Tag: sadness

The Devil’s in the Resales

hamburglar
Note: The burger in this picture represents your money and me being too tired to Photoshop this picture. The Hamburglar represents the Hamburglar. But for some reason he’s a hipster now? Yeah. I don’t really get it either…

“Well,” I hear you say with a weary sigh, “at least you can sell your books back for money when you’re all done with them.”

Then, apparently not understanding how cliches work, you add, “I mean, at least it can’t get any worse, right?”

At which point, it starts raining.

But to answer your question: Yes, selling your books back is something you have the option of doing, in the same way that you could spend the day before a trip looking for loose change on the ground at the airport to pay for your ticket. You certainly could. It just wouldn’t be all that helpful.

The entire book-buying experience concludes at the end of each semester in something called “buyback.” Or as it’s more properly known, “Would you rather cling to the last shred of a moral victory, or have $6?”

So how does it work? Let me walk you through the process.

Buyback begins by handing a textbook to a salesperson who then tries to come up with the smallest number they can think of. They will then look at the book from various angles and, regardless of its condition, cut the number they were thinking of in half. While all this is going on they continually shake their head and “tsk” as your plans for your refund devolve from “dinner, movie and drinks” to “dinner and a movie” to “a movie” before finally settling on “reading movie summaries on Wikipedia.”

This concludes with one of two monetary outcomes that are, for all intents and purposes, identical.

In the first, you either bought a used copy of the book or some oil from your fingers touched the cover – either rendering it worthless at a tool for future education. The salesperson will reveal the number they thought up. And before you get halfway through your well-reasoned argument that you paid several hundred dollars more just two months ago, they say, “Take it or leave. There’s a line of sad people forming behind you.”

If you take the pittance, you’ll enjoy the realization that the book you bought for $100 used and sold for just $6 will likely be on the shelf against next semester with the same $100 price tag. Alternatively, you could walk out with your head held high(ish) and a bag full of books no human would ever want to read.

And for the record, no, even after going through that about a dozen times I’m still not sure which of those is the moral victory.

In the second scenario, the salesperson will look at a master list, sigh and say, “Looks like there’s a new edition coming out.” They then may or may not mutter something about having thought up a really good low number for nothing.

They’ll then point to the line of sad people forming behind you without offering you either a choice or pittance.

Why? Because as a I hinted at earlier, slightly different editions are effectively worthless to students. Although student bookstores can – and as I’ve seen, will – sell outdated editions, they won’t buy them back from you.

At which point you’re essentially left with a choice of tossing the books in the nearest garbage or giving it to the salesperson to do it for you.

The bad news, though, is that neither option is the moral victory in this case. If you hand over the book for “disposal,” there’s an above average chance it will still end up for sale next semester. And that’s why I probably never went this route. Giving the school the book I bought for $100 just so they could sell it again feels oddly like handing someone back their knife after they stabbed you.

Even if you think you’re sticking it to the bookstore by throwing your book in the trash outside, I’ve seen their employees root through the garbage for sellable books after closing. Seeing this didn’t make me very happy about the entire process. Though it did go a long way toward explaining why my used astronomy book smelled like an odd mixture of shame, human tears and pasta sauce when I bought it.

At least two of those three odors, I can only assume, were directly related to the buyback process in the first place.

So what’s the takeaway from all of this? What’s the moral of this story? What can future students do to make things better? Honestly, I’ve got no clue. Lord knows I was in college long enough that if there was a solution I would have figured it out and tried it myself.

For the most part I was just picking used copies based on the smells I liked most.

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Review – Eggnog Cake Rolls

eggnog-cake-rolls
Pictured: A very subtle metaphor.

I mean, honestly, why should I even care what I put in my body anymore?

Okay. Deep breaths. Focus. This isn’t about that other thing. This is about Christmas infringing so far on the rest of the calendar that I bought a box of limited edition festive Swiss Cake Rolls a week before Halloween.

