Taking the Other Way Home

by Mike Dang and Logan Sachon

Mike: Logan, how are you doing this week? I’ve been calling you a “ball of mishaps.” A “walking ball of mishaps.”

Logan: Yes that is apt. Ha. Let’s see. Monday my computer died and did this grey screen of death flashing folder question mark TERRIBLE THING. So I went to the Apple store, but you know, not before having to borrow a friend’s computer for the day and then getting on the wrong subway, etc. But I got it fixed and I was still under AppleCare even though I thought I wasn’t and that was great! And then yesterday my power cord stopped working, ha. That actually doesn’t seem like that many mishaps. I’m sure there’s more. When I got back from Minneapolis I walked around the city in some thrift store boots that I’d been wearing for weeks but since in Minneapolis I didn’t walk anywhere, I got this gnarly blister and then my ankle swelled up and I thought I had blood poisoning. I guess that was a mishap.

Mike: And the fact that you sort of ran out of money until the middle of this month. Which seems like you’ve been able to push through okay? Inquiring minds would like an update, I think.

Logan: I dealt with that little mishap through discovering that with overdraft protection, if I used my debit card as a credit card (and like, had it swiped at a restaurant or whatever), it got denied. BUT if I used it with my pin number it was accepted, with the requisite $3 fee for fucking up. So I took out $100 ($3 fee plus $2 ATM fee plus $2 ATM fee from the ATM) as my food and coffee money, which I spent … kind of quickly, but still have some of. I’ll probably have to re-up, but paying $7 in fees to get cash has actually made me not want to get cash, SURPRISINGLY. (And also knowing it’s not real cash and that as soon as I get a check I’ll be transferring it back to my credit card.)

And tonight I’m going to return many things to Target. I’ve been putting that off because I’m nervous about doing it, which is silly because I have worked in retail, and I know that you can just return stuff! People do it all the time and that is fine! But I’m still nervous about it — what if they don’t let me?! This is irrational, I know. Also I have been taking a different subway so I don’t walk by my neighborhood bar on the way home, and this has allowed that money to last and last. Turns out I don’t spend much cash when I don’t drink. WEIRD.

Mike: Yeah, I find returning things uncomfortable too, which is why I go shopping so rarely, or find a thing I like, and just buy that same thing whenever I need it. But, I am sure it will be fine! Also, returning things during the holidays is super stressful, so getting it done sooner will be much better for you.

The taking a different subway so that you’re not tempted to stop by a bar and buy drinks is so interesting to me! Because that’s something I don’t think I’d ever do, mostly because I only drink at bars if I’m meeting someone (social drinker!). But you’re doing this on your own, which to me, is brave, because I find doing that to be awkward sometimes. It’s like going to a sit-down restaurant alone. What do you do? Look at your phone? What did we do in these situations before smartphones? Books, I think. I have a travel writer friend who takes all these solo trips around the world, and she says if you don’t have something to read, sometimes you can strike up conversations with people around you and make friends — which I also find intimidating.

Logan: Yeah books. I’m adverse to sitting in a restaurant or bar and scrolling through Twitter (though I’ve done it, sure), but I read books on my phone (the key to doing this is that you have to put it on the mode where the screen is black and the words are white? Otherwise it’s too bright and you RUIN THE MOOD for you and everyone else. Plus it feels better on your eyeballs.) But yeah I go out alone all the time and have since … gosh, forever? I did it a lot when I lived in San Diego and didn’t really have any friends. Being around people — even if I don’t know them and am not talking to them — just feels so good sometimes, so I’d take myself out to dinner or bring a book to a bar. If I don’t have a book with me, which I always do now because of glorious ebooks, I’ll scribble on some paper or eavesdrop on people. I’ve made friends in bars, had good conversations with strangers, but I think if you go there with that sole interest, it can be disappointing. But, mostly, yeah. I read and nurse a drink.

Mike: Okay, I’m going to step in here, because this is the part where I think people might think, “Oh, but you can’t afford that!” Which: true. But, I think you’re aware of that, and the taking a different subway home plan is actually a good idea to take away that temptation. It’s interesting to be in that frame of mind, and then figure out how to take yourself out of it. My subconscious frame of mind is: “I can’t afford to stop at a bar, or stop by one of the many restaurants I walk by on the way home.” It’s actually something I don’t even think about doing. I basically just get on the train after work, and go home to whatever is waiting for me in the fridge.

Logan: Yeah, the idea of what I can “afford” and “not afford” has always been a problem for me, mostly in that I feel like if I can pay for it right now — with cash, with my debit card, historically, with a credit card — then I can afford it. My ideas about spending are heavily influenced by the Weight Watchers points system, basically: You can eat whatever you want, but you only have so many points, and when they’re gone, they’re gone.

Like, Weight Watchers doesn’t say, you can’t have cheesecake. They say, you can have cheesecake but then you can only eat raw vegetables the rest of the day because you’re out of points. So I feel like I can actually buy anything, I just have to be willing to not buy things when my money is gone. Which kind of works but when I run out of money two weeks before payday that kind of breaks down. But yeah, in the moment, I will always choose present me over future me, and if present me has $7 to buy a drink and tip the bartender and sit in a nice cozy bar with a book and good music, I will do that.

Mike: I think there’s a lot to unpack there! I feel like there must be a way for you to have those moments where you can do that, and also have real money to do it. Part of this, I think, has a lot to do with trade-offs. What things that cost you money would you be willing to give up so that you can have that money to do another thing you want, like stop by a bar on the way home from work? Let’s think about it and reconvene here, same time, next week!