Dear America–Love, A Fast Food Worker


“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we alter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” -Abraham Lincoln

14720533_10211380730578855_170289470852994294_nWe’re driving the South Carolina back roads. He’s telling me all sorts of things and I’m listening, shuffling through Spotify, watching the blurring trees, feeling all kinds of alive.

“Yeah, your great-grandpa, Blev, used to tell me about living during the Depression,” he says, thoughtful.

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah. He says Grandma Polly used to bake pies and she’d always leave it on the window to cool with a butter knife near it, so if anyone was hungry they could just get a piece.”

“Really? And did they?”

“They did. But they’d only take one, see. That sort of thing wouldn’t happen today.”

“Ohhh, no.”

-DEEP SIGH.-

Keep that story in mind as we fast-forward.

It’s 2016 and I’m the great-granddaughter of a great man on a much different page in American history where everything is different. I’m working as a manager in a fast food restaurant and it’s a crazy night with a very popular coupon that is nowhere in our system. And I’m up to my eye balls, trying to help the team members calculate coupons and refusing to leave the fifteen-year-olds to fend for themselves. I’m helping one of the team members and watching out of the corner of my eye, uneasy, as another customer stands by, looking unhappy and tapping a foot. I look up, say, “I’m sorry for your wait. I’ll be with you in just a moment.”

She throws up a hand, tosses a look at her husband beside her. Finally we figure out the five coupons for the group in front of us and I slide into place behind the first cash register.

“Yes ma’am?” I ask, cautiously, “What can I get for you guys?”

A raised eye brow as she lists off what she wants, but one look and I know she’s still dissatisfied. I muddle through the order, ask questions, and hand them their cups, “We’ll get that right out to you guys. Hope ya’ll enjoy!”

They saunter off to a booth and I sit back, relieved that the tension is gone. Until five minutes later, it’s not. “Hey Mandie,” a team member approaches me, “We can’t find this order. . .and this couple says it isn’t theirs. . .” She looks helpless.

Great. I take the tray and look all over for the customer, asking the couple from a few moments before if they ordered two cheeseburger snack packs. “We didn’t order no cheeseburgers!” the woman snaps, throwing up a hand to her face and shaking her head violently when I say, “Okay, let me figure this out. . .I think they must have mixed up the numbers. I’m so sorry.”

It was back and forth with the kitchen when the woman approached the counter, irritation written all over her face. It wasn’t that I misunderstood her perspective–it was that she misunderstood mine. It was that she had no desire to understand mine. We finally came to the conclusion that the food on the tray was in fact theirs, but she demanded a remake, “That food has been all over!” And in the end, she got a remake in addition to free baskets in the future while I excused myself to the back because I needed a moment.

I sat in the office and let the tears stream down my face. Five minutes and I couldn’t find the will or the desire to face them. To face the dehumanization infringed upon me every time I slide my tie into place and adjust my hat simply because mistakes are made in my business. Because sometimes we get it wrong. Because sometimes people wait an extra few minutes on fries or a milkshake. I let it all pass and stood at the sink, gripping the edges. Honestly, I was angry, indignant, and overwhelmed all in one fell swoop. And it took me taking off my hat, staring at my reflection in that paper towel holder to remember I was human. I was very human. And I was still alive, still me.

And to be honest, since beginning as a manager in a restaurant I’ve discovered what I believe to be the true issue with the country I love so dearly. Because situations like the above occur all the time and no matter what you do, how hard you try, you can’t stop it from happening. So you learn to deal. The main issue with America isn’t Trump and it isn’t Hillary Clinton. It isn’t abortion or the wage-gap or climate change or the vast difference between Republicans and Democrats. No, work with the public in any capacity and see it for yourself: entitlement, narcissism, dissatisfaction, high standards with no leeway, blame-shifting, lack of empathy for fellow human beings, etc. All this out of the nation where pies were left in open windows. This is America crumbling before our eyes.

