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Flex points: countdown to zero

Matt Miklavic | Tuesday, April 30, 2013

As the flowers bloom and South Bend consumes its two-day quota of good weather, it is with sadness that we look to finals approaching which will bring to a close our year at Notre Dame.  With them comes a myriad of questions. “When are my finals?” “Wait, I’m still in that class?” “Where am I storing everything this summer?” “Why does the band still play ‘Rumor Has It’?” And last but certainly not least, “How do I spend the rest of my flex points?”
As a remarkably diverse student body, it should come as no surprise students fall into a wide range of flex point positions. What follows is an attempt to highlight just a few of them.
The planner:
The planner budgeted out his flex points way back in January. While slightly disheartened his balance is $42.05 rather than the planned $43.71, he nevertheless knows exactly what he’s going to be buying, the total of his purchase and very possibly the name of the cashier he’ll be buying it from. He’ll want to correct the cashier for including tax on his purchase, but her casual smile and the prospect of a future SYR will keep him from saying anything. After his last final, he’ll walk to LaFortune, buy something and, despite having bombed the final, smile with great satisfaction that his balance is exactly $0.00.
The mooch:
At some point, the mooch decided they no longer cared. Inspired by their television, they declared it was indeed their money and they wanted it now. Having gone to Au Bon Pain two times a day for the first three months and having ended each night at Reckers, they find themselves without flex points or food, forced to attend random Career Center events in pursuit of free pizza. In drastic cases, the lack of purchasing power has led to these people declaring themselves free from Huddle delicacies such as soap, deodorant and toothpaste as well. Aside from smuggling out gummy worms in their backpacks and North Dining Hall burritos in their pockets (guy in the blue sweatshirt, you know who you are), their appetites are left to the charity of their friends as well as to anyone else who happens to be in line while they beg.
Best intentions:
This student started out as the planner. They thought they had it all figured out. They were on track through March, and then it all went wrong. Maybe their friends convinced them to buy Taco Bell for the entire section at 3 a.m. in a questionable state of sobriety. Maybe they had high school friends visiting who needed food, or they bought someone else’s food for them in an awkward display of courtship. Maybe there was an emotional night of section bonding, gossip and romantic comedies complete with Cherry Garcia and Phish Food – but enough about Siegfried. Whatever the cause, the planner’s best laid plans have fallen apart, and they’ve become just another member of the mooch legion.
The Last Supper:
The Last Supper is a special case for those among us who have been, to put it delicately, “asked” to take some time away from school. Incredibly, given the transgressions often responsible for mid-semester dismissals, their flex points haven’t been ravaged by the munchies. They have several hundred dollars left to spend, even after buying the ResLife committee lunch in a last-ditch attempt to sway their decision. So what does one do? Follow Jesus, of course, and participate in a Last Supper. In ceremonious fashion, you assemble a hungry horde and head to LaFortune. Once there, nothing is off limits. Even Burger King is allowed. In a race against time before the host’s identification card is deactivated, the group buys anything and everything. Unlike the following student, the point here is to spend money – avoid the quarter dogs.
The quarter dog connoisseur:
The quarter dog connoisseur (Q.D.C.) knows how to stretch a dollar. After coming to the realization they were going to run out of flex points around Easter Break, they transitioned to quarter dogs to the benefit of their flex points and the detriment of their lifespans. While not quite enjoying the four-month-old hot dogs, they find the taste palpable thanks to the price. That, and a whole lot of ketchup. To make things better, the Q.D.C. can now become part of the “Live Below the Line” movement, living on $1.50 a day. They will soon fashion a Viewpoint arguing the key to curing malnutrition in the third world lies with quarter dogs. The State Department will respond they’re trying to help those without food, not kill them.
The freshman:
Occasionally, a freshman will reach May without having developed a full understanding of how flex points work. As a result, they will still have $327.23, to the envy of everyone else. Luckily, this problem tends to work itself out. If their birthday falls toward the end of the year, they’ll just use their flex points to buy mixers and cups for their birthday bash. Their friends will create a seemingly clever dorm party title like “ReggaeTom” or “Katies from Chicago.” Problem solved. Should their birthday not align so perfectly, the upperclassmen in the section will give a helping hand, appropriating the flex points into section funds.
The kid that can’t count:
Despite being the star of their freshman finite mathematics class, they cannot subtract to save their life. Occasionally skipping the tens digit has caught up to them as they come up short at Starbucks. To make matters worse, the barista somehow butchered their name on the latte. Realizing they had only $87 to make it through the final six weeks, they sat down with their accounting major friend and were told some nonsense about budgeting. This conversation is a tragic foreshadowing of a discussion they will have with their parents roughly five months after graduation.

Matt Miklavic is a sophomore studying political science and business from Cape Elizabeth, Maine.  He can be reached at mmiklavi@nd.edu
    The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.