OPINION COLUMNS

Life in the fast lane: musings of a peanut butter-fueled college student

By David Talley | Published Saturday, July 19, 2014

A college student leaves Lubbock travelling east at 75 miles per hour. How long before he arrives in Decatur?

I’ll save you the math – my record is 3:57.

I blow through countless small towns along U.S. 380 between Post and Decatur. Most aren’t more than a flashing yellow light and a Dairy Queen.

On my way home for summer break, I saw flashing blue and red lights in my rearview mirror near Bridgeport.

The police officer was courteous. He asked me how I didn’t notice that I was driving significantly faster than everyone else.

After noticing the double T on my window, he understood.

“You college students, you always feel like you need to get everywhere fast,” he said. “Not everything is a race.”

I took his sage words to heart for the final nine miles of my drive, trying not to elicit the attention of any other law enforcement officers.

I was walking my family’s dogs later that week when I realized he was right. I would’ve never slowed down to do this at any point in the last five months.

Between classes, projects, homework, training and trying to maintain some semblance of a social life, it’s no wonder college students always seem to be in denial of posted speed limits.

This is the first time I’ve been home for more than a few weeks since the summer of 2012, after my freshman year at Texas Tech.

When you’re on your own away from home, you go into survival mode. Mine consists of surrounding myself with lists for every possible situation. I have to-do lists for each day of the week, calendars on my phone, computer, and wall. I have financial charts with my current bank balance ready to subtract the cost of the next grocery store visit.

Sometimes the numbers don’t add up. When that happens, I ride my bike to Plato’s Closet and sell clothes. My wardrobe has progressively become simpler over the years, but my stomach is staying full.

Apples slices and peanut butter have proved to be the most efficient meal supplement, both in terms of cost and nutrients. This selection can be credited to my mother, who made sure I ate a serving of fruit every day when I was young.

I can credit Mrs. Parker’s AP economics class with teaching me the concept of marginal analysis. I’ve been applying the system of analyzing the costs and benefits of each choice I face each day when I weigh the ease and timeliness of driving to an event against the low price, but generally sweaty result, of commuting via bicycle.

These are both choices I haven’t had to make since I’ve been home. I’m pleased to announce that I haven’t sold any clothes and that I’ve only eaten peanut butter as a snack, not as a meal.

The college life has been hard, but these survival tactics have become second nature. I’ve loved living in the fast lane, but it’s not something that can be sustained forever.

I slowed down my truck between Bridgeport and Decatur and avoided that ticket – but I slowed down my life after I arrived, avoiding the burnout of the college lifestyle.

Thanks, Bridgeport Police Department, for teaching me a life lesson and skipping the citation.

David Talley is a student at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, and a summer news intern for the Wise County Messenger.

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