Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Poor College Students Get Tricked By Vendors

Today Epsita and I bought italian ice.

I bought "lemon" and Epsita bought "mango".

I was given lemon-coconut and she was given an orange colored italian ice that had no discernible flavor.

A few days ago, we ordered a cup of sweet corn custard. Excited to try it, we eagerly each tasted a spoonful, but tasted vanilla instead. I brought it back for an exchange.

We tasted the new one. It was still vanilla.

The Number of the Day

Again, I find myself with too much free time. But is this not a blessing? Rather that complaining about my problem, I decided to do something about. And what better thing to do in your free time than make a bit of extra cash using my old vice, online poker. I threw $55 on account and was making money within hours. Here are my day end stats since then:

Friday: $80 Profit: $25
Saturday: $150 Profit: $70
Sunday: $84 Profit: -$66
Monday: $51.45 Profit: -$32.55
Tuesday:$84.45 Profit: $23

Good News. Over the first two days I averaged $47.50/day, but alas my actual earnings per day is today's number of the day.


I will be playing higher stakes from now on.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

First Ikea and now Aveda?!?

On August 16th, 2009, Aveda will stop offering the 10% discount on haircuts if you show a proper student ID.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Ikea Hates Poor College Students

Poor College Students will be sad to hear that Ikea will now be charging $5 for each ride on the water taxi unless you spend $10 or more at Ikea on weekdays; weekend water taxi service will still be free.

Sometimes, Poor College Students just take the water taxi for fun because you get to ride along in the ocean and have great views. Not anymore...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Why People Don't Rent Books

I read a lot of books in my spare time. When I have a surplus of free time in the Summer, I spend way too much money on books. So much so that I got in the habit of going to the bookstore several times a week to finish just one book (all read while in the store). This seems like a thrifty way of entertaining yourself until you consider some affiliated costs:

It took me roughly 5 trips to finish one book so..
5 * (9.4 mile round-trip/20 miles per gallon) * $2.70 (price of gas) = $6.35

Ok.. so it still seems like I save money on almost any book I would buy, but I could still save a bit more.

When in Singapore, I was elated to be near a bookstore to which you could return books for about the half the price you paid. I took full advantage of this. When I returned to the states however, I realized I could return books for the full price anyway. At this epiphany, I checkout $60 worth of books and was on my way.

The next week, I wanted somewhere air-conditioned and less sweaty to read so I went to the library. Right in the doorway, I see each one of the books I just purchased in their new release section.

I suddenly wondered why anyone would pay for a book.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Poor College Student Will Sleep On The Streets To Get Free Tickets

Even though Poor College Students may not like/understand Shakespeare, they will still wait in line for free tickets to Twelfth Night.

I waited in line four times.

1) I arrived at Central Park at 8:30 AM on a Wednesday, got lost, and got in line at 9:00AM. At 1PM, I discovered that the cut-off point was 30 people in front of me. Had I not gotten lost, I would have gotten a ticket.

2) Two weeks later, I arrived at Central Park at 6:30 AM on a Thursday. The line was so much longer than the one I had waited in at 8:30 AM on Wednesday. I waited 10 minutes and left.

3) Later that day, I arrived at 4:00 PM to wait in the standby line. I was about 50th in line. At 7:00 PM, I discovered that they usually hand out only 5 or so tickets for standby.

4) The third to last day of the show, I went to Central Park at 2:00 AM and waited until 1:00 PM. I waited 11 hours. I finally got tickets :D

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Poor College Student Got Paid Last Week

Somehow he had money again...

but it was never meant to be.

Yoga Classes: $30
Sushi: $25
Repaying loan for a laptop: $480

Poor College Student Has Buyer's Remorse.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Poor College Student likes free samples

Lucy, Epsita and I went to the grocery store to shop for dinner one day. Grocery runs always consist of a two or three course meal because this particular store is wonderfully generous and a genius at luring poor college students. (First course: free soup samples, second course: free crackers and dip samples, cheese course: free cheese samples)

As usual, we made our stop by the crackers-and-dip stand as soon as we entered the store. We were absolutely thrilled because the cracker bowl was filled to the top, not with air-bubbly tasteless rice crackers, but with bagel chips! And the containers of dip were almost entirely full, completely contrary to the days when you practically have to wipe the containers with your cracker to get any dip at all.

