Dear graduates: Your bedroom may already be a patio

image To this year’s graduates:
As you cross the stage to receive your diploma, remember that you’re crossing a brand new threshold in your young life. That’s because, in most cases, your parents have already arranged for the contents of your room to be hauled onto the front lawn and sold, probably during the graduation ceremony itself.

Or maybe even AT the graduation ceremony itself:

“Before we call our next graduate, I’d like to turn your attention to the roller blades I’m wearing. They, along with other items belonging to Billy Schlependorf, will be available for purchase after the ceremony in the courtyard…”

That’s right. By the time you get home, you’ll be lucky if you’re room still has the same light switch. I know this may sound harsh, but it is something that parents do out of LOVE. It’s about your parents helping you make that important transition into independence, even if it means turning your bedroom into patio space between the new hot tub and gazebo.

I know it’s hard to believe, but that’s how much your parents are willing to sacrifice in order to help you find your place in the world — which, by the way, doesn’t include living in the attic, basement or any of the utility closets. This means finding a job. Something that will allow you to apply the cumulative knowledge you’ve acquired through years of higher education. It means competing in today’s tough job market against like-minded graduates.

It means, in many cases, a career in the food service industry.

For those who might be contemplating this opportunity (or who might be wearing a hair net at this very moment), keep in mind that some of the world’s most successful business people got their start in the food service industry. And keep in mind that just because I can’t think of any right now doesn’t mean it’s not true, because I’m pretty sure I read it somewhere. Really.

Okay. Fine.

I’m a big fat liar.

It doesn’t mean that working in fast food can’t be rewarding. In fact, ask any journalist, and they will tell you that there’s nothing more rewarding than being a fry cook. To prove it, I’m going to stop writing at this very moment and pose this question to each of my fellow journalists here in the newsroom…

You see?

Just as I expected: every reporter I talked to agreed that there is nothing more rewarding than being a fry cook! [Editor: Please note that you are surrounded by big fat liars.]

So, what does all of this mean exactly?

For you graduates, it means taking your first steps into the world on your own. As you do, I’d suggest you stop by that table in the court yard.

You never know when a cheap pair of roller blades might come in handy.

(You can write to Ned Hickson at, or at the Siuslaw News at P.O. Box 10, Florence, OR 97439)

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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

42 thoughts on “Dear graduates: Your bedroom may already be a patio”

  1. I started in the service industry right after high school. Now, 10 years, two college degrees, and zero job opportunities or promotions later…

    I’ll finish that thought after I finish this beer.

  2. When I got my masters, Bill Cosby gave the commencement address. His title was “Don’t Go Home.” He said something to the effect that after paying for a college degree, the last thing your parents want to see is your broken down jalopy (sp?) on their black top.

    1. Ha! That’s awesome. I remember him talking about how he believed our memory is located in our butt because, after you get up from your chair for something and immediately forget what you got up for, you only remember what it was once you sit down again. By the way, my oldest daughter is graduating from high school next week… um, yikes…

  3. My very fist job was at Pizza Hut at 16… I feel like working at a fast food joint is just a way to pay your dues in society, lol (or so I like to tell myself). My hair was always so greasy from all the cooking ewww.

            1. I was a late bloomer too. Never dated in high school and got my first kiss when I was 19. Didn’t have my alcoholic drink until I was 23. I’ve been making up for lost time ever since 😉

  4. I wish there were two like buttons on this thing. Heavens sakes alive…I have two just graduated NCSU (GO PACK!). And one is graduating high school and heading to college. I scream, “When will all of this BS be over”? Really Ned. Really.

    The garage sale is in the middle of the front yard during the BBQ after next weeks HS graduation. No invitation needed. Just show up. Free BBQ.

    1. Lol! My oldest daughter is graduating from HS June 8, so I will have my own yard sale going on. I’ll tell you what: I will send you gumbo in exchange for some of your barbecue.

            1. Hahaha! True Southerner! Sorry, can’t stand okra. Even though I lived in Georgia and Texas for 15 years, I never built up a tolerance. If you want to secede from our food union, I will understand (..rebel) 😉

              1. 1). You spelled okra wrong. I knew you didn’t like it.
                2). If you like NC BBQ-you like vinegar and standing over a pit of open hawg. Yeah man. I say that cause its beer in one hand and pork in the other. No plates. Just all hands.
                3). We should join forces on June 8. Larger yard sale=larger masses=larger payout.
                4). I’ll add in my own okra. Not oakra. City folk.

