To the few folks who check my blog every so often, I apologize for being completely inundated by other writing obligations. Someday, I will certainly return and update. Until then, here is my happy holidays away message.
The young people around me, at least the majority, believe in a set of political concerns that they’ve been brainwashed into believing. I honestly feel these people have no real understanding of the things that matter in the world. For some reason members of the LDS faith have, over time, been misled into thinking Republicans share their values and actually care about their beliefs. I cannot look into the eyes of any single Utah politician and see anything but corruption, an agenda of self-preservation. These men embody evil, they have sold their souls.
The scriptures explicitly tell us to give to human beings in need, to provide equal chances and liberty to all, to clothe the naked, to feed the hungry, to shelter the homeless, to care for the sick and to provide amnesty for the marginalized. How do tax breaks for the rich adhere to these commandments? How does strengthening border security or increasing deportations adhere to these commandments? How does the greedy destruction of efforts to provide health care and social welfare to the needy and the sick adhere to these commandments? How is agency given by taking away or abolishing rights? How can anyone faithfully stand behind the Republican agenda?
I’m not saying Democrats are much better. At this point in history, politics in general have become a criminal occupation of our governing body. Our rights as an American people have been seized. The American Dream has been arrested and has been replaced with a nightmare. America has stood idly by as we have watched our freedoms dismantled piece by piece. When people finally start to protest these morbid crimes against humanity, Republicans criticize the protests as inane and ineffective. Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff suggested the protesters do what really makes a difference and go out and vote. I vote every two years, yet my voice goes unheard. Orrin Hatch, a man who thinks he is untouchable, a man who believes he can do no wrong, a man who seems to think he walks on water, in some sort of prophetic claim said these protests will inevitably end in violence. The violence that arises from any protest only occurs when a police state is imposed upon people who have acted on their First Amendment rights. Police cause this violence. Hatch and Shurtleff laugh at these people for standing up and trying to make a difference. How pathetic? Instead of criticizing these people, Why don’t you tell them you care, Mr. Hatch? Or is not caring about them something you’ll just repent for later?
How much longer will we allow ourselves to be the victims of these greedy, power-hungry villains of humanity? How much longer will we go without a voice? I cannot continue to watch my brothers and my sisters go hungry, go without shelter and go without the basic necessities of life. I cannot stand to watch spoiled-rotten, middle-class white kids who think they are well-enough educated on the problems of contemporary society to spout off at the mouth about why they think the Republican agenda is righteous. Why is this? Because you’ve heard your daddy complain about the black man who is our president talking about taking away daddy’s money?
Any person who claims the Republican agenda is righteous obviously doesn’t understand the scriptures and obviously doesn’t understand the life of Jesus Christ. I suggest to anyone who judges poor people, minorities or sinners to re-read their Holy Scriptures again. The word of Christ is simple. We are to provide for those in need, and do it without judgement. Republicans want to horde money and take away social programs. Jesus Christ was pro-choice, that’s why God made Him our Savior, and Jesus Christ gave to the poor, fed the hungry, clothed the naked and healed the sick.
The state of government in this country has reached an all-time low. Politics has devolved into such a criminal form of infringement and hindrance on progress in America that the current state of affairs is so abysmal, so disheartening that I am unable to muster any hope at all for the near future. As a people, as a public, as the American society, How are we supposed to hold our hands to our hearts and pledge allegiance to the “leaders” of our country, when all they do is fight for their own greed and power? Politicians have no concern for the general population of this nation. They merely desire power and money. The only time they speak with any passion about things that will inspire hope for positive change is when they are up for election. These are merely empty promises meant to evoke inside us the emotional response to go out and vote for them. And what is it they vie for power over? Their power is benign, and yet the impact their actions have on the health of our country is malignant. Politics has become a cancerous attack on the well being of America. The President has no power to carry out the promises he made as a senator and presidential candidate. The men and women who are supposed to represent the American public do not represent us. I am part of the proportion of people in Utah who are not represented by any political entity. I am a Democrat in and autocratic state. The crooked and corrupt men, who twist and manipulate the fallacious letter of law to serve their own greedy and evil agendas, in no way represent any of the things I as a man with morals and convictions stand for. I have no voice, and there are many people like me.
