Jimmy the Lock or Break the Window?
My first full day in Berlin and I’m off for a great run in 60-degree weather. Only problem: I take my office key, which looks very much like my apartment key. I return to discover I’m locked out and stand around for an hour on the street in my running shorts (since there is no information about a house supervisor or any other contact). Fortunately, a painting crew arrives. I ask one fellow to help me break a window (the apartment is on the ground floor). He says OK, but it would probably cost me €300 to have it repaired; instead, he claims he can jimmy the lock and will do so for €80. I am dubious, but after 45 minutes of hard work, he succeeds (without damaging anything). He was pleased. He may have earned producer surplus of at least €60, as I doubt that he earns as much as €20 (untaxed!) for 45 minutes of work. I’m delighted, got about €220 of consumer surplus, since I would have had to pay that much extra to break the window. This is what exchange is about — both sides gain.