Baumhower: Congratulations, now don’t be stupid!Written by Jeremy Baumhower | | email@example.com
Dear graduating Class of 2012:
As you are inundated with uninspiring graduation speeches and duplicate copies of Dr. Seuss’ “Oh The Places You Will Go,” I would like to use my column to drop some serious knowledge on you. I am sure everyone around you is currently offering advice as to what comes after high school, how to pursue your goals, work hard and live the American Dream. I only want to focus on something many fail to discuss in these commencement ceremonies: I want you to LIVE to see the end of summer and fall. I want you to survive.
Right now as you are reading this, you feel on top of the world, you’re invincible, the future is wide open and your dreams are finally ready to be pursued. The stress of your senior year is behind you, the pressure has been lifted, the drama has unfolded and you are ready to get on with your life! You have 90 days left to be a kid and have fun!
Many of you are planning and preparing the move to college, what courses to take, what to pack, how will you continue to date the person you are involved with, etc. The rest of you who are staying here might be looking for full-time work or preparing for fall classes at UT, BGSU or Owens Community College. The one thing all of you have in common right now is the excitement of the upcoming graduation party season. Which kids are going to have a family party versus a “cool” family party … you know, the one that will have a keg of beer and some booze. This is where my advice begins.
Every year there is another type of life-changing event that happens in the month of June: fatal car accidents involving current or graduating high school kids. These accidents can happen anywhere and any time, from rural areas to any suburb of Toledo. They are often the saddest of tragedies because a family goes from celebrating your tremendous future and hard work to planning your funeral. In almost all of the cases they are completely avoidable if you simply listen to my words.
Don’t drive drunk.
Don’t drive late at night.
Don’t drive distracted.
Those seem simple enough; they are often over-preached by known hypocrites, teachers, guidance counselors … and sadly fall on deaf ears. I hope your parents did not wake you early to show you this column, making you read it, because that is not how it is intended. I know some to most of you are going to be drinking illegally and some of you are going to be driving later than you have before. I know some of you have checked your phone twice since you began to read this article, so I know you will probably be tweeting, texting, Facebooking, playing Words with Friends or Draw Something all while driving. You are going to be stupid. Put these together in any combination and factor in your inexperience of driving — spells the perfect formula for tragedy.
Here is how to stay alive and pursue your dreams and find out what life is truly about.
If you are at a party late at night: Just stay where you are, crash on a couch, grab some floor or have a parent/older sibling pick you up. Even if you have not had one sip of alcohol, the roads are filled with people who have, especially late at night. Your parents may be furious at you for missing curfew, they will be pissed because maybe you had a drink, but they are yelling at a “live” you … they are not crying over a “dead” you at the coroner’s office.
This seems dramatic because it is … I am talking Life and Death with you. This piece was not to talk down to any of you; I am not trying to be unrealistic. These words are coming from a man who celebrated with the best of them and was lucky to survive. I have seen enough grieving families in the month of June, I’ve been to enough funerals. I simply want you all to survive, especially if you are reading this piece … I need every reader possible.
Congratulations and don’t be stupid. The world will be yours if you are smart enough to survive.
Please follow Jeremy Baumhower on Twitter @JeremyTheProduc.