I haven’t posted anything on this blog for what feels like ages. I suppose I’ve just been too busy to make time to do so. When I do have spare time, I’m so overwhelmed with ideas for what I should be doing that I usually end up not doing anything at all. I’m glad to say, however, that I’ve been maintaining a prolific engagement in several other writing assignments. Simply put, life has become insanely preoccupying. Thanks to all the readers who make writing worth it.
I walk around every day alone in a world filled with people. I can’t move about the college campus without being inundated by bodies all around me. When I simply wish to go from point “A” to point “B” without having to avoid running into people I want nothing to do with, I can’t. I am constantly forced to dodge left and right in order to keep from knocking people off their feet. I have actually gotten to the point at which I feel that if people are not going to be careful, then I can’t care if I run into them. I used to worry about this sort of thing when I lived back East. But, back there it seemed that people were at least genuinely sorry if they bumped into you. Out here, I can’t say the same. There is this gross lack of concern for fellow human beings out here. I know people complain all the time about there being too many Mormons. I don’t think that’s my problem. My problem is that there are too many self-absorbed, selfish, ignorant, egotistical douche bags all over the place – and I’m sure they come from a wide variety of religious backgrounds.
After that tirade, I hope I’ve gotten the point across that I feel very alone, most of the time. I go to the movies by myself, often. I go to the store and go clothes shopping by myself, whenever necessary. I talk to myself – I don’t have conversations with myself, c’mon, I’m not that crazy – whenever I feel like hearing myself say something. I’m not saying this so the reader will feel sorry for me. You shouldn’t, and I don’t want you to. If anything, you ought to feel sorry for yourself. You ought to consider how overly self-absorbed a society we are all becoming. The world is getting to the point at which nobody talks to one another or cares about anybody outside their own group. Even then, if people had nothing with which to benefit you, would you really even care about them? I don’t want any specific reader to think I am targeting them. Perhaps, you truly are an altruistic Utilitarian who legitimately cares about their fellow men and women of the world. But, if not, you ought to look at yourself. I get sick of getting cut off by people multiple times a day because they’re behind the wheel of their over-sized SUV or pickup truck yapping away on their cellphone about how important their bullshit life is to the one person unfortunate enough to get caught bored enough to answer their phone while this dipshit is out driving around cutting people off without using their turn signal.
In this state of mind, I honestly believe I am not alone. This is why, as alone as I am, I still find it necessary to make a point of getting away from the daily nonsense of getting things done in life, in order to find solace in solitude. It was intensely satisfying to get in the kayak and get out on the middle of a reservoir and stare at the sun and the mountains and the birds while listening to some of my favorite sappy music on my iPod. When I am out there on the water, I feel anything but alone – I feel at one, all one and completely satisfied with my life. I look at the mountains that surround the (lake) and I think back to the paintings I used to make when I was a child. It’s pretty much the same image. I wonder what came first. Was I painting those pictures because I knew I would someday end up in a place like the one I envisioned, or did I end up here because I finally figured out how to fulfill my dreams? Either way, thank God. This must be a sign that I’m doing something right.
For a long time I’ve wanted to formally address the long, heated debate surrounding tipping for service in a restaurant. Already, with that first sentence, I’m sure I’ve lost several readers to pride, pomp, prejudice and ignorance. This subject – a custom that began almost 200 years ago – which, to many, holds a kinetic angst capable of fueling all-out battles, is a hot topic at many American dinner tables. I have personally been a principal participant in dozens of conversations about this. This subject oftentimes leads to high levels of contention. One time I was even snapped at by a self-righteous zealot who seemed to think she was incapable of sin.
For several years I was baffled by the fact that habitually bad tippers put so much focus and concentration into formulating an argument that [they think] justifies their scummy practice of ripping off hard working human beings. At first I thought it was all about greed or ignorance. Eventually I allowed this concern to whittle away at my hope for society’s future. For most, a lot of the issue is rooted in greed, but for even more the problem is more pathological. After talking with enough people about why they don’t believe in tipping – I wanted to see if anybody had a solid, morally-founded reason – I’ve realized that a lot of these people actually believe, deep down, that leaving a bad tip, or no tip, is completely okay. These individuals seem to have no problem at all going to sleep at night.
