My truth

New age in journalism holds the media accountable

President Trump’s presidency has been label as controversial, skewed, unorthodox, and polarized. Whether its a dubious tweet, Congressional hearing, cabinet appointment, firing, or state visit, the media has been there. Holding the president, his cabinet, and his party accountable every step of the way. In an age where many news organizations and outlets have started to downsize, developments within the new administration have created a demand for investigative journalists, fact checkers, and other support staff at some of America’s most illustrious news organizations. But, amid their investigations and reporting, who is keeping the media accountable?
Our First Amendment right as American citizens should never be taken for granted. Since the inauguration of President Trump in late January, many inside and outside of journalism feel that our ability to exercise First Amendment rights has become compromised. The result: media’s devotion to covering every story that comes out of the West Wing.
Thus Far, journalists have worked overtime to hold Trump and his administration accountable on a variety of issues that include promises made during the 2016 campaign, health care reform, Russian meddling in the recent election, American foreign policy, and tax reform. But is the media doing all they can?
Great political theorists such as John Stuart Mill, Edmund Burke, Robert Dahl, and John Locke champion the media as the true promoters of Democracy; holding all branches of the government accountable to their word for all of the its citizens. During his campaign, President Trump ran under the now popular slogan, “Make American Great Again.”. People from America’s heartland turned out by the thousands to hear his messages and promises. The media covered it every step of the way but neglected to go deeper and capture the voice of the people living in rural America. The problems that they have been having, some, for generations. In the 18 months leading to the election, much was heard of voting projections from large urban centers like New City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston. We heard political analysts from former administrations, think tanks, and advocacy groups make calculated opinions based on polls and data. Projections that pointed heavily in the favor of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. We heard little about the needs, wants, and desires from the people of Knox County, Ohio, Wexford County, Michigan, or Levy County, Florida. Many argue that we were startled by the results of the election because the media failed to capture the voice of rural America who voted resoundingly for Donald Trump.
For weeks, dissatisfied Americans pigeonholed Trump supporters as
uneducated, racist, and out of touch with what is best for the American people. This may or may not be the case, but that is not the point here. The point is that the media must strive to grasp the voice of all Americans.
Thus far, Journalism has responded positively, reporting with relentless vigor. The media is quick to catch the president in a lie or document drama unfolding in the White House but, there could be more done to hold the Oval Office accountable for their promise of “Making America Great Again”. In Knox County, Ohio, high school students learn with outdated textbooks and calculator shortages. Providence County, Rhode Island is facing a deadly fentanyl/ heroin pandemic. Countless roads and bridges from California to Massachusetts go without repair. President Trump has pledged $1 trillion towards infrastructures and services to make America great again. From CNN to NBC, FOX to ABC it is essential that they continue to catch the president in every lie, tweet, or controversy. To hold tight to the ideals of Mills, Burke, Dahl, and Locke it is important that journalists go the extra mile to capture the voice of all; to hold the president accountable for the entire nation. Venture out. Go to the places that won President Trump the election: The places that believe in his message and see if he is holding up his end of the bargain.

Experiences in the restaurant industry: The good and bad

I have worked in restaurants and nightclubs since the age of 18. The hospitality industry is the best place to make money fast. It is also the best place to study the human condition: A perfect lesson for any sociology, psychology, or behavioral studies class. By studies, I do not mean the customers, although they do provide ideal insight. What I am referring to is the 100’s of restaurant workers that I have encountered over the years; high school students earning a paycheck for the first time. Immigrants looking to send money back to their home countries. Thirty-five year old bachelors looking to still feel young. Single mom’s looking to make ends meet. All of them have a story. They all have a motive.
. My experiences in Washington D.C. and Rhode Island reflect the good and bad of the restaurant industry. Proper leadership is essential for the success of a restaurant. I have experienced management that is ideal, others that are not. I have had managers who not only lead by example, but go the extra mile to ensure customer satisfaction and workforce happiness. On several instances I have witnessed managers compensating workers who went the extra mile during a shift. Managers who have offered their homes to workers that need a place to live, Owners that have paid for Ubers and taxis for their dishwashers at 3 A.M so they would not have to walk home.
I have also witness the ugliness that the restaurant industry attracts. In one particular instance I witnessed a manager making anti-Semitic comments regarding the gratuity left on a customer’s bills. Another manager displayed behavior detrimental towards the clientele and workforce as he has alienated foreign workers based upon their names and heritage. In another instance, a manager laughed when an employee was working ankle deep in hazardous and unhealthy conditions when a blocked grease trap backed up sewage. Unfortunately, managers like this create an environment that is unpleasant to work in.
My tenure as a restaurant worker has exposed me to some of the hardest workers I have ever met. Unfortunately I have met some of the laziest too and while many of my co-workers are the most compassionate and caring people I have come to know, I have also met some of the most dishonest and corrupt
. I have had the privilege of working with immigrants and exchange workers from Latin America, Europe, and Asia. In D.C, a 50 year old gentleman from Honduras worked an 18 hour day alongside his 19 year old son to earn a living. Not only was this man hard working but compassionate, as he has offered me lodging and food after long shifts. I have seen waiters give busser extra money out of appreciation for the hard work that they put in on a given night.
On the flip side, I have seen a my share of misguided, morally corrupt workers who use the restaurant business as an avenue for laziness and selfishness on their road to making a quick buck and using a business as their own personal liquor store. Stories of a bartender stealing a $2,000 dollar bottle of cognac, waitresses that charged their own food on customers’ bills, workers that show up two, three hours late with no repercussions. I experienced a particular instance where a bartender broke a bottle in front of me, only to leave the bottle untouched, glass shattered on the floor, to have a smoke break – this entitlement and disregard comparable to an 8 year old making a mess. Perhaps even less mature, as the 8 year old would at least attempt to hide his or her mess.
Undoubtedly you find all kinds in the service industry. You meet people that you build everlasting relationships with, while other people make you wish you had never met. As I venture into my late 20’s, I will continue to work in the restaurant industry as a source of income and undeniably will I will be sure to come into contact when many more people and witness many more experiences.

