You are a free-rider. Repeat this to yourself each night before you go to sleep. Free-riding is good. Never pitch in. Never vote. Never do a good deed (unless someone who can reward you is watching). This is the first and most important thing you must learn if you are to become a professional in the economics community. If we were a religious order, this would be our creed. When in doubt, free-ride! Let me elaborate: It is our cherished assumption that agents maximize utility and our deep and abiding faith that altruism does not and cannot exist.
Therefore, if you volunteer for something, you must be an idiot. Or mentally ill. Or both.
If you clean the communal coffeemaker, you will never, EVER be respected by your colleagues. (You will notice, of course, that no one ever does these things: We finally had to get rid of the coffeemaker because it was full of sludge). Does this mean that the graduate lounge will always be a disgusting pit, that Sweet ‘N Low packets left out in the open will always be stolen, that anything that has not been bolted down and equipped with burglar alarms (including water-cooler bottles) is apt to disappear, mysteriously, in the middle of the night? Does this mean, in short, that an economics department will always be dysfunctional? Are we doomed? Will we remain a chaos of hostile egos, each of whom would sooner curse the darkness for all eternity than be the first to light a public candle?
Yes, it means exactly this.
But we are rational agents, and that is our solace. Let the History department stoop to crass functionality. Let sociologists drink their department-brewed coffee. Let them laugh at us, as we waste time and money at Café Roma. Let the English majors enjoy their spotless lounge, and the Cultural Studies department their fresh water. We don’t need water or coffee or clean carpets. We have something more.
We are rational. We know more math. We can take everyday commonsense ideas and turn them into unrecognizable gibberish. We are rational agents. And we’ll stay that way if it kills us.