For Emilie’s Sake: A Thanksgiving Wish

 

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Author Randolph Randy Camp at WBFO Radio with Reporter Eileen Buckley 

As we get closer to Thanksgiving my mind shifts to the young girl from Ohio who inspired me to take a closer look at those who might be sitting next to me at the dinner table. Her full name is Emilie Grace Olsen. I’d never met her in person but for the past two years I’ve been thinking about Emilie a lot. Sadly, her life story seems like a microcosm of our somewhat split personality here in America. An American couple graciously open their hearts and home to a young Chinese girl abroad, giving her a new life in America. That’s the beautiful side. Unfortunately, when young Emilie went to school (in Fairfield Township, Ohio) she experienced the ugly side of our American society.

Nearly two years ago, on a cold mid-December day, Emilie Grace Olsen ended her life with a gunshot to her head. She was only 13 years old. The bullying by some of her classmates and peers was too overwhelming for Emilie. Made to feel unwanted in your school is a terrible feeling for any kid. I think that Emilie’s story stays on my mind more so than other bullying-to-suicide cases because of her young age and because of the method she used. Statistically, we usually don’t hear about girls using guns to end their life. When I first got wind of Emilie’s story, near Christmas 2014, I was  in New York working on the manuscript for my upcoming novel and was stopped cold by the news. I remember just sitting in the chair, shaking my head in disbelief. And then I began to feel so useless and helpless, as if I could’ve somehow made some type of difference in Emilie’s tormented life.

Emilie’s story will always be on my mind. The way I look at Thanksgiving and Christmas now is different. Unbeknownst to us sometimes, those who partake in bullying others (kids and adults) throughout the year maybe one of those who sits at our Thanksgiving table. They may receive expensive and thoughtful Christmas gifts from us. Over the years, I’ve come to realize that bullying goes for beyond our school system. As we get older, we tend to give things a new name…but bullying is bullying, regardless of age.

For Emilie’s sake, let’s talk to one another and have a real conversation about bullying (in all of its different forms.) On this Thanksgiving and all days forward, for Emilie’s sake and for America’s sake, I hope and wish that we will start treating one another a little better than before. Enjoy your Thanksgiving Everyone. – Randolph Randy Camp

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America Exposed: A Call For Help

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Our young people need us more than ever right now. The recent election gave a true snapshot of the real America. All of our hidden, dark secrets and thoughts are now exposed to the world. Those who’ve harbored hatred and quietly belittled others at the dinner table or behind closed doors seemingly have been given the green light to carry these twisted, backward thoughts and ideas to another level.

So many people in America are feeling disenfranchised right now. It’s a terrible thing to feel uncomfortable in your own home, at your workplace, and it’s even worst when you feel uncomfortable and unwanted in your own country.

Already, we have a big problem in America dealing with the rising number of teen runaways and the issue of teen homelessness. It’s a growing issue that I feel passionate about but it hardly ever gets serious attention, especially at the national level. (See TEEN HOMELESSNESS by Justine Pedroza at https://prezi.com/gcen4hk_twcv/teen-homelessness/) Personally, I’m very concerned now about the negative impact that this recent election will have on our young people in America who already feel uncomfortable where they are due to their race or possibly due to their sexual orientation.

Due to the uncertainty of projected policies and the seemingly uncompassionate heart of our future leaders, this election will cause more anxiety among those who no longer feel welcome in their own home and in their own country, especially our young people who are still struggling to find their own identity. Within the next four years in America, youth homelessness will rise and we have to do whatever we can to try to curb it.

What can we do to help? If you have a teen drop-in center or a homeless shelter in your city or town, see if they need volunteers. Some cities may have a soup kitchen that feeds the homeless of all ages. If you can, lend them a hand or donate whatever you can, your time, food or clothing. Your compassion is greatly needed and will be greatly appreciated. If compassion is not flowing from our leaders, then we must make up for it in our own little ways. Let’s help the disenfranchised, especially our young people. Thank you. – Randolph Randy Camp

More at https://www.amazon.com/author/randolphcamp

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Remove The Labels

Author Randy Camp at East High School in Buffalo, NY

In response to my recent piece ‘Finding Happiness’, one of my readers sent me an email yesterday explaining that she’s having trouble finding her true passion because she feels “stuck”. I understand where Janice is coming from because I’ve been there as well. Janice went on to explain that she lives in a small town with limited job opportunities, and most of those jobs are low-level entry types.

