The 9 Dollar Spring Break

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In a recent column I wrote, I made a quick reference to my fraternity brother successfully completing a spring break round trip on a total budget of nine U.S. Dollars. That’s 900 cents. Some of you idiots asked me to write about it, and being a man of the people, here we are.

It was my freshman year. My broke ass friend, we’ll call him “Ryan,” was a sophomore. Our group was about 16ish people deep, guys and girls included. We were bound for Angel Fire, New Mexico for five days of skiing, drinking, and some other weird shit. It was Angel Fire, so you’re immediately thinking low budget. That was our thought, as well. A pledge brother of mine also happened to own a house there. It was a modest A-frame house on the side of the mountain. It got the job done, and we didn’t have to pay to stay there, which was huge.

Ryan’s lodging cost: $0

Secondly, we drove there from central Texas. We rolled through the western half of Texas and up into the Rockies in a four-vehicle convoy. Ryan was in my car. Having Ryan in my car inherently meant we’d be splitting fuel costs three ways, as he wouldn’t be contributing to our gas fund. It was fine. We were just happy we convinced him to empty his checking account and come along, because A) we enjoyed his company, but mostly because B) we knew how much fun it would be witnessing him stretch nine dollars across a five-day interstate vacation.

Ryan’s travel cost: $0

Even Ryan had to eat, though. Nine dollars allocated over five days is $1.80 per day for food, and that’s if his entire budget went toward nourishment. Proper sustenance is vital to a drinking marathon such as the one we’d be embarking upon, so this was a cost he couldn’t avoid. But less than two bucks a day for food? That isn’t sufficient. So, how’d he eat?

Ryan devised a backless system of IOUs to pay for food on the trip. We’d stop in west Texas for a burger and fries, and Ryan would write out an IOU for $6.50, sign it, and give it to the person he borrowed the $6.50 from. We’d go grocery shopping once we arrived in Angel Fire, then we’d split the cost among the group, and Ryan would ask someone to cover his portion in exchange for a signed IOU.

I don’t recall if each IOU holder, myself included, was ever repaid. They likely weren’t. But we couldn’t just sit back and watch our boy starve.

Ryan’s food cost: $0

Ryan somehow finagled alcohol out of us using this same arbitrary and unsophisticated IOU system.

Ryan’s alcohol cost: $0

We were there to ski, and skiing is expensive. Rentals and lift tickets — it’s not a cheap hobby, and certainly not a realistic vacay activity for someone with nine dollars in his pocket.

He’d need skis. Ryan, thinking ahead, worked his way down his contact list asking anyone he knew if they owned a pair of skis and boots that he could borrow, and if they did, hopefully they shared his shoe size. Our buddy, also on the trip with us, had a pair of skis that he wouldn’t be using. They were passed down to him from his father. Our buddy wouldn’t be using them because they were from the late ‘70s or early ‘80s. Skiing technology, for those unaware, has come a long way in the last 35 years. These skis looked about as long as those modern Olympic long jumpers’ skis, only they were as thin as modern ones. I still can’t figure out why that design was ever a thing, and I don’t know how anybody was able to maneuver a mountain in them. Neither did Ryan.

Like a newborn giraffe taking its first steps on a frozen pond, Ryan was a travesty on the slopes. He went on two runs before calling it.

Ryan’s ski rental cost: $0

Ryan’s entire budget of nine dollars went toward paying off the lift ticket scanner. He identified the youngest looking guy — had to be a guy dressed like a snowboarder too, since snowboarders are all low-life dopers who don’t care about rules, or life in general — and propositioned him. After a half minute of convincing and a nine-dollar handshake, Ryan was out of money and on his way up the mountain. He knew he had one day of skiing, and he could only use that one doper ticket scanner each time, so he’d need to make his runs count. Of course, he didn’t.

Ryan’s lift ticket cost: $9

Oh, and “Ryan” actually isn’t an alias. Ryan is his real name, and he’s the co-founder of our company. That asshole still owes me money.

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