Amazon…my tainted love…

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Okay. I confess.

I have five Amazon Echos. And a Dot that goes wherever I go, so I can listen to “nature sounds” or the news or podcasts or whatever I want to help me slip off to sleep.

I don’t like earbuds. And earbuds can’t wake me up to music or answer questions or call my daughter or order dinner or…

You get the idea.

I mean, Amazon sent me toilet paper even when nobody else had any. Or, actually, they’d been sending me toilet paper and other staples for years by subscription. So I had plenty on hand when COVID hit. Free delivery, with Prime.

I have a Fire Stick which is less necessary now that Xfinity has most of what it has . So does my smart TV. But I still find myself using it almost daily. Habit.

And now…sigh…after Safeway and Walmart both kept delivering only half the groceries I ordered (you can’t make a meal from bean sprouts, a cabbage and assorted household cleaning items)…yes, Amazon delivers my groceries, too. Free. From Whole Foods, no less. Two hours after I order.

I wasn’t a Whole Foods fan ’til I started reading the ingredients lists on the items I buy now. They’re healthier and, quite often, less fattening. Not always as tasty…but I’m starting to find stuff I really like.

And of course, if I really need a big box o’ empty calories…you know who’ll send me one, right?

The grocery thing actually started a few years ago when I was super sick one night and just wanted someone to drop a big box o’ soups and Kleenex and cold medicine at my door by morning. Amazon could do that.

And the childlike glee I felt as I snatched open those big boxes full of all the things Mommy used to feed me when I was sick…

Yeah. That’s how they get’cha.

And soon, like so many of us, I just found it easier to “click” on things I needed and wait for my “presents” to arrive. Since they’d arrive about the same time I’d have brought them home from wherever anyway. Only I wouldn’t have to drive or stand in lines or…get dressed, even.

I told myself it gave me more time to write. To…do housework. Exercise. Meditate…

All the usual excuses. And a few kinda unusual ones tacked on in a vain effort to assuage my guilt.

But honestly, it’s not just laziness. And this is the part I hope all you folks out there thinking of starting your own businesses after having to be so inventive over all these “lock down” months will pay close attention to.

Cause it could make you Bezos bank. You ready?

You gotta do things people really want someone else to do for them and do it just the way they want it done. If you can make it free, or make them feel like it’s free, even better. And if you can make it fast…

You feel me?

The first thing is the most important thing, though. It’s like they’re in my head sometimes, those Amazon people. JUST when I think of something I really wish I had or could do…Amazon makes that wish come true.

And because they make it so cheap and easy, I keep going back to them over and over and over again. I’ve even stopped in mid-order elsewhere to see if Amazon has what I’m ordering. So I can use my Prime membership to get free delivery. Fast.

I forgot to mention reliably, didn’t I? Like…well, this morning, before they sent out my groceries, I got a text saying my shopper would let me know if substitutions were necessary, so that I could choose which items to swap out. So I wouldn’t have to go fuming all the way to the grocery store to buy all the things that grocery store didnt bring me, thereby defeating the purpose of “contactless delivery” in the age of COVID.

And that’s a legit worry right there. Not like those moments when I think, “Wow. I need toothpaste,” and just swipe over to Smile — or bark at Alexa — because that toothpaste will arrive the very same day if I hurry.

That’s how effortless Amazon makes it. And at 68 — soon to be 69 — years of age, effortless is a blessing. I also happen to be one of the few people whose allergies will probably prevent me from ever taking a COVID shot. So, I’m particularly grateful.

I’m hoping that people like me have given some other people jobs right now. But then there’s that part of me who knows that working for Amazon can be hazardous to your health, mental and physical.

Hence, the “tainted” thing. I love what they do. I can’t ignore how they do it, though. Like I can’t ignore that it took Twitter and Facebook, two of the places I spend all that extra time, so long to figure out what they were doing to society, too, before Trump forced them to.

So, I didn’t give in to Whole Foods until the third time I had to schlep over to Safeway to get enough food to make dinner after one of those half-assed deliveries.

I do try. But they just make it so easy.

There’s a lesson in there somewhere…

Award-winning former features reporter for the Chicago Sun Times and Arizona Daily Star, HuffPo contributor and author.

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