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55 Days: The War of Attrition

Today marks day 37 of the 55 Days competition at Café 210 West. Over 700 students set out to conquer the ’55 Days’ this year but after five weeks, that number has dropped to 286.

Last year — the fourth year of the contest — 157 names were engraved on the plaque. This year is likely to break that record.

Yesterday I signed up for the free t-shirt set to be given to each student who completes the contest. It was a great reminder as to why I’m spending all of this money, I guess. All I know is that my name will forever be etched on the wall of Café and I have a t-shirt to prove it. To quote my good friend and recent 55 Day dropout, Brian Spencer, “You can’t put a price on immortality.” But you definitely can and it’s about $200.

Here are a few lessons I’ve learned about this competition:

  • Pace Yourself (Physically). This is a marathon, not a sprint. 55 straight days of drinking is a bold strategy and will most likely result in dependency. It’s okay to get a soda. The kid you saw back in March drinking three long island pitchers on a Monday afternoon is likely out of the running.
  • Pace Yourself (Financially). 55 days is a long time and nothing is cheap. (Even a soda is $2.07) Moderation is essential. There are going to be times where you get multiple drinks and possibly food. You need to balance that out by having one-drink days or that bank account is going to diminish, fast. I know, it’s not easy.
  • Play The Specials. Café offers daily specials that can help ease the cost, particularly the daily happy hour from 9pm – 11pm (except for Friday when it’s 6pm – 8pm). Happy hour is the best time to go, because drinks and appetizers are both half-price.  The specials aren’t all that cost-saving but there are hidden gems throughout the week like the $2.50 burger baskets on Mondays and the 50 cent wings on Tuesdays. The deals definitely get less enticing as the week goes on which I think I learned about in a business class somewhere along the way. I see what you’re doing, Café.
  •  Make New Friends. Several friends joined me in competition back in March. During the first two weeks we would all meet up and grab drinks or lunch or whatever. It was a great time, but slowly they dwindled. Now the large majority of them have thrown in the towel. 55 Days has a high failure rate. But if you’re in it for the long haul, you’re not going to have someone to go with on each day. Make a new friend.
  • Go Early On Weekdays. I’ve adopted this strategy and it’s worked well for me. If you go to Café before you have to be somewhere, then you’re forced to leave and spend much less. If you go after your classes on a Monday then you’re much more susceptible to getting sucked into a beer pong tournament and buying drinks after Happy Hour is over. That’s not a route you want to go down.

So far ’55 Days’ has been a blast and I would do it over again in a heartbeat, but I can’t say there haven’t been days where I really didn’t want to make the walk. The school year is winding down now and finish line is in sight. If you’re still in the contest, stick it out — you’ve come way too far to back out now. A month from now you’ll wish you were back out on that patio.

This weekend is going to be hectic downtown with all the Blue/White festivities. If the weather is warm, Café will be a madhouse. In an effort to minimize the chaos, they are allowing students to sign-in for free on Friday and Saturday from 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. All you have to do is stop by and check in. No purchase required. The 55-dayers save money and stay out of the way while the alumni come back and spend much more money – it’s a win for everyone.

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