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Davis, California

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Column: Cheap$kating

It was during the second half at the women’s basketball game against Long Beach State on Thursday. Pulses were pounding. Tall girls were sweating. A “Go Ags!” chant echoed from the crowd. My friend and I were tastelessly screaming “free shit!” We’re cheapskates who will go well out of our way for pink shirts and tube socks. And I’m not gonna lie, since we got suckered into waiting an hour and a half for those shirts, we felt justified in going back to grab a second free pink Odwalla smoothie on our way out.

Before you judge, ask yourself if you’ve ever waited in a line around the block for free pancakes, ice cream or burritos. You know you have. If you sleep on a couch that’s mysteriously crusty and older than Joan Rivers, if you will eat a slice of pizza so long as it shows no visible signs of mold and if you can’t remember the last time you legitimately paid to see a movie, you’re probably either a college student or a recovering meth addict. But really, it’s kind of remarkable how often the traits of those two coincide.

Hey, the “starving student” spiel had to come from somewhere. We’re supposed to be sharp individuals with bright futures gleaming in the distance, dedicated to our craft and willing to sacrifice in the meantime. This means dignity has little place on this campus. Dumpster diving is a must if you wish to have more furniture in your apartment than just a bean bag and a sad little leg lamp like the one from A Christmas Story. The same goes for weekend field trips to Costco for food sampling buffets. And yes, unfortunately, the top shelf is completely off limits unless your parents were dumb enough to go away for the weekend and leave the liquor cabinet unlocked.

The funny part is most people I know drank better hooch in their jailbait days. If you’re a freshman and you don’t own a push-up bra, it’s Taaka and Keystone all the way. Patrón will only reappear in your life after you complete your first brain transplant/marry a Coppola/take over Belgium. When that happens, you can fill your swimming pool with Kellerweis, host the best pool party ever and live out your Almost Famous roof-jumping fantasy.

I don’t eat much Top Ramen because early in life, my mother somehow convinced me that I would contract every form of cancer there is and drop dead because of it. But I can see why it’s so prevalent in the average student’s life: it’s dirt-cheap. Sure, fast food dollar menus may kill us later, but by the time our diabetes becomes life-threatening, there will be cures and stuff for it. Man, the DC is sounding good right about now.

It’s a sign of the times when you and your friends have to call around just to look for a TV to watch your favorite primetime soap because no one has a TV that’s new and spiffy enough to actually get any form of reception. You know how it is – you buy the latest version of WoW or whatever it is nerds are into these days, then generously cut 10 copies for your besties. Because sharing is caring.

I admit it – we’ll stoop to some pretty low lows in order to save a few bucks. When someone gave me a free pizza coupon on the quad, you can bet your sweet cheeks I put my friend’s background as a former Kinko’s employee to good use and lived off free pizza until that expiration date popped up.

A friend of mine took it a step further for free pizza. He and his roommates signed up for an online membership to a local pizza joint to score a free pizza each time. Eventually they got red-flagged, so they had to alter the plan a bit – have the pizzas delivered to their next-door neighbors. Props to them for being true problem-solvers.

One of Davis’ best cheapskate treasures is the notorious Hunan lunch special. For five dolla or so you get enough food to satisfy Fat Bastard. It’s unfortunate that their DavisWiki page is filled with complaints about the service. Seriously, they feed obnoxious 20-year-olds and they do a damn good job at it, so STFU. Don’t let the fact that you’re super stingy give you an excuse to leave an undeserved crappy tip. That’s just mean, and it makes them hate us even more.

Looking back on it, it’s a wonder that as freshman we somehow – in our quiet desperation to get drunk – chugged enough Popov to knock a Tyrannosaurus Rex into next week. Hopefully someday I’ll view it as a fond right of passage, a hazing ritual to success, per say. Because a lifetime of Popov sounds just awful.

MICHELLE RICK learned from the best; she’s related to people who bring their own tea bags to restaurants. She can be reached at marick@ucdavis.edu – it’s free.


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