On days that the crackers are crap and the dip is almost nonexistent, we will take a few bites and then move on. But this time, we couldn't just make a brief stop and walk away- these were bagel chips! Lots of them! And the containers were full of dip, not containers with a small puddle of dip.

We each sampled three or four kinds of dip and were nowhere near ready to be finished with this glorious feast when a big store worker with an eyepatch came, reached for the bowl of chips and tray of dip and said, "Excuse me, I have to refill this."

He didn't come back with refills.

The chip bowl had been still more than a half full, and we had barely had any of the dip. There are days when the bowl of chips will have nothing but a layer of crumbs but poor college students and hungry housewives alike will still try to pick up the biggest crumb and put a tiny dab of dip on it to eat.

But this day, customer service apparently had to be so good that they had to interrupt our feast to refill the chips to the very very top, didn't they?


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

It Was the Cheapest One on Ebay

I hate how they make you extend your contract when you want to replace your phone.

Poor College Student Can Never Pass Up A Good Deal

I was in a shopping mood. (When am I not?)

The library was having a book sale.

I see Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez. It cost $2.

"Hmm, I've heard of this novel before. The author is famous, he won a Nobel Prize. It was featured in Oprah's Book Club. It retails for $14.95."

I bought it.

As I step outside with my purchase in hand, I realize that I don't even like to read.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

You're not supposed to do that

The other day I wanted to make this kind of pasta. As you can see it has like practically no ingredients. Dried chili pepper, garlic, and some basil. People think it's weird that there's no sauce, but this is exactly the kind of dish I want when its hot and gross outside and I still want a substantial meal. It's light, oily, and delicious. Maybe not so delicious when I make it but other times when I've had it it is. Also, one serving probably costs fifty cents. Maybe less.

So I went to the supermarket to pick up chili pepper and spaghetti. The thing about dried chili pepper is that they sell it in large quantities (thus more expensive), but I only needed enough for one meal- one single pepper, or less- so I wanted to buy just one single loose fresh pepper and pretend it was dried... they taste similar enough.

At this particular supermarket, I knew they used to sell loose chili peppers but I went this time and couldn't find them... but spotted pre-packaged chili peppers. Seeing a supermarket guy stack the packs in the shelf, I asked him if they sold loose chili peppers instead of packaged ones.

Huh? Oh. I only need one.

He poked a hole into the saran wrap of a pre-packaged pack and pulled out a single chili pepper.

Whoa. Ok. Thanks!

I happily walk away with my chili pepper and wonder how I'm going to pay for it. When the cash register puts it through the weight/barcode thing and it shows up at 6 cents.
Sweet or what?

A few days later I decided to cook this again because I had leftover garlic and spaghetti. I put 3 dollars in my pocket and went for a run, and then went to the supermarket at the end. I was clever you see- I knew that it would look ridiculous to go to the supermarket and pay 6 cents, so I thought I'd buy a carton of orange juice as well.

Well. Orange juice costs more than three dollars.

So I picked up a carton of milk instead. Then I went back to the chili pepper section and again, there was a supermarket guy standing nearby, but a different one so I ask him too if they sell loose chili peppers.

Ahh no, we used to but, it takes up too much space so we don't anymore.
Why don't you just get these prepackaged ones? They don't cost much.
(They all cost at least $4. I also don't need 20 chili peppers)
Well, I only have three dollars.

He chuckled and shrugged and walked away after deciding there wasn't anything he could do to help me.

I walked away and came back when he was gone. Then I poked a hole in the saran wrap. And I pulled out a chili pepper.

I went up to the cash register and the girl gets confused when she sees my chili pepper.

Where did you get this?
Oh, uhh over there, just like, loose.
Over there where the chili peppers are.

She turns to her supervisor person and asks her how much these cost. She, too, is confused and asks me where I got it.
She walks away toward that section and I get a sinking feeling in my stomach....

I'm stuck waiting there nervously for five minutes after which she comes back and says
It's 7.99 a pound. Did you open up a pack?
Uhhh yeah.
You're not supposed to do that, you know?
Oh sorry. I can just not get it then.