Or…maybe I don’t want it to be about that, either.

Where was I? Right. As much as it might surprise people, I’m not eating horrible junk food every moment of every day. Since I fancy myself a rather good cook, I tend to be full by the time dessert rolls around. Combined with my habit of grabbing limited edition flavors the moment I see them, it often leads to a cupboard full of garbage that I ignore for weeks or months on end. One day, I assume, they’ll name the disorder, which will at least make it easier to explain.

It was because of said filled cupboard and unsaid thing that happened that I recently turned to junk food as a way to handle the stress.

Eggnog Cake Rolls are the best kind of theĀ  worst sort of snack. Like eggnog ice cream and fried butter before it, it took two horrible things, shrugged and then mashed it together. Then, it looked at consumers and said, “I mean, nobody lives forever, right?”

So I had some. Four, actually. Because I wanted to feel something other than what I was feeling at the time, even if it was far worse.

Or, at least, that’s sort of how it happened.

In reality, common sense was putting up a good fight against eating it. “We just got your body to a good place,” it cautioned. “You don’t have to stop and rest after washing your hands. If you put this in you now, it’ll do damage that might take months or years to sort out. Don’t do this. We’ve come so far.”

Meanwhile, my self-destructive side just shook its head, interjecting a “wrong” or “not true” every so often as common sense was making its point. “Where did you hear this?” it wondered angrily at the end.

Another part of me was simply tired of things the way they were. And while it acknowledged that eating a box of snack cakes would probably destroy my body, it was tired of so much rational thinking. “Thinking out every decision just means fewer new experiences,” it argued. “Are some of them bad? Sure. Are some of them unhealthy? Absolutely. But there are so many fried foods you haven’t tried.”

Inevitably, in a move that shocked everyone, I ate Eggnog Cake Rolls until I was sick.

It wasn’t the best idea. But it was what my body decided on. Though, not entirely. Because while over half of my body decided not to make me throw up, there was some strange math involved that I still don’t fully understand. And well, next thing you know, I’m staring at a bunch of empty cellophane wrappers wondering how this all happened.

As I sat there, feeling sicker and sicker, parts of me urged to wait it out. “Sure. The nutrition information looks pretty bad, but you’re acting like you’ve already thrown up. You’re just a bit nauseous. That’s perfectly normal.”

“I don’t know,” I reasoned. “I’m pretty sure no human being is supposed to eat so much of something with so many five-syllable ingredients in it.”

“It sounds like you’ve already decided you want to be sick from eating these snack cakes.”

“I don’t know. I feel like they’ve given me good reason to expect to throw up. Stuffing snack cakes with solid eggnog is objectively bad for you.”

To which the dissenting parts replied, “Look. Are you still going on about this? It’s been almost thirty seconds since you ate them. Whatever’s going to happen, you just need to calm down and work with your body to get this all sorted out.”

I brought up that my body had yet to forgive me for eating a salad with no dressing eight years ago. There was name-calling. I’ll spare you the ugly details.

I’m writing this before I know what the outcome of stuffing my face with enough processed food to kill a mid-sized cow might be. I don’t want to throw up. Nobody does. But I fear that’s the only possible outcome from a snack cake that does everything but say exactly that on its packaging.

I fear I sacrificed my health for the promise of something that would taste good for a small moment compared to the time I’m forced to deal with the consequences. And most of all, I fear that no matter how badly things go, there will still be parts of my body that refuse to learn why I can’t eat things like this, all the while still blaming that salad I ate years ago for why I don’t feel well.

I’m not sure what to do now. Because I can’t un-eat what’s already been eaten. And while I hold the small shred of moral victory in knowing that I, on the whole, didn’t want to eat that whole box of snack cakes, I will invariably still have to deal with the results.

They were good. And it’s hard to deny that some parts of my body will revel in that taste and pleasant fullness up to the very moment before I empty my guts into the toilet. But I doubt I’ll look back on it in four years and think it was a good decision.