If you have to pay for printing in college, a few weeks into classes, you realize that it costs more than a printer and ink. At least I felt so. So I ordered a printer on Walmart (Walmar was cheaper than Amazon).Since door delivery takes a week more than in-store pick up, I went to Walmart to bring my brand new printer home today. Here’s what I learnt on this trip. Some of them are lessons that even an Ivy League education cannot impart.
1) Don’t let the number of brands and options distract you. Just buy what you want.
All I needed was a stack of printing paper. When I finally found the aisle with printing paper, guess what I found? Racks and racks of printing paper of different brands and prices ranging from $2.89 for 500 pages to $7.59 for 300 pages. Then there infinite types of paper.There was “Basic Paper”, three kinds of “Standard Paper”, “Premium Paper” and “Super Premium Paper”. And oh, “30% Recycled Standard Paper”. They all had different brightness values. Wait, I’m not buying lamps, am I?
I must have spent at least 15 minutes trying to decide which paper to buy. I also had a bus to catch in 30 minutes. Finally, it came down to the price and I chose the standard paper. I could have made this decision in the first 20 seconds if I hadn’t been distracted by the myriad of options.
2) You don’t have to buy larger packs just because there are larger packs (of anything)
After the paper dilemma, I headed over to the “Beauty and Wellness” section to buy about 3 bars of bathing soap. I found racks full of Dove soap. There were in packs of 2,3,6 and 10. The larger the pack, the lesser is the price per unit. I considered buying the pack of 10 bars. But I didn’t need so many.
Coming from India, where shampoo sachets are in sold even in tiny Rs.3 packets, I cannot help but ask – what is it with America and large portions?! Yet, I bought the pack of 6 bars of soap. I almost regret it now. What if I don’t like this soap?
3) Know how your bank account/credit cards work.
With 10 minutes until the bus arrived, I got my items billed.
Last month, I was proud of myself for opening a bank account and getting my debit card, all by myself. So instead of paying in cash, I was going to use my card for the first time. I swiped my card at the billing counter. It said, “Enter your pin”.
I did not remember the pin. And I did not have enough cash to pay for it all. So I told the employee that I did not remember my pin. She asked me to choose “credit”. I said my account did not have a credit card associated with it. How could I buy something on credit? She said, just swipe it. I did. And my bill was paid.
I walked out wondering what had just happened. I don’t think I’ve ever felt as stupid as I did then. Does Cornell offer a 1 credit course on personal finance? I definitely need it. Tomorrow, I have to go to a teller at my bank and figure out how my “credit” works. Oh, and I came back and looked up my card’s pin.
4) You may think you know the TCAT bus system, but you really don’t.
I made it on time to catch the bus back to campus. I was carrying a printer and two light polythene bags. It wasn’t heavy, just bulky to carry. During the 30 minute bus ride, I made a mental schedule for the rest of my day. When the bus stopped at my usual stop, I didn’t get off. I figured that the next stop, Jameson Hall, would be closer to my dorm.
But the next stop was not Jameson Hall. It was somewhere off campus, beyond a hilly road and what not. Twenty minutes later, I ended up at the Ithaca Airport. I got off there, waited another twenty minutes for the bus back to Cornell. On the bright side, this blog post was conceived during that time! I also met a student at the Tompkins Cortland Community College and gained a different perspective of being a student in Ithaca. (And I’m sure that student didn’t expect to find himself in a blog post.)
I reached campus after another twenty minute ride. I dragged my up to my dorm room, perched upon my bed and typed this blog post about my big Ithacan adventure.
P.S.: I’m glad I’m taking full advantage of my free bus pass this year.