many other talented great players this playoff run, but these are just a few you could mention.

10.  I heard there are a lot of fights in hockey ... do you think I'll see one?

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Yes, fights happen in hockey all the time but especially during the playoffs. Tensions are high, but so are penalties. Tensions are especially high when a team is playing game four and if they don't win they are done. I have seen some pretty nasty fights break out during the playoffs and it's not pretty especially when it involves fans. Be prepared to see some fights break out and would not be surprised to see if Tom Wilson gets suspended again as he does every year (for no good reason) during the playoffs.

11. Why does the Stanley Cup Playoffs affect me?

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The Stanley Cup Playoffs are way more fun than a lot of other sports playoffs in my opinion. I saw this first-hand when the Washington Capitals won and how the whole city of D.C., Virginia, and Maryland came together (yes we see you bandwagon fans). It's a sport that's fast, exciting and brings people together.

May the best team win.

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