I can say, now, that the excuses are just as diverse as human beings, but I cannot think of a single one that holds any water.
Having been a server for over 10 years I experienced countless occasions when the people I waited on – I’ve waited on over 120,000 people – acted like I gave them the best service they’d ever received, but, when it came time to pay the bill [and subsequently leave a tip], they made things very awkward and looked at me with a hateful squint as if I was reaching into their wallets and stealing from them.
I would like to clear the air about this topic and affirm, once and for all, that anyone who goes into a restaurant to eat and receives good to great service and does not leave at least a 15 to 20 percent tip is, not only amoral but, a spineless criminal – and let’s face it, 15 percent is really cutting it close these days. Baby formula, diapers, rent and groceries are just a few of the necessities that servers work hard for that are not getting any cheaper in the ever-struggling world economy.
Unfortunately, a majority of the culprits in this crime against humanity are people who consider themselves Christians. Whereas it is not my place to judge you, I feel it is prudent for me to warn you that not tipping is very un-Christian. Just as I’ve listened to several fellow young Mormons describe their reservations about giving money to homeless people, I’ve also heard them say that they don’t need to tip over 10 percent when they eat at a restaurant. I want to remind you that the scriptures warn us not to judge a person in need [such as a homeless person] and that we should give to all who ask of us. I want to assure you that not all homeless people spend their money on drugs and alcohol. I’d also like to remind these same people that servers are not beggars. A lot of people treat them as such.
There is a difference, too, between the word server and servant. I’ve waited on thousands of restaurant patrons who had no problem telling me what they needed without any element of tact. I’ve been called names, I’ve been cursed at, I’ve been snapped at [NEVER SNAP FINGERS AT YOUR SERVER], I’ve had people fabricate stories about me and tell them to managers, I’ve been threatened, I’ve been sexually harassed – the list is endless. I’ve been completely stiffed several times too, which means I gave the best service I could under the customary, implicit agreement that doing so would result in an adequate tip, but then received no tip at all. Bad tips, no tips, and complaints are offered far more frequently than compliments and good tips.
I’m going to explain what customary means in lay man’s terms: It’s what people have been doing for so long that it is assumed that those who follow will do the same. Tipping is one of these customary practices. It is so customary that most states in the U.S. allow restaurant owners and operators to pay their servers a wage significantly lower than minimum wage. In Pennsylvania, where I began my history as a server, the wage for servers is $2.83 per hour. In Utah, where I ended my history as a server, the wage for servers is $2.13 per hour. In some states servers are paid higher wages to supplement their income in areas that have higher costs of living, such as California and Oregon. If, as a restaurant patron, you think you are smart enough to know these details, then you should also be smart enough to know that you have a moral and social responsibility to leave an adequate tip [15 to 30 percent]. These $2 wages are usually not even enough to pay a server’s taxes, which means in April when taxes are due servers are required to send a check to the IRS for the difference. Servers DO NOT get a paycheck 95 percent of the time; and when they do it’s usually under $20 for two weeks of full-time labor.
When I moved to Logan, Utah, I discovered a whole new breed of bottom-feeding, lowlife restaurant goers. The population here is so uniquely and exceptionally bad at tipping that many locals have admitted to me that the area is notorious for consisting of “cheap people.” It’s one thing if you genuinely do not know that tipping 15 to 20 percent is not only common but necessary. I would challenge that even those people should know better after going out to eat a few times. It’s another thing when you know all of the information I’ve just spewed and still insist that you’re right and I’m wrong. What would you do if Jesus was your server, or if you took Jesus out to eat? God forbid you would leave a bad tip. If you did, what reason would you give the Lord? The scriptures tell us we should treat everyone the way we would treat Him. So instead of thinking you know what a server is going to do with the pittance you make them grovel over, just assume they are another hard-working individual who is struggling to make a living. Don’t ever use the excuse that you don’t have enough money to leave a sufficient tip. I have no compassion for anybody who says this. If you can’t afford to leave a sufficient tip, then you can’t afford to eat out. Contrary to what Oprah Winfrey said, tipping 10 percent or less is NOT an acceptable money-saving strategy. Shopping at a grocery store within your financial limits IS an acceptable money-saving strategy. Going out to eat is not an alternative to learning how to cook, it should be for the experience of dining in a restaurant – and this experience costs money. Part of this experience is leaving a good tip for good service. One goes with the other and they should be inseparable.
