The other day, I went to a lawyer networking dinner in Pasadena with my girlfriend, Amy. She asked me to be her date: to rub elbows and drink blended margaritas with too much ice and not enough tequila.
She asked… expecting me to decline.
Because most of the time, that’s what I do.
Amy knows me better than I know myself.
She knows what it means when I get quiet… or talk too loudly… she knows EXACTLY what I’m thinking when someone starts talking about what “they deserve” (e.g, a good job, a good salary) after earning a piece of paper after four years of delaying the real world.
So she knows when she asks if I want to go do something (drink blended margaritas, go to the beach, eat froyo) I’ll act like I’m considering it… but what I’m really doing is opportunity cost calculus.
Here’s what that calculus looked like when she asked me to this dinner:
“Well, I’ll take an hour train ride into downtown Los Angeles where she’ll pick me up
Then it’ll be a half-hour drive to Pasadena
We’ll be meeting these people who aren’t in my industry, so it’s unlikely any long-term relationships will come out of it
(plus they’ll probably be way older than us)
We’ll eat food, make small talk, listen to some speeches for two hours
Then get in the car and drive 30 minutes back home
At which point it’s 9 p.m., and I know I can’t work after 8…”
“So going to this event = an opportunity cost of 4 hours of work.”
Then I think: “Well, shit, 4 hours is lot, to hang out with a bunch of people I’m never going to see again…”
This happens in the pause after Amy finishes her sentence.
She catches it (and I catch her catching it). It happens in a blink but it’s still noticeable, like flicking on-and-off a light switch.
Opportunity cost calculus is something I do several times a day. It is, without a doubt, the thing I hate the most about myself. [click to continue…]