Fortunately they ignored my last comment and let me buy my chili pepper.
And then I walked away as fast as I could.


Poor college student gets scolded by supermarket people just for trying to make an affordable lunch...

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Poor College Student tried to avoid the suggested donation and failed

American Museum of Natural History

Hello, welcome to the Museum of Natural History.
Hi. I have a question. How much is admission?
General admission is a suggested donation of $12. Special exhibits cost more.
Does our Columbia ID get us in for free? We don't have any money.
Oh. Well, can we get two tickets for general admission then?
Two tickets at $12 each. That will be $24.
I don't have any money.
Neither do I.
You have nothing? Not even some change?
My wallet is empty. See?
I have one dollar. I can give you that.
... here are two tickets.

Did she really just ask us for change?
Yes. She did.

Next time, we're using the automated kiosk.

Friday, July 3, 2009

They Told Me Not to Take the Motorbikes

When visiting foreign countries, one tends to think in the foreign currency. Pay $20 for a hostel? not likely. Hock up an extra $3 for the air-conditioned room? I'll just sleep with my clothes off. By using budget airlines and eating from street vendors, I managed to have a 5 day extravaganza in Vietnam for less than $250.

I rarely felt at ease when I was walking the streets in Saigon. In passing, my dark-ish complexion and black hair keep the passersby from staring, but my overstuffed backpack betrays my true tourist identity. Vendors present tourists with smiles, but indiscriminately overcharge and haggle. I don't have a huge problem with a little bit of price inflation, but the manner in which it's done is a bit unnerving. On at least four occasions I was charged a higher price even when items had price tags. I reiterate, rich foreigners deserve the inflation, but I nonetheless tire of the constant haggling.

I had been advised by friends in Singapore to stick to the metered taxis when moving around, but having never ridden a motorcycle, I wanted to try it once. I hopped on with a driver to make my way to Chinatown.

"You ride moterbike eh?" the driver said, flashing a huge grin. "How much
you want pay? You tell me. You one doing me favor."

This sounds like an offer for the gullible, but I decided the most I could lose is whatever reasonable sum I offer him. I pull out a crumpled up 20,000 Dong (USD1.5ish) note from my back pocket.

After riding 10 minutes, he turns back to me, "You want girl... Viet girl... to phkkk." I quietly reply no. He asks another 5 or 6 times to which I repeat no though I'm pretty sure we heard each other correctly the first time. Warning sign #2.

He pulls onto a street corner and calls to another motor biker. An English speaker, he promptly tells me that the driver was confused as to where I told him to go and that I owed them another 50,000 Dong. Again, not a huge sacrifice for me, but I step off the bike after my attempt to negotiate is met with hostility. Three strikes is already two too many.

I jump into one of many metered cabs swarming the opposite street corner. He drives in the opposite direction of the way I had been driving. This trip costs 70,000 Dong. Apparently the first asking price was right, but the destination was wrong. I'm afraid to think where I was originally being taken. There are three possibilities:

1. He was taking me to the girls.
2. He was taking me to get robbed somewhere
3. Or perhaps he actually misunderstood me and I overreacted.

After a couple of hours getting lost in Chinatown and asking directions in Mandarin, I take another street bike back to my starting point. This time I only pay 20,000 Dong.

I'm lead to believe it would have been option #1 or #2.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Poor College Student "FML"

Poor college student just wanted Shake Shack today. That was it.

Mike and I left campus at 2pm to walk around the West 70s. I needed to refill a metrocard though. I put in my ATM card, and although prompted for my PIN number, I put in my zip code. Five times. However, banks have a protocol where if you input your PIN wrong three times in a row, your card/acct. are blocked, since in most cases someone is trying to steal your money.

After the five times of putting in my zip code, I realized I was putting in the wrong thing. Mike's reaction was simply "I don't even know what to say to you, Epsita. I really don't know." After correcting myself, I still couldn't get a metrocard since my card was blocked. I put cash on the card, and went to my bank.

The bank people asked me what was wrong, and asked for my info to look up my acct. They laughed at me when they saw that I kept putting in my zip code, over and over again.

They unlocked my account.

This was a 30 to 40 minute ordeal.