I also suggest you’re very careful about how you gauge good service. Servers are human beings, not robots, not computers and not perfect. At any given time, a server is managing a dozen or so tasks while dealing with other guests, fellow servers, kitchen employees and managers all while doing their best to make sure your food comes out hot, right and on time. Don’t assume that you know what your server is dealing with. It’s one thing if you never see them, they have a bad attitude or smell like cigarettes. Contrary to popular belief, waiting tables does not just consist of taking a food order and bringing drink refills. Waiting tables is an incredibly tough job to master and until you do it yourself, and get good at it, you have no business being a strict judge of the service. If you’re eating in a restaurant hosted by a two-Michelin Star chef, then go ahead and be picky; but while eating at your neighborhood [insert restaurant name here] assume the server is doing their best to give you, and all of the other guests they’re serving at the same time, the best service they’re capable of.
I cannot iterate enough the FACT that bad tipping is synonymous with GREED, THEFT, CONSPIRACY TO COMMIT A CRIME [if you are with a group], MALEVOLENT AMORALITY, and SIN. So think twice next time you’re about to walk out the door and go out for dinner, “Do I have enough to tip 20 percent of whatever my bill is going to amount to?” If not, consider the McDonald’s drive-thru or a “Hot-n-Ready” pizza from Little Caesar’s.
If you or someone you know is a hard working server in a restaurant, or you have been at some point in time, please e-mail this or share it on your Twitter, Facebook or other social media sites to help educate the world on proper tipping. Thank you! Your server, Dan.
We are nearing the 11th hour, the time at which the mounting suspense builds within the minds of those concerned with the future of our once proud nation – a nation built on solidarity, freedom, patriotism, and glory. So far I feel nothing but shame and embarrassment for the state of our country’s leadership. Is leadership a word that even applies now? I stand, unfortunately, idly by, like millions of others who grew up being told that their vote counts, that this nation is founded on democracy – power to the people – yet the people have no choice but to helplessly watch politicians childishly bicker over semantics and minutia. No longer will a letter to a congressman, governor or especially the president ever be taken into consideration – that is of course if the letter is even opened or read. No longer do our votes really count, nor have they for a long, long time.
A decision that could have been made weeks or even months ago, to mitigate a problem that most likely could have been avoided completely years and years ago, had everything politics actually been done truly for the sake of the citizens of America. That’s where the problem lies: in politics. Politics has become merely a corrupt place for power-hungry men (and some women) who are filled with greed and pure evil to pursue their own agendas. In the media, issues of varying levels of importance, from not at all to possibly of concern to the entire nation, are played out using frames of strategy, sport, competition and battle. The focus of news stories is not, ultimately, what is going to be best for this country and which politician will do his best to honestly and diligently solve any problem he or she can? The focus of these stories is “Who will win the fight? Who’s going to look really good while making his opponent(s) look really, really bad? Who can squander the most money trying to win these fights? Who can out-bicker the other?” And so on forever until we all submit and give in the notion that none of this has anything to do with anybody’s best interest except for the stars of these morbid soap opera-like tabloidesque scenarios.
The Roman aristocracy arranged for entertainment to be provided for all classes of the plebeian and royal populations. The gladiators who fought in the Parthenon for the cheers of the crowd aided the those in power in keeping the citizens docile and distracted. As the fools looked on, no one took time to think about anything else than the gore and bravado they witnessed in the ring. Conversations were centered around the trivial and simplistic, while nobody talked about the government. Back then, though, anything said against the royal leadership would have been treasonous sedition. Democracy has always been a myth; it was then and it is now. Even if I were able to look the President or the Speaker in the face and tell them what to do, their answer would be simple. They would mutter some rhetorical nonsense about their future campaign hopes and how it’s not as simple as doing the right thing. Just as this blog post is a jumble of rants and half-finished thoughts, so is the legitimacy or efficacy of the American government a complex farce. The whole system is just a way of keeping 99 percent of the people in this country under the thumb of the top one percent while they rob us blind, lock us away and throw away the key.
