True Life: I sleep with stuffed animals

It's about to get real...

Since I probably won't get the opportunity to meet every one of my readers, shame isn't a factor here. This topic is rather embarrassing but is 100% me nonetheless, whether I'd like to admit it or not. 

Hello, my name is Anita Baffoni, I am 23 and I sleep with stuffed animals.

Laugh all you want. I bet that someone reading this post is in bed with their laptop and their stuffed animal(s) nestled next to them. I get it. I legitimately sleep with mine, every single night.   Here is my justification on why I think it is okay for a young adult to cuddle with fuzzy and plump little creatures, regardless of age.

Growing up, I didn't have any pets. Well, my family had a cat named Meesh (every Italian family calls any cat, for that matter, Meesh, its a cultural thing... I guess) but I was too young to have a deep connection with her. She died when I was little so I can barely remember 'our relationship'. Instead, my mom bought us stuffed animals that would be our bedside companions for basically our whole lives. She would  give names to all the animals and even go as far as having different personalities for each. For me, I love dogs. My twin sister, on the other hand, cats are her thing. It wasn't only us though, my brother (don't hate me bro) and older sister both had their fair share of cuddly characters. Till' this day, my siblings and I will always connect with any stuffed animal that crosses our path, either some gifted to our younger cousins or a lone ranger standing tall in a shelf of Valentine's Day gifts at CVS. 

Believe it or not, I still have my initial three stuffed animals (all dogs). You can walk into my old bedroom at my parent's and find all three laying on my bed. One of them was given to me shortly after birth, so yeah, it's a normal thing to have a friend-stuffed animal, to me.  I can confidently say that not one member from my immediate family would/could throw/give away any of our stuffed animals. They are a piece of us, at this point. Fast forward 20-plus years and nothing has changed. Instead, my boyfriend bought me a Valentine's Day gift that turned into a hearty investment, without him even realizing it. 

Over the past four years, a handful of stuffed animals have been purchased for gifts by my boyfriend, Jake. The first being Doodie, the over-protective, lovable puppy who thinks he is 10 feet tall when really he is a mere 10 inches. Second came Pickles, the loud and sassy Hello Kitty look-a-like who thinks she is a royal princess, that all of China happens to obsess over. Finally came Jingle and Jangle, a reindeer pair I purchased from a Build-A-Bear Workshop, as "slippers" for Doodie. Although the over sized pair barely fit my priceless pup, we embraced them as their own beings. They both always act like a bunch of wild hooligans, ALWAYS getting lost within sheets and pillows. Between the four of us, all of our relationships brought Jake and I closer together. Back at home, I can admire my family's love for their own stuffed animals. Even all of our significant others know of our hidden secret (it's not much of a secret anymore) and play along. I can honestly say I am blessed to have a loving family who can relate to my stuffed animal-loving personality.   

So what's the point of this post? Ladies, and even gentlemen, I understand your connection with stuffed animals. The thought of something being there with you through the thickest of waters means the most. Through the roughest of nights and happiest moments, my fuzzy companions will continue to keep me company and make me smile. Call me weird or childish, I'll take it. If that means I go to sleep happy at night, weird is nothing less than a compliment.

Tip Your Servers !

I've had a lot of jobs. A Dunkin' Donuts barista at three different locations, a babysitter,  a supermarket cashier/bagger/cart gatherer (which was so terrible on so many levels) and finally a waitress. For over five years now, I serve the best and worst of Rhode Island, most recently Providence. From the cheap, disrespectful, over entitled, verbal tipper-type customers, it never ceases to amaze me how rude people are. I could go on for hours about my love-hate relationship with the restaurant business so let me break down for you the basics in proper restaurant edict...

Here are the appropriate essentials while dining at a restaurant:
1.READ THE MENU. I know, ridiculous right? I have been caught up at tables while my section is slammed because customers are asking me what the difference between the burgers are. JUST READ!!!
2.Treat your server the way you would like to be treated. Like most college students, including myself, serving tables is inevitable.  The last thing we want to do is wait on a cranky, condescending customer after studying for finals. Screw off.
3.Tip your servers 20%. I can't say this for all countries, but in America, 20% tips are highly appreciated. Regardless of how bad the food is at a restaurant, I will never reflect it on the tip because it isn't the servers fault if the food tastes bad. We are taught to never question a tip but COME ON.... it is common sense people. Just double the first digit(s) and move the decimal over. Voila!

The fast-cash lifestyle is what intrigues people to the restaurant industry. When a large party gets seated in your section, CHACHING, you know the check will be large which would result, in a perfect world, with a 20% tip. Adding an automatic gratuity would ensure at least a minimum of 18%, but the option to leave more money was also available if the table was feeling generous. This is being changed now, starting the beginning of this year. Gratuity will now be factoring into the waitstaff's check, which means it will be taxed. For those of you who didn't know, servers make $2.89 an hour. This is the standard at most restaurants. Our checks are always/mostly voided because the taxed credit card tips doesn't cover the tax amount they expect from us. Waitstaff are "obligated" to claim their cash tips at the end of their shift for tax purposes but it doesn't always happen. So now, this new tactic through taxing gratuity will mean restaurants won't add it automatically to checks. So people, whip out your calculators on your smart phones and make sure you are tipping accordingly. DON'T FORGET, tips will no longer be included. I hope this rant helps the end of forgotten tips on a big table's check. An article was written to uncover the details of the new law.  Click this link to explain it further.  (The picture above is from the article)

Anyway, I love what I do. You have too because your life becomes engulfed in the lifestyle. Serving can be considered a way of life. You start thinking like a server while dining at other restaurants. I find myself stacking plates at the end of my meal because I know it makes it easier for the waitstaff.  Pay it forward. Or I will get the terrible "in the weeds" dream (any server knows what I am talking about). I am paying my own college education because I did not come from an extremely privileged family. Coming from the now diminishing middle class, we were fortunate growing up, however, I would never expect my parents to pay for a $50,000 college education. Not only would they be paying for me but for my twin sister, older sister and older brother. (Here's a picture of the family at my twin and I's URI graduation, including my incredible grandmother who is 92!)

To bypass the stresses of the industry, you have to love your job and your fellow employees. I believe by having a good relationship with your colleagues, it will make your shift pleasurable. Of course, you are bound to dislike or have disagreements with some co-workers but make the best of it. During my restaurant's busiest season, I organized a Harlem Shake video with the whole front of house staff and managers at the end of a staff meeting. Check out the video that I posted below, it is rather amusing. (I am to the right with the green tutu). The moral of the story, be respectful and courteous because after all, we are serving your food. Not all servers are the best at their job but if you like your service overall, please tip accordingly.

*end rant