Day 7 | $0 paid | $90,717 till freedom
File this one under “Cut Costs.”
Alcohol is a social lubricant, removing the friction that often comes with social interactions, while simultaneously providing a fair amount of liquid confidence. The consumption of alcohol at bars is basically an unspoken requirement. Seriously, try going into any of the 100+ bars in downtown Austin and being the only sober one. Not. Enjoyable. At all. You have to be at least one or two deep.
Knowing that I typically spend a lot of money on alcohol when I go out, I brought along a new little friend last night.
This little guy holds 8oz of really, really cheap whiskey and fits conveniently and discreetly into my back pocket. It turns out that not only do you have to spend money to make money, you have to spend money to save money, too. The flask cost me $22, but will save me hundreds.
Oh, and sorry I’m not sorry, Austin bars. I think I’ve tipped you enough that we should both feel pretty good about this new situation.
Last night, my friends picked me up from my house (in a white 2010 Mercedes Benz C300, naturally) and when we arrived downtown, I broke off from the group to interview a couple of pedi-cab drivers. What are the good pedi-cab companies to work for? What should I wear? How much water should I bring? Do you recommend energy bars? What about the bike–mountain, road, or hybrid? Clipless or standard pedals? Bar-ends? And most importantly, how much are you guys pulling down a night? Tom from Heart of Texas Pedi-cabs was a fountain of knowledge on all things pedi-cab, and very friendly to boot.
After I got the knowledge dropped on me, I headed to the bar to meet up with my friends. Before I looked for them in the shoulder-to-shoulder meet market, I ordered a Coke. Used to typically ordering a round of shots and drinks for the group I’m with, I felt–and I’m not exaggerating when I say this–like a complete idiot ordering a Coke alone at the bar. I kind of felt the same way I felt when John from the pedi-cab place told me that pedi-cabbing isn’t for me if I can’t break $150/night. Judged. In fact, I felt poor. It’s one thing to order a Coke because you’re DD for the night, but it’s quite another to order a Coke because you’re poor and/or way too freaking cheap to order an actual drink. Anyway, the bartender served it up, charged me $2, I gave him $3, and then I bee-lined it for the bathroom.
It was really weird, but while I was sipping the Coke on my way to the bathroom to work it down to a level that would accomodate the soon-incoming whiskey, I had this feeling that I didn’t belong. I saw a drink in every single person’s hand–a real drink, not a soda or water–and I felt…excluded, left out. It was unpleasant.
Anyway, I got to the bathroom, went to a stall, closed the door, filled up my drink while casting furtive glances over my shoulder, and went back out to the bar area. Suddenly, by drinking a whiskey and coke, drinking a drink with everyone else, I felt included again. It felt pleasant. The whole transition was really the oddest phenomenon ever. Anyway, I rejoined my friends and we hung out for a bit before heading elsewhere.
I already had a sneaky suspicion, but it turns out that I really do have exceptionally generous friends. Even though I repeatedly told them very clearly, “No, thank you” to their offers to buy me drinks, I was still included in almost all of the rounds that were bought last night. I made it completely clear that I wasn’t going to be buying any rounds that night, but they didn’t care. They told me that they would put it on my tab, ride my pedi-cab for free, and in July, when I’m student loan-free, I would be required to throw the biggest party ever. Finally, I had to acquiesce–they simply weren’t giving me a choice in the matter.
(My friends know about my goal–we had talked about it during the ride downtown that night, and the general consensus is that they support it, they think it’s the right thing to do, but they know it’s going to suck pretty badly for ten months. I shared my concern with them that they wouldn’t be seeing a lot of me during the next ten months, and they told me to chill out, ten months isn’t forever.)
Anyway, back to the boozing. It felt odd, accepting drinks that I didn’t have to pay for. I mean, of course I have always accepted drinks that I haven’t paid for, but I’m okay about it because I know that I’m always in the line-up for getting rounds and will pay it back. Last night, however, I was accepting charity, and the only other time I’ve ever done that before was when I took the $54k from Harvard via the fellowship. Then it felt okay. Last night, it didn’t. It felt…slimy. My friends work very, very hard for their money, and last night, I was being a complete freeloader and I’ve never freeloaded before.
I just got a call from one of my friends with whom I went out last night. Everybody from last night is going out to lunch. It was with a dejected tone that I had to decline. Sadly, food does not fit into my backpocket quite as easily as a flask, and I’m not letting anybody buy me lunch.