One of my favorite quotes is ” Don’t let others define you — You define yourself.” Too often, we let our current job define us. We have to learn to remove these labels because we are much greater than our current job title. About a year ago, I wrote a piece entitled ‘A Janitor’s Dream’. Janice’s email gave me the notion to re-post it. Janice, and anyone feeling ‘stuck’, this is for you:

A Janitor’s Dream:

Regardless of what job you’re currently doing to pay your bills, support your family and yourself, always make sure that you’re also taking some time to nurture and cater to your own personal dreams and goals as well. Every day, in some form or another, we work and do things to make other people rich or happy, especially those who work within the service industry. What are you doing to make yourself happy?

Every day, we devote approximately eight hours toward someone else’s business or dream, indirectly making their dream a reality. How many hours (or minutes) per day are you devoting to your own dreams or goals?

Don’t let your day job define you. I understand that you must clean the toilets or bus the tables in order to pay the rent, but don’t let the designer in you, the artist in you, the executive in you, the inventor in you, or the store owner in you wither away or tire you out due to your devotion to someone else’s dream. Be the person you want to be. Define yourself! Empower yourself!

In my own personal life, I’ve cleaned many toilets, and I’ve been on various factory floors working on the assembly line. However, while I was cleaning the toilets or mindlessly checking the parts and products as they traveled along the conveyor belt, in my head I was simultaneously working out my characters’ dialogue for my manuscript, which I tirelessly typed up in the wee hours of the night, sometimes two or three pages on a good night.

No, everyone doesn’t know my name, but this janitor’s dream has come true. Today, I’m so very grateful to all of my fans, followers, and readers from around the world who have bought my books, read my articles, and recently made ‘False Dandelions’ one of my bestselling novels. From the bottom of my heart, thank you all. – Randolph Randy Camp

More at http://www.goodreads.com/randolphcamp

 

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Finding Happiness

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You ever met someone who appeared to be truly happy, the kind of happiness that comes from deep inside? I know people who’ve been searching for some inner peace for a long time. Personally, I think that in order to find your inner happiness you must first find your passion, and every day of your life you must take baby steps toward your passion and goals. Otherwise, as we grow older, we will become bitter and soon resent ourselves for ignoring our own dreams and desires. Yet, ironically, we spend most of our lives helping others achieve theirs.

I hope that each one of you will, from this day forward, begin to take baby steps toward your own dreams and goals….and eventually find your inner peace. – Randolph Randy Camp

More at https://www.amazon.com/author/randolphcamp

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The Data Hustlers

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Our cell phones have become a necessary commodity but the digital technology behind it maybe confusing to some people. When the CEO’s of our wireless carriers knowingly take advantage of this fact then that’s when I can no longer remain silent. As most of you are already aware, I grew up in rural Spotsylvania County, Virginia. Our family didn’t have a lot of money so I understand and appreciate the true value of hard work and earning a clean dollar. I will always try to lend a helpful voice to those who quietly go through life but is being preyed upon by individuals or corporations in the name of greed.

Have a friend ever told you to check out a cool music video or some funny video but you couldn’t because you’d reached your data limit? Here’s another scenario that goes on daily: Using her cell phone, a struggling single mother watches several do-it-yourself, YouTube videos on fixing a clogged drain because she can’t afford to hire a professional plumber. Halfway through the third video she gets a data usage alert on her phone alarming that she’s reached her data limit. She finds out later that she actually went over her data limit and the overage penalty fee was much more than the cost of the drainage treatment chemicals the guy in the YouTube video had recommended to unclog the drain. If this young mother had went to her local public library and freely watched the D-I-Y video on the desktop computer there she could’ve saved her data usage on her cell phone. This raises a lot of questions. Why does it cost so much for data usage on a mobile device? What’s the exact charge or face value of a byte of digital storage space? What’s the actual cost of a gigabyte and a megabyte? And are these charges the same for the mobile device and the desktop? Are there any rules or laws by which these cell phone carriers are basing their data fees and data charges on? Are the carriers correctly calculating our usage of megabytes and gigabytes? Is anybody double-checking them? I’m all for competition to open the marketplace but when the wolves and the hustlers get out of control then maybe it’s time to bring in the FCC to lay down some basic fair-play ground rules.

The faces of hustlers are changing. Today’s cell phone carriers are just as seedy as shifty ticket scalpers, walking that thin line between legal and shady practices. Naively, I used to associate the term ‘hustlers’ with fast-tongue street swindlers who made a fast buck on the backs of others. As a writer, I’ve even peppered a couple of my novels with these types of characters. In real life, a few years ago, Bernie Madoff reminded me that the most damaging hustlers are the executive-types, dressed in tailored suits and sitting behind big, glossy oak desks. As a stock broker and financial advisor, Bernie Madoff was sentenced to 150 years behind bars in 2009 for scheming his clients out of millions as they were unsuspecting victims of his infamous Wall Street Ponzi scheme.