All this out of the nation where pies were left in open windows. This is America crumbling before our eyes. 

The fact of the matter is, most people aren’t happy. Blame commercialism, blame lack of community, blame corporate America, blame religion–I don’t care who you blame because all that really matters is that it’s happening. Most people aren’t building lives anymore. They’re just existing, placing happiness in the latest technologies, the highest-paying companies, the best-connected people in their circles, the materials accrued. And I think that’s why my generation walked away from traditional American values and from becoming family-oriented individuals–because we found the disingenuous writing scrawled all over the walls. Wake up, America.

But what’s appalling is that everyone seems to be either looking back or looking forward. Either the country’s too different from 1952 or the country hasn’t changed enough and they can’t wait for 2040 and whatever they think is waiting there. This attitude is a disservice to America. The past is behind us. The future is in front of us. But neither are much help in the here and now. We are the builders, the dreamers, the thinkers. It is up to us to not give into this new identity pressing in on every side. It is up to us to not lose hope or to believe our voices mean nothing. The way we take back our country depends on what we do with the power they say we do not have. We have it. And it scares them.

We are the builders, the dreamers, the thinkers. It is up to us to not give into this new identity pressing in on every side. It is up to us to not lose hope or to believe our voices mean nothing.

The answer to how will America end up? In my opinion, it’s quite simply lodged in a question. . .

How will we leave it?

How will we impact our families? Our friends? Our communities? For good or for bad? Will we continue the parade of negative comments, strung along article after article? Will we continue to take everything we have for granted? Will we continue the dehumanization of anyone who doesn’t fit this image that the media has built? Mainstream media, America, is only as powerful as we allow it to be. Quit reading what they say. Quit listening to what they’re saying. Unplug. the. computer. Find out on your own. Build on your own.

Trump will destroy America, they say. Clinton will destroy America, they say. No. They don’t have that kind of power. If we are destroyed, the blame will be on the shoulders of every American sitting back and losing hope, believing this lie that there is nothing to be done. I won’t be a part of it any longer. There is everything to be done. There is everything to hope for.

My ancestors are varied. They are of Swedish, English, Germanic, Irish, Welsh, and even Cherokee descent. I am standing on their shoulders, on what they built for their descendants. And I am imploring you not to walk away. I am imploring you to come back. I am imploring you to fight.

I don’t know what you will decide to do, America. But I will keep hoping no matter who wins in November. I will keep doing the best I can with the decisions laid out in front of me. And I will keep pressing into my faith, into my family, into my friends, and into my community. Because it starts with me and what I choose to build.

And it starts with you too, America.

 

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Campfire Chat: Without Borders.


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“That’s what storytellers do. We restore order with imagination. We instill hope again and again.” -Saving Mr. Banks

Hey, hey, readers!

Today I wanted to kind of clear up a few misconceptions about personal blogging, particularly when it comes to my blog, and discuss the general trajectory of Not Your Average Coffee Bean. So grab a coffee and cop a squat, kids!

I’ve been pretty quiet on most levels of social media lately. And that’s fully my bad. I think sometimes when I know I have important work to do, I kind of shut down and do nothing. That’s a fight I’ve had so far and that will probably continue. But I know that I want to write–I know that’s what I’m here to do, so I’m trying to breathe VERY deeply and let my prayer be this…

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders.”-Hillsong

I mean, snap. Without borders. Few people realize this about me, but I’m actually pretty insecure about my writing. There are just so many words I want to say and so many things I feel and I WANT PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND. To be there with me. And that’s where the deep, honest writing comes from: having this constant desire to be understood. Not necessarily seen, but understood. And oftentimes when I publish a blog post, I sit around tapping my fingers and checking Facebook every ten seconds.

DID THEY SEE IT.

DID I POST IT AT THE RIGHT TIME.

DO THEY LIKE ME.

DID I SAY IT RIGHT.

NO ONE LIKED IT. OH NO IT’S AWFUL.

