I hit rock bottom.
It started out in a Subway restaurant, as these stories go. I was hungry for a sandwich and it was just about dinnertime. I ordered the usual and waited patiently as the sandwich artist crafted it to my exact specifications.
Before I go on, you need to understand that my bank account was low. Was it too low that I wouldn’t have been able to afford a sandwich at Subway? I didn’t think so.
So I gave the cashier my credit card, and he swiped. There was a momentary pause. And finally, my world came crashing down.
There I was, standing in shame and disbelief after the cashier denied my card. Here on the counter was the Subway trinity: the sandwich, the chips and the holy Coke, but I wasn’t going to enjoy any of it.
I took the drink and chips off the table, hoping to slash off the price. I don’t particularly like the sacrilegious act of breaking up the Subway trinity, but if it means being able to afford my dinner, it must be done.
I didn’t know what difference the $1.75 subtraction would make, but I took my shot.
It proved fruitless. My card was denied again. I hung my head low and left Subway for a frozen meal back in my apartment.
Rock bottom is really deep. But there’s almost always a deeper crevasse, and I’m only about 200 words into this column. We’re far from over.
The next day I found myself in the PODS, when a presence had befallen me — a presence that I can liken only to suffering a dementor’s kiss.
Fate took its course, and here was that same cashier from Subway, sitting down at the computer next to me. We uttered not a word to each other. I hung my head low again, trying my best to avoid recognition.
In having to face the same person who deemed that my credit wasn’t good enough to buy a sandwich the very next day, it hit me. This was rock bottom.
I’m sure all of us face that crystallizing “rock bottom” moment in college, the one that slaps us in the face and tells us to man the fuck up, because one day you might not be able to afford a sandwich.
How are we to prepare?
There was a point in my first year where I thought I had already encountered the moment and defeated it. Not to go into too much detail, but there was a few too many games of beer pong, a bathroom floor, Harpur’s Ferry and a confiscated ID that may or may not have had my face on it.
It was an arduous time, but it wasn’t a crystallizing, rock bottom moment, as much as it was just a crappy night.
I’m sure plenty of us have had the aforementioned “crappy night” and have lived to tell the tale, but did any of us learn anything from it? Are we better people because we spent the whole night hugging a toilet, yelling for someone to take us out of our misery?
The feeling of despair I had after getting my card denied at Subway, stammering to the cashier, trying to explain my situation, was hard to come back from.
This stuff is going to happen though, and you probably won’t be ready when it does. Still, we all have to learn something from it. At one point, we are going to be poor to some degree. Forget paying rent or utilities, you might not even be able to buy a sandwich.
And for the lucky ones like me, life is going to add insult to injury, but don’t sweat it. There’s nowhere to go but up.