Wisdom has no formula, it’s a journey

Being 25 isn’t easy. Especially when you’re living in Washington D.C. and competing for the same jobs that 10’s of thousands of other young professions are competing for – all while working full time and pursing a Master’s degree.  Yes, it seems as though I have been dealt a particularly difficult hand. Not to be cliché, but I have been given a full house. Through bills, rent, studies, grades, loans, work, and relationships, I have been given a series of growing pains, experiences that have led to a number of valuable lessons  attributing to my new found wisdom.

The first lesson that I have to those graduating from college or setting out on their own is to take a chance and become financially independent. I come from a upper-middle class family. I could ask my dad for a loan or have him pick up the rent. Yet, how would I grow? Being able to barely pay the rent, eating taco spice on a fajita wraps for dinner a few times a week, or walking 2 miles to school – all comes with the territory of me making it on my own. I continue to hear stories of young adults getting help from their parents by paying the rent, picking up credit card tabs, or buying them vacations. I am sorry but this is not how the real world works. Entitlement can only last for so long. Eventually it’s time for us to grow up.

The second lesson is to work like a dog. Work as much as possible because, it not only will provide you with financial security, but a sense of accomplishment. Trust me, you won’t be at your dream job and you will have to work odd jobs to get by. Since I graduated college in 2015, I have been everything from a busser to a bartender, a gym custodian to an intern and even with graduate school; I made it a personal goal of working 55 hours a week or more. It might seem like too much for you. You might feel burnt out. But you will amaze yourself on how much you can achieve in a week. The feeling of not having enough time will be overshadowed by a sense of personal distinction and achievement because you propelled yourself through adversity – if we do not feel discomfort in life, then we probably are not living it right.

The third lesson is to possess an edge. For years I classified myself as a hard worker who was too nice to stick up for myself. Time and time again, people would take advantage of me. If you work hard wherever you are, whether it’s a news studio, restaurant, or law firm. If you believe you deserve more attention, respect, or compensation, handwork and sticking up for yourself makes things happen. In the event that nothing changes, you still win as you took the time to develop a voice.

Despite possessing an edge, it is still important to exhibit compassion and empathy. Some months ago, I was having drinks with a co-worker. During our discussion he stated that he allowed time and circumstance to numb himself from other people’s stories. Through this discussion, I realized the importance of never losing sight of other people’s perspectives. By listening and appreciating others, we realize that our present circumstances may not be that bad.

The last and most important piece for young professions is to beat to your own drum. Washington D.C. is a quintessential case study of people trying to fit into a mold. Its competitive nature to dress to impress, striving to form everlasting social circles, and making connections leading to future employment. I hate to admit it, but I sometimes do not dress to impress, my circles might not be the most extravagant, and maybe I could have made one or two more connections or phone calls that will lead to future prospects. In no way am I preaching to fight the system -just do all these things with your own element of swagger and never loss touch of who you are. I have met many others my age that hate what they are doing because they think they have to fit a mold. I have met many that have no idea what they want because they have been told their whole lives what to do. I am 25, and might be a little late to the game in terms of developing my passion, yet, in my opinion, I feel light years ahead of those who are miserable at what they are doing with their lives or worse off, too ignorant to realize what they want out of life. The biggest piece of advice that I have received while pursuing a career in media is to “find my own voice”. I have felt this way for a long time and this is the perfect venue to express my words.