But what if. . .I kept writing real, honest posts. . .but had peace in who I am and what I’m saying? What if I walked with Jesus as much as I talk about Him? Can you imagine what that would look like? Writing and living like that opens doors and effects change. Man. That’s the writer I want to be.

That’s what I’m working towards. But I don’t think many of you realize quite where I’m wanting to take this blog or why I’m even blogging in the first place. So here are three myths along with the perspective in regards to Not Your Average Coffee Bean and an action plan to keep you up to date! If you have any questions or advice, please comment or email me at manderssss22@gmail.com.

(Lord, help me to not suck at replying. Amen. Praise hands. All that.)

Myth #1: Reading personal blogs is kind of like reading someone’s diary. . .

Not Your Average Coffee Bean perspective: Oh honey. You couldn’t handle my diary. If I’m posting something on the internet, let alone SOCIAL media. . .read it. I want you to read it. I wrote it thinking of you or even just wanting you to understand something about me.

Myth #2: Sharing someone’s post is just so awkward. What if I’m crossing a line?

Not Your Average Coffee Bean perspective: THIS THOUGHT IS THE BANE OF MY EXISTENCE. I want you to share, share, share. My goal is to be an author and this blog is one of the methods I’ve chosen to expand my audience so that when a book is born there will be people to read the book. (Other than my mother.) My personal belief is that my product is the writing I do and I’ll never get to where I want to go if I just sit in a basement like a creeper and write prose that no one ever reads. And to be honest, I need you. I can’t grow as a writer without you reading, providing feedback, and sharing.

Myth #3: No one wants to read posts that are stories. I can’t share that because no one else would be interested.

Not Your Average Coffee Bean perspective: Look. Storytelling is my profession. That’s what I’m here to do and it’s the only way I know how to say, “Everything is going to be okay.” And I’m here to tell you that. So if one of my posts reaches you, there’s a solid chance it will reach someone else on your newsfeed too. Don’t be afraid to post things that are on your heart because there’s always someone in the dark who needs to be shown little patches of light every now and then. Even if you don’t resonate with anything I say, I hope I at least encourage you to share your own story. Storytelling saves lives. Even the gospel, the greatest story told, is in storytelling format–it’s not salvation in three easy steps or a list of things to do. It’s there to say, “I love you. This is what I did for you. Come home. Drop everything and trust me.”

As for the future of this blog, I hope that Not Your Average Coffee Bean goes places. I hope it reaches people. I’ve begun the process of being an affiliate blogger, so you’ll be seeing new ads on my blog. But my goal is to keep everything on track with the voice I’ve already developed and keep my blog clutter-free. My second goal is to increase traffic by using social media to engage other bloggers and readers, which is a little daunting with all the info out there. But onward and upward!

. . .I recognize that I’m a dork. . .

And finally, my third goal is to get to the point where I’m posting three times a week. For now I’m lucky if I get one post in a week, but I’m in this writing thing for life and there are always, always things to improve.

Finally, what would you like to read about? Please comment below or send me an email. All suggestions are more than welcome!

As always, thank you for reading. ❤ ❤ ❤ <—I love you enough to do cheesy 2010-style virtual hearts.

-Mandie

 

F O U N D


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I found my voice in brambles and thorns,
It sat in deepest forest, buried low,
I heard it crying, though no one was around,
It sobbed and fought the silence,
But no one heard a sound,
I sat there and I listened,
Though not for me it cried,
Nor for the life I had,
The rain came soon and its cries grew,
They grew until it was silent-
Fear and pain the only melody it knew.
Suddenly I had no choice,
I rose.
And dug it out of the mud,
I turned it in my hand, saw how it fit,
How could something fit so well,
But hurt so bad?
I tucked it away and whispered,
If nothing else, I hear you,
If nothing else, I won’t leave,
If nothing else, we’re together,
If nothing else, you’re found.
And so, in brambled wood we sit,
Making nothing but our sound.
-Amanda Russell