Life as a Commuter: GasBuddy, Wawa coffee and free parking go far for frugal commuter


You close the car door. You strap on your seatbelt. You turn the keys, and it hits you: you need gas. You look at the clock. Phew! You got time, kid. Just hit the next Wawa.

You pull up, and the attendant is smiling at you. He welcomes you in with a gentle hand. You roll down your window and pull out your debit card that is shining angelically in the sunlight. “Hello kind sir, fill it up regular please!” He tips his hat. You then fly off into the clouds. Olivia Newton-John is sitting next to you in the passenger seat waving goodbye to all your friends at Rydell High. I guess that makes you John Travolta … so yeah, you’re dreaming.

Wake up!

As a commuter, a working student, and a human being from Earth, money is important. But, I, like most of us, have none.

Okay, I have money, but not a lot. As an adult, I’ve realized I have these things called “priorities.” They keep popping up, like that guy at the club that stalks your dance circle and won’t stop thrusting his hips at you. It’s like I keep trying to tell my bills, “Uh no, I’m okay, thank you,” but they just don’t seem to take the hint.

The reality is, I’m trying hard to be responsible with my money all while fighting off the constant urge to buy a lifetime supply of BBQ Pringles. I’m a child, I know. But commuting to Rowan has taught me a thing or two. So let’s try this again.

You get into your car in the morning, turn the key, and the needle on your gas meter doesn’t rise out of the red. Your car is so thirsty, the only reason that yellow gaslight isn’t blinking right now must be because the universe has taken pity on you. If you’re like me, you push through a sea of empty water bottles, throw aside a couple receipts and wrappers, search rabidly through the glove compartment, and when a full-blown panic attack hits, you start opening up the sun visors and pushing your seat back in hopes of finding loose change.

You have a check that doesn’t clear till tomorrow, a 9:30 a.m. class and only five bucks to your name. You’re tired, hungry and broke. Welcome to the club; we are accepting donations.

 The cheapest form of caffeine is a good old cup of joe: hot, not iced. You can’t afford the ice cube tax.

If you’re a master in the art of saving, you probably already had your breakfast and coffee at home. If you’re barely scraping by in life, like moi, you’re starving and so is your gas tank. So now you’re at a moral crossroads. Think. What gas station is the closest and cheapest?  A genius website called GasBuddy can help you figure this out.

So you pull up to the pump, smile with your chin up and proudly say, “I’d like one gallon of your finest regular gas please!” Even if the attendant looks like he personally hates you, smile; that gallon is getting you to where you need to be!

Now, breakfast. If a Wawa or 7-Eleven is on the way, stop there. Avoid Starbucks at all costs, that green mermaid is a gold digger.

At this point, you should have at least $2.50. The cheapest form of caffeine is a good old cup of joe: hot, not iced. You can’t afford the ice cube tax. At Wawa, a 12 oz. cup of coffee is $1.29, and you get personal access to a wonderful variety of flavors, creamers and sugars. Wawa got options, bruh! Pair that bad boy with a 69-cent pretzel and some free mustard, and now you’re cooking with gas. Besides, being broke is also a good time to work on that summer body. Who needs fancy eggs Benedict? Wawa’s got apples and bananas for less than a dollar, yo!

Finally your tummy’s fed, your gas tank went from empty to “eh,” and you need to park. But, “past you” didn’t buy a parking permit, so “present you” is screwed. Well, the parking garage across from Rowan’s Communications and Creative Arts building and the RoBo garage both have free two-hour parking on the first floor. If you’re lucky to find a spot, Triad Apartments parking lot is free as well.

You get out of your car and start walking to class. You cross paths with a student in pajamas who clearly just rolled out of their dorm. Sigh. Another day, another commute.

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