suburbanite vs. the city: stories in rational ignorance

as an econ student, i spent quite a bit of time with game theory, with a big focus on rational ignorance. in fact, loved it, so most of my thesis revolved around it.  wiki provides a decent enough analysis, but simply put, it’s often more costly/difficult to learn about something than it is worth. the classic example: most people don’t know every platform of their local politician, just enough to make their voting decisions. it’s not that they don’t care, it’s just that there’s a maximum amount of what you can learn.

okay, nerd speak over, application time.

as a 22 year old second year law student**, i pretend to have seen the world, but my naïveté knows no bounds. when i interned on the Hill as an undergrad, i lived in NW, sandwiched between chevy chase and foxhall. i took the metro into town, had my car there, and never actually saw anything resembling poverty.

this summer, i lived in capitol hill and interned in georgetown. just as cushy. except this time, i didn’t have my car*** and had to rely on wmata or my feet for everything. holy CRAP is living in the city a pain in the ass. grocery shopping is the single most absurd task without a car. my choices:

  • walk 800 11 blocks
  • metro somewhere and hope my frozen vegetables ice cream doesn’t melt before i get home.
  • overpay and buy from the corner market. [those familiar with dc: roland’s at 4th/penn se] and hit up eastern market for produce.

option #3 won out after the first few weeks. i’m all about supporting local business whenever i can, so that’s why my roland’s/eastern market deal worked so well for me. i love roland’s, but damn is it hard on the budget.

for every other experience in my life, grocery shopping has just been a routine, albeit enjoyable, task. that’s the beauty of suburbia: there are so many grocery stores around, they keep prices down. that, and so much parking. so i finally figured out why living in cities is so expensive, and it’s not just the housing. the food is absurdly overpriced. it makes sense, i guess, but you’d think that since there are so many people, it’d be cheaper to get the food into the city than it is to get it to suburbs and rural areas. i suppose not.

and there you have it, my rational ignorance part 1: not realizing how expensive grocery shopping is in cities. after that absurd summer, i’m all about not taxing food in cities. just to help the residents out a little more [and it’s not like tourists really go to harris teeter].

** motherofGOD that feels so much better than first year. 🙂

*** she’s sitting in my friend’s garage in new england anxiously awaiting my return for long drives down the cape and routine loving from the mechanic.


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