By Tuesday, I’m sure some kind of last-minute agreement will be made regarding the solution to the national debt crisis. I can guarantee that it will be a really crappy Band-aid (it won’t cover the entire wound and it’ll fall off before anything is completely healed) and whatever is finally done will only be a way for both sides (Republican and Democrat) to get out of the scrap feeling like they can still eventually screw over the other later and ultimately win the next election. Just remember, average American citizen, what politicians do has nothing to do with you, me, or anybody either one of us care about. What politicians do is merely for personal gain of more money and more power. The devil himself has every one of them wrapped around his bony, scaled fingers and he’s sticking the middle one up at us.
If you eat a bad word, what happens? Do you end up with word vomit or diarrhea of the mouth?
I’m not sure if this is actually the case or not, but I do know that a couple of bad words have come out of my mouth over the course of time. I’ve argued, fruitlessly, with people regarding my philosophy on cussing – every now and then, it’s therapeutic to drop an f-bomb or substitute tears with swears. Am I right? Who knows? Does it feel better? Hell yes!
Ultimately, I admit that over time I have found interest in keeping my speech rating down to the PG level – but there was a time when I sounded like a scurvy pirate with an endless supply of Captain Morgan. Honestly, you couldn’t convince me that swearing indicates a lack of education or that you have a small vocabulary, because I don’t have a small vocabulary; I simply have a flair for the euphemistic vernacular that so colorfully and vociferously illustrates my tendency toward irascibility and agitation. Trust me, I am always sure to equally and unequivocally express those ever-desirable moments of sheer ardor when I experience them, too.
No, the reason I have tamed down the frequency at which I excessively expedite expletives is simply so I don’t alienate – and, rather, do ameliorate – my audience. However, I will warn you – if you’rearound when I accidentally break something or hurt myself, you’re going to hear about it. I promise not to dose myself with a maligned helping of mental ipecac in the presence of anyone with tender ears. From now on, I have vowed to talk like a Disney movie – without all of the sub-contextual sexual innuendo meant to keep the moderately educated, easily amused, carnal minds of parents entertained while sitting through yet another animated movie about an underdog animal whose mother (and maybe father) died, thus forcing said underdog to overcome evil (embodied by an ambiguously flamboyant super-villain boisterously driven by inexplicable malevolence) and save the world/achieve impossible heights of love and happiness and live happily ever after. No, I will keep the innuendo to a minimum (locker room humor has never been my forte).
I just want to say one more thing about cussing and then I’ll move on to the next topic. This has to do with the use – by my fellow members of society – and substitution of nonsense words for commonly used swear words. Examples of these are: “shiz, dang, shut the front door, sonofabeesting, etc.” These words may not be listed on the FCC or Motion Picture Association of America’s databases of taboo words, but they still evoke the same emotional response from the listener and invoke the same contextual outcome. When you tell somebody (and why we feel it necessary to announce this anyway is beyond me, but…) that you have to go to the bathroom, no matter how you word or phrase it, you are still saying the same exact thing. Perhaps this is not the best example considering the subject matter. I do know that The Bible has several swear words in it. One of the tamer ones – actually a phrase – is “pisseth against the wall.” Clearly conversations about excretion have been occurring since at least the days of Moses, and I’ll hazard to guess it’s been much longer than that. These conversations are used to purvey specific grammatical, contextual, syntactic, sympathetic or otherwise philosophical responses that we as humans take in, digest and spit back out in some other way, shape or form all in the name of communication.
So what does this all mean? I think it means that in the name of communicating effectively, some of us have stifled the flow of ideas by declaring that some words aren’t fit for airspace. Ultimately, I think that words are words. Why do some words make people cringe or result in the speaker achieving a certain level of societal opprobrium? I haven’t the foggiest. I will say, simply, this. Nobody’s perfect; but if you can speak it, spell it and put it in a proper sentence that forms a complete idea, then what the heck? Go for it!