Friday, September 7, 2007

ad hoc

I had an ear infection last year. I passed a building with a sign stating that an ear, nose and throat specialist had a practice within. I walked in off the street, explained the problem, explained that it was von Privat because I did not have health insurance, was told to take a seat in the corridor, and was seen within the hour.

I had another ear infection two days ago. I walked into Dr Becker's office. Still von Privat, but they had a card with my name. I was seen within half an hour. I went away with the prescription, spent a day in agony, went back on Thursday, making use of the word 'Qual'. Dr Becker said there might be a virus, blood tests were needed; he gave me a piece of paper with the address of a laboratory. I asked for a stronger painkiller and got something I'd never heard of, mmmmmmmm.

The hours of the laboratory were 8-9.30 am, Monday through Friday. I went down to Rathaus Neukölln this morning, walked up a flight of stairs. This time there wasn't even a receptionist: you sat on a plastic chair in a corridor, clutching your piece of paper, and were called in when it was your turn. There were Venetian blinds covering two glass windows. Behind the Venetian blinds was a long room with a series of long tables, each with a chair by it. A young woman asked me to sit down, wrapped a piece of rubber around my upper arm, asked me to make a Faust, and slid in the needle -- I didn't know it was POSSIBLE to be that good. They said my doctor would bill me. I was home by 8.30.

Yesterday I did my taxes. Normally I think: I know I should depreciate that laptop/printer/fax machine, depreciation, can't cope can't cope can't cope well sod it. This time I decided to bite the bullet. I completed a Form 4562! I depreciated a laptop! Method & convention: 200%DB/MM! (That's 200% declining basis/mid-month, for those who have never sullied their lily-white hands with a Form 4562.) If I were not using the equipment primarily outside the US I could have Section 179 expensed it.

Point being. If you are in agony, or even just under the weather, you have a a very small amount of energy to expend on transaction costs. Any kind of bureaucracy imposes a very high mental transaction cost. So if there's a problem that can be addressed by just walking in off the street, you can probably get it addressed. After which you might just manage a 4562.

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