Is Bernie Madoff any different than the current management and the CEO’s of our major cell phone carriers? Actually, this question is debatable. The following is a little backstory to help explain why I’m writing this piece:

Up until the early 80’s, the AT&T Corporation, also known as the Bell Operating Systems, controlled the telephone service throughout America and Canada. To stop this monopoly, between 1982 and 1984, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) forced AT&T to break up. This breakup created the “Baby Bells”, smaller telecommunication companies, which have developed into some of our major cell phone carriers today, such as Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile. The breakup of AT&T in the early 80’s created more competition within the telecommunication industry and intended to protect consumers from an unfair monopolizing giant. Is history repeating itself? Last week, AT&T buys Time Warner for $85 billion, and today’s “Baby Bells” are still walking that thin line between lawful and secretive, greedy practices, as evident in T-Mobile’s recent court settlement, agreeing to pay $48 million for misleading its customers into thinking that they actually had “unlimited data”.

Are there any honest, righteous CEO’s out there who are sincerely looking out for the best interest of the customers? To the average person, the world of gigabytes, megabytes, and digital storage space can be confusing, so, most often than not, when we get that surprisingly high cell phone bill, we obediently pay it but silently complain. Ideally, a good CEO will set the tone and the culture of the company, and hopefully will ensure that all of the company customers will have clarity of their phone bills and easy access to questions regarding their services.

Today’s top wireless carriers are today’s data hustlers, and we must let the CEO’s of these cell phone giants know exactly how we feel about their fees and overage charges. The mailing address of some of the top cell phone carriers CEO’s and the Chairman of the FCC are listed below. Don’t be silent. We can only bring about change if we make enough noise. Please Share and Re-post. – Randolph Randy Camp

  1. AT & T Corp., CEO Randall Stephenson, 208 S. Akard St., Ste 110, Dallas, TX 75202
  2. Sprint, CEO Marcelo Claure, 6200 Sprint Parkway, Overland Park, KS 66251
  3. T-Mobile, CEO John J. Legere, 12920 SE 38th St., Bellevue, WA 98006
  4. Verizon Wireless, CEO Lowell McAdam, 1 Verizon Way, Basking Ridge, NJ 07920
  5. US Cellular, CEO Kenneth R. Meyers, 8410 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Ste 700, Chicago, IL 60631
  6. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Chairman Tom Wheeler, 445 12th Street, SW, Washington, DC 20554

 

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Judge No One: The Picture Frame

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Who we choose to walk with in life has a big impact on who we are and who we may become. When I was coming up in rural Spotsylvania County, Virginia, one of my uncles went to prison for something that I honestly don’t remember, but what I do remember about my uncle is that, while he was behind bars, he meticulously made these beautiful picture frames from wooden matchsticks. Our uncle sent his handmade picture frames to certain relatives while serving his time, and I remember, as a child, being fascinated by the glossy shellac finish and the contrasting colors of the half-burnt matchsticks every time I walked by the multi-picture frame in our living room.

I often meet people who tells me that they feel somewhat ashamed of things in which they’ve done in their past, or that they may have people in their lives who are passing negative judgments on them based upon their past mistakes.

This is when I would share with them my uncle’s story because it shows how our life is a true journey filled with both good and bad experiences along the way, and that people will either choose to remember the bad things from your past or they can talk proudly about the positive things that you’re doing right now. And these are the moments in our lives also when we may have to decide to let certain so-called friends go because they could be the very person actually slowing us down as we continue our life journey. And if I ever I slip up and begin to get some crazy inkling to pass judgment on someone I’m immediately stopped by the memory of that shiny matchstick-picture frame sitting on the end table in the left corner of the living room. – Randolph Randy Camp

More at https://www.amazon.com/author/randolphcamp

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Life Lessons: The Tip

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The recent events in Dallas, Louisiana, and Milwaukee have got me thinking about my own experiences with race relations here in America. I remember one of my early experiences during my last year of high school in 1979 when I was working at Howard Johnson’s Restaurant in Fredericksburg, Virginia. I was a dishwasher/busboy at that time, and I’ll never forget this one particular waitress who would always say, “I hate waiting on colored people ’cause they never leave a good tip.”

In my naïve attempt to change this waitress’ attitude towards Blacks, one day I took three dollars from my own pocket (which was my gas money for my ’72 Pinto) and I placed it with the two nickels left by a Black lady who had a slice of pie and a cup of coffee. (Back then, of course, this tip was certainly greater the lady’s check.) I couldn’t wait to see the surprised look on the waitress’ face when she came back to the table to pick up her tip money. Minutes later, I’d learned a valuable lesson that day because when the waitress gathered up her tip from the table she turned up her upper lip in disgust while rubbing the three dollar bills against her short waitress apron, as if the bills had some type of ‘colored people germs’ on them.

Yep, that day I’d learned that some of our problems in America go far deeper than money. – Randolph Randy Camp

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