                1. HAHA! I can’t believe I spelled okra wrong… That’s how much I dislike it! I must’ve made 2,000 gallons of okra-laden gumbo as a chef in Georgia, watching it sort of slime together with the Andoullie sausage way too many times. I’ve cooked a few pigs in the ground, and I DO love that smell of smoke, vinegar and heady beer. If my recipe wins the firefighter cook-off in two weeks, I’ll send you the recipe. Feel free to add the okra 😉

                2. Sigh. Ned it not one my FEW followers. Sigh. How will I ever get the infamous recipe.

                  Ever had down home she crab soup? Outer (not Otter-as donofalltrades calls us-lol) Banks style?

                3. I’ve smacked cooked blue crab open in Savannah, but I’ve never had Outer Banks-style she crab. Sounds like something I’d be up for, though. Don’t care for fish but LOVE shellfish. Just one question: “Outer Banks” isn’t anything like the “Outer Limits” TV show, right?

                4. Sounds similar to a seafood and jack cheese bisque we used to serve in Atlanta. Real creamy, with Dry Sack sherry, bay (smaller) scallops and lump crab meat. Served it with blue and white corn tortilla chips, or poured over stuffed crab. OK, now I’m REALLY hungry!

                5. Heck ya! Soak a gunny sack in molasses, vinegar and brown sugar, then put the pig inside and lay it on hot coals and cover it with palm leaves and apple wood or oak chips. Unbelievable. Plus you get sit around and drink beer while you’re waiting. Oh, and don’t fall in 😉

                6. Holy molasses. Molasses? Brown sugar!? Ground? That’s ALOT of work.

                  We have pig cookers. Slap that hawg on. Lots of charcoal. Mesquite. Soak her/him down in vinegar and a secret mixins. Good God almighty couldn’t stop the angels from comin down to get a taste. It’s an all nighter. There’s beer involved here too. And a lil “moon” 😏 “shine”. No falling in. Just gather round the cooker and FEAST. That’s if you can stand up….

                7. I agree we Northwesterners tend to overthink things. Sometimes I do miss living in The Deep South. Good to know ya’ll are still doing things right.

  5. as a single mother, i worked for years as a food waitress, cocktail waitress, bartender, caterer – all great adventures that sucked at times, but no less, adventures in their own right. helped me to get through school and get these damn degrees, made me learn to accept most anything/anyone as normal. glad i never had to live in the attic/basement/garage. now my 3 daughters have grown and are on their own, starting their own families, can’t wait for their kids to hang out at home just a bit too long ) funny they still ask indignantly: ‘what did you do with my —–?’ or state, ‘i can’t believe you got rid of my —–!” i just smile. )

  6. My mother told us, “You can do a lot of things but you can’t stay here.” It was the best thing she ever did for most of us. It was the second best thing she did for me. I am the eldest. We had a 5-4-4 school system, meaning that there was a separate building for high school. The summer from 8th grade to high school Mum told me I had to save my money for school clothes (she was a divorced mother to 6 kids), she would buy shoes and underclothes only. I spent the money I earned on purple nail polish, the fair, and other memorable purchases. I had no money for school clothes. She did not buy them. It was a lesson I never forgot. I felt like an ass because she told me I’d have to buy them and I didn’t save any money. I know that lesson was harder for her to teach than it was for me to learn.
    When I was a young adult and I had nothing, and wanted everything, she told me not to worry that it wouldn’t always be that way.
    She was right, Ned. I have nice things, things I worked hard for, enough that I haven’t really spent any of the nest-egg I inherited after she died 6 years ago. She was a teacher. She used to come sit in my section with her friends and they’d leave me a big tip. I loved being a waitress, I loved being independent, and I loved my mother.
    If your daughter has any good stuff let me know, I’ll come to the yard sale.

    1. That’s so fantastic. I think all too often parents take the easy way out, giving their kids everything without teaching them the value of hard work and commitment. It’s easier just to say “yes” so they won’t have to listen to them complain and whine. The irony is, that’s EXACTLY what they’re teaching them to do. I’ve always been very straight forward with my kids, and since the 9th grade, they’ve gone half on clothes. Anything beyond that is up to them. I give them plenty of opportunities to earn money with extra chores around the house. Your Mom taught you an invaluable lesson that has helped make you the successful person you are today. Not in terms of money, but self respect, independence and work ethic.

      That said, my daughter is taking everything with her 😉

  7. I got my start in the fast food industry. I now hold a master’s degree and no job. I do have an interview today for a $12/hr data entry position, so things are looking up. To sum up: does working fast food lead to success? Absolutely!

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