Economist vs Accountant

I passed my driving test a few days ago. It was the final accumulation of 15 years spent procrastinating. I initially started to learn when I was 17 in a blue car. I failed a test (for speeding, I was nervous and floored it). I then learned a bit in a red car which was nice but my instructor kept taking me round and round some really big roundabouts and I got sick. Finally I started taking some lessons in a silver car and managed to pass, with only two minor faults. Apparently trying to get into the wrong car at the start of the test does not even count as a minor fault.

So I finally did it at the grand old age of 33. I can now legally drive a car on my own without a responsible adult telling me to watch out for the cyclists. As I was told that I passed the test I let out a sigh of relief which I realised did not reflect what I actually thought about passing my test. I felt relieved because of an erroneous idea that that might be the last time I ever need to get behind the wheel of a car.

I HATE driving. I hate watching others drive too. It took so long to a pass the test because I hate it so much. There are fewer tasks I can think of that are worse than driving for many many hours. I don’t know how people do 6 hours drives. I can’t put myself in a position where my focus is needed for such a long time, otherwise lives will be at risk. This causes me anxiety.

Now I suspect that my driving days are not over, I reckon I have it all to come.

My wife LOVES driving though, well mostly. Enough to want to drive everywhere but not enough to stop complaining that I don’t want to drive everywhere. We hired a van recently to drive out to the end of the country to collect some furniture and I knew I was going to appear in a Channel 5 film for “nearest misses” at some stage.

The wife and I had a debate recently (when I say debate I actually mean she said a load of stuff and I said “OK then”). She likes driving and I don’t. Therefore I will always try to convince her that a train/taxi/bus is the best way to cover long distances. However if often comes down to cost. It costs more to get public transport and that is always the dealbreaker. If more pounds leave the bank via a train than a car then the car wins. Plus we are already “paying” for the car anyway.

I paid a lot of money for this gun, it would be a waste if I didn’t shoot people with it.

Anyhoo I would try to counter the argument by bringing in the displeasure of driving. Some people don’t like being freezing cold so they pay a bit of extra money on home insulation. Some people don’t like dying of flu and so they pay a bit of extra money on vaccines and medicine. Some people don’t like driving so they pay a bit of extra money on trains.


So I am going to try with the Economist view of the situation (vs her Accountant view). Economists think in terms of opportunities rather than absolute costs. Accountants think only in terms of absolute costs. A recent trip would have cost about £120 for the two of us in a car whereas a train was more like £180. In terms of pounds leaving the bank, car wins again easily. However the accountant would not factor in the leisure time lost doing something unpleasant.

I work in order to earn leisure time as well as money. I would like to spend this leisure time doing enjoyable things such as reading, writing, blogging and daydreaming. These are things that can be done on a train and not in a car.

This was a 6 hour drive each way. 12 hours in total. That is another day and a half of work. Let’s say I pay myself minimum wage for this work, that’s about £7 an hour or so. 7x£12 is £84. Add this to the £120 of petrol and then in terms of opportunity cost the train is now the cheaper option.

Alas no, pounds and pence are all that matter.

So I am now on the brink of a world where I am going to have to work more hours to earn my leisure time. There may be hope. Perhaps my license could get lost in the post, or I could go blind, or perhaps, oh no wait a second I’m going to have to stop blogging now and hide my laptop as a policemen is signalling me to pull over.