The "NELoBtB" Edition
I go back and forth between praising Amazon and loathing Amazon. I bet I’m sure not alone in this sentiment. I was trying to get definitively to one side or the other, but after this week’s IRL shopping experiment it seems fated to be both. Maybe forever. Maybe ‘til the government decides to burn Bezos’ butt.
The loathing part begins with fear. Fear that I will live to see only a fraction of the ultimate societal power of Amazon and what it will do to the economy, to equitable manufacturing, consumer choice, commercial real estate, and maybe things like dignity, humanity, and life itself (okay, okay, but actually maybe).
The praise part is obvious. It’s easy, cheap, and fast. But then that part leads to depression. Not really capital D depression, more like, just, it’s really depressing to shop on Amazon, after a while. Like people, it turns out that easy, cheap, and fast are not always outstanding attributes.
It’s on my mind this week because of the post-Labor Day sprint to make some headway on the NELoBTB (Never-Ending-List-of-Bullshit-to-Buy). I decided to go anti-Amazon and get my things the good ole old fashioned way: make a list and go around the neighborhood with two empty fresh direct bags under my arm. Which is also small-d depressing because these online grocers made such a big deal out of getting rid of cardboard boxes for packing, so much better for the environment blah blah, and now there are mountains of these “reusable” bags piling up, from New Jersey to Africa.
Okay you can see where my head is at. It will all be out of my system after Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Anyway, this week’s NELoBTB List included, but was not limited to: Scotch Guard; 3 different sizes of zip bags (don’t worry I don’t use them regularly/am not contributing to the plastic graveyards if I can help it); a particular style of 8” tongs; an ice cream scooper; a particular cat food (anti-vomit formula); a particular lightbulb (ancient lamp, doesn’t take LED bulb); green rectangular scrubbie things with no sponge on the back (rememberer, I’m a cleanfreak).
Hoping for the satisfaction of not playing Bezos’ game, the anti-Amazon efforting proved to be a… sanctimonious, colossal waste of time? I guess I passed the stamina test, but not so much the moral fortitude one. I spent a few hours of drugstore-to-drugstore traipsing. Almost none had anything in stock. In the one or two that did, I dutifully rang a bell and waited for a nice store worker to unlock a plastic lift-up door to make the item accessible.
Next, an in-person trip to Bed, Bath to return an online order (the tongs!) where ordering from their website (to avoid Amazon) led to an egregious argument about refunding an (ultra egregious) shipping charge, caused by a poor user interface with their own online “marketplace,” which I guess was trying to compete with, um, Amazon. Ironically, that vendor turned out not to be affiliated with Bed, Bath at all. So there was no way to return the shittily made, kind of already broken tongs when they were delivered. The whole experience was so Bed, Bath that it was, in fact, Beyond.
On the plus side a successful trip was made to the local hardware store for the lightbulb! Yay. But still, the my-time-to-my-value-to-altruistic ratio was proving to be negative.
Truth be told, there is another reason we are going to go back to Amazon. I will share it with you. It’s very valuable! We now have an Amazon-branded credit card where you get 5% back. Cash! But it’s very Amazonefarious. You can only use the ‘cash’ on Amazon. But it’s the real deal. A dollar for a dollar. So the $100, $1000, or $10,000+ per month credit card bill yields 5% of that for anything on your NELoBTB that you buy on Amazon. My highly satisfactory Oxo ice cream scooper and cat food was free.
Small d- depressing, as much as I loath Amazon, I actually hate Amex and their shitty points system and the fact that it doesn’t work in Europe or Asia. Also I am sorry to burst your possible status bubble, but in my experience the super-richest/coolest people I know bust out their Frequent Flyer or Points-based credit cards at the end of a dinner out, not their super-Black/Titanium/Diamond encrusted Whatever Card.
Well, there’s no need to save up points here. You can feel status-y or use your points to read this week’s Titanium edition of The LZ Sunday Paper. It’s the week’s most important news by, for, and about women, delivered straight to your inbox. Or click here for the Substack. Politics, Pop Culture and everything in between.
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