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Jimmy the Lock or Break the Window?

(Photo: Jo Amelia Finlay)

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.