After rustling up a Metro card, I was able to launch into what will hereafter be referred to as “Bitcoin week” (a phrase I type with a shiver). Getting food wasn’t actually too bad, because there’s a website called Foodler that is basically like GrubHub or Seamless, except that you can pay for “FoodlerBucks” with Bitcoin and then order your food from there. Although it’s a little disconcerting to rely on a website called Foodler to keep your body and soul together, it worked out for me.
Another website I used was called, I kid you not, Pizza for Coins, and is pretty self-explanatory. And while the prospect of using Bitcoins to order Domino’s seems to confirm some unflattering preconceptions that many hold about the average Bitcoin user, the website appears to be fairly successful.
One problem was that I didn’t really find the prospect of ordering delivery for breakfast to be very practical, so I ended up just eating from the bottom half of a bag of Tostitos Hint of Lime tortilla chips for my morning meal about every day. (I didn’t have that much food left over from the previous week.) I also had some remnant gummy vitamins from my pre-Bitcoin life, so I supplemented with those. Journalism is very glamorous.
At one point during the week I had to get some things for my apartment at Target, which, incidentally, also doesn’t accept Bitcoin as a payment method. So I got an understanding friend from college to pay for my stuff, and I sent him Bitcoin reimbursement the next day.
The low point of my Bitcoin week was definitely the second-to-last day, a Monday, when it rained. I lose umbrellas like it’s my job. I’m almost to the point where I want to get one surgically attached to my forearm; also, if you ever find one in a D.C. cab, please let me know because there’s a good chance that it’s mine. Naturally, I lost my last umbrella right before Bitcoin week started. On Monday it rained, so I had to get soaked on the way to work because, though I probably could have found some kind soul on the Internet who would have mailed me an umbrella for Bitcoin, there was no way to get one in Columbia Heights at 8:30 a.m. This was not amusing.
Besides living on crappy delivery food and being powerless at the hands of the weather, the only serious inconvenience about living on Bitcoin was that no bars in D.C. take it. It’s theoretically possible that one or two do, but I looked really hard and couldn’t find them. I even called a bunch of the Capitol Hill alcohol purveyors — Bullfeathers, Tortilla Coast, Hawk ’n’ Dove, Capitol Lounge, Tune Inn, and 18th Amendment — and picked up on a consistent motif of bartenders’ not knowing what Bitcoin is. Their loss.
But thanks to the kindness of my friends, I didn’t have to teetotal for the entire week. One day I went to a libertarian happy hour in Clarendon, and as soon as people found out I wasn’t drinking because Whitlow’s on Wilson doesn’t accept cryptocurrency, I became highly familiar with the libertarian iteration of compassion. The main downside that night was that Whitlow’s is right by a Trader Joe’s, and there is nothing I can think of that’s more fun than having two to four drinks and then going to the grocery store. You find the best stuff in your pantry the next day. Sadly, Trader Joe’s doesn’t take Bitcoin either, so I had to miss out on that simple pleasure, and I was pretty down about it.
All in all, I would describe the Bitcoin Life as nasty and brutish (mostly because nobody should have to eat Tostitos for breakfast) but tolerable. I’m not hoping to get my salary in Bitcoin anytime soon, and I still don’t exactly know what it is, but until we get lightsabers and flux capacitors, Bitcoin will have to do.
— Betsy Woodruff is a William F. Buckley Fellow at the National Review Institute.