After getting my notice of another Amazon Prime subscription price increase, I’m realizing that I either need to start using it for more than watching 10 episodes of The Grand Tour a year or get rid of it. I signed up way back when Prime’s major benefit was two day shipping on books. Although it offers many more features now, I find I’m barely using it for any of them. With many of items I’ve bought from Amazon recently not making the 2-day shipping window and/or being damaged to some degree in packing or transit, it’s starting to feel like less of a bargain overall – especially when Amazon has opted to push it over the $100 price point.
I’m well aware that arguing over the value of $21 per year increase is patently ridiculous on its face, but there’s just something about that three-digit bill that really sets me wondering just what the hell I’m paying for and if it’s actually worth it. In all likelihood I’ll just go along letting apathy and inertia carry it along, but don’t let that in any way be confused with my willingness to bitch and complain every year when that $120 bill shows up in my list of financial transactions… because I still want my dented and damaged crap showing up in two (or three or four) days.
I supposed that’s what Amazon has been counting on all along.
1. The cold. Whatever tolerance I built up for it during my formative years in the shadow if Savage Mountain has been worn away by too much of my adulthood spent in the south and along the flatter lands of eastern Maryland. This shows itself in my current situation of sitting inside with the furnace running flat out, wearing two shirts, a sweater, and wool socks, and wondering where one goes to order a nice set of long johns. I use to think the North Woods of Maine might make a nice place to end up… I’m afraid I’m going to have to reconsider this position.
2. Why aren’t we talking about “Topic X more?” I read an article online a few days ago complaining that we were no longer laser focused on whatever happened to be the Issue of the Month a couple of months ago. I’m sure all the previous Most Important Things are still important. Personally it’s that I have limited RAM to allocate to the whole universe if things there are to give a damn about. It’s allocated to work stuff, stuff to keep the house up and running, getting from here to retirement, a few things I’m passionate about, and then one or two crises of the moment. That’s it. The world has always been full of problems that need solving. 100 years ago we only saw the ones we happened to walk past. I really don’t think the world is any more in the shitter than it was back then. The only thing different is now we can find out just how jacked up things are in every corner of the world instead of only our little part of it.
3. Shipping Address. There’s an agency in the federal government that I order products from every year. The products are billed automatically and shipped out as soon as they are released. Easy peasy. Except no. This year, the first of these was scheduled to ship out to an address where I haven’t lived in three years. I have no idea. Fortunately I caught it before processing was complete. They couldn’t manage to change the address of an order “in progress” but at least I got it cancelled before it arrived safely to whoever is living at my old address. As turns out, their ordering system was picking up the old address because you have to change the shipping address in at least two places on their website. Instead of just clicking the button that says “change address” under your profile, you also have to go in and change your address under each individual product. I ended up entering the address in three separate locations in addition to the correct address that was already built into my online profile. That seems incredibly counterintuitive, but then again it’s a federal website so perhaps it’s not at all surprising… although that doesn’t explain how the shipping world out ok last year. Sometimes it’s best not to ask.
1. The value of time. In the final episode of the HBO series The Tudors, an aging King Henry advised his closest friend that time was the most tragic of all losses, because it “is the most irrecuperable for it can never be redeemed.” So it is… and it would serve as a solid reminder for the great and the good to be mindful to start – and stop – their proceedings in a timely manner. While they may be lord high shits in their own collective minds, you can stake your last greenback dollar that I don’t value their time any more highly than I value my own.
2. Automatic Tire Pressure Sensors. I started driving back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and the only way to know the pressure of the air in your tires was to check it manually – which I mostly did consistently each month unless one appeared to be low or otherwise in need of attention. Flash forward to 2014 and I’ve got a handy little sensor in each tire now that blinks a bothersome orange warning light whenever one of the tires has fallen out of standard. To put more of a fine point on it, this event only seems to happen precisely at 6:32AM, in the dark, when it’s 6 degrees with the wind chill making it feel -10. I’m sure that three extra pounds of air I put in the tires this morning was important, but I’m just now starting to feel my fingers again. All things considered, the damned sensors are more trouble than they’re worth.
3. Online Ordering. For the second time in as many weeks I’ve called to check on orders with two separate companies only to find that “oh, there was a problem processing the payment.” That’s not a huge deal, of course, but it would have been useful if they had at least made an effort to contact me and let me know the thing I was expecting to show up wasn’t on the move to its destination. No email. No phone call. Not a word until I went sniffing around wondering why shipping a package out suddenly took almost a week. A little basic customer service is all I expect. Just a touch. The tiniest show of interest would be appreciated… but that’s clearly a bridge too far.
1. Nature. I’ve never made any bones about not being a hippy tree hugger. I like the idea of the outdoors… as long as it’s neat, and orderly. Wandering around in the woods looking for a place to poop isn’t high on my list of things to do without a damned good reason. I like to think of it as the difference between enjoying an English garden and enjoying the rain forest. Both have their role to play in the great scheme of things, but I really only need to be involved with one of them. Being a practical man, I know that I need nature to cooperate with me from time to time, though. Basically, what I need it to do is stop throwing thunderstorms around every afternoon so I can get some stuff done outside. Stupid nature. Why can’t we control that foolishness yet?
2. Lunch. I use to enjoy a wide range of lunch options – assuming you consider a score of fast food joints and gas station sandwich shops different enough to count as “a range.” Part of my furlough survival plan was to reduce the cost of lunch by bring it from home. It doesn’t sound like much at first blush, but $200 odd bucks a month adds up respectably over a few months. Now that I’m bringing chow from home, I’m thoroughly bored with everything. I’m philosophically opposed to being one of those people that brings in home cooked leftovers to reheat for lunch (throwing good food in the microwave is pretty much on step above reheating it on the engine manifold – sure it’s warm, but it probably tastes like ass), the options do tend to dwindle. There are only so many ways to be creative with salads and sandwiches when you don’t run your own deli counter or just happen to keep a lot of exotic ingredients on hand. When this furlough is over, I may never touch finely sliced roast turkey breast again. Ever.
3. Shipping. I’ve never exactly been known for my patience and I’ve been spoiled by features like Amazon Prime that default all of my purchases to 2nd day delivery. For a few dollars more, I can arrange for an item to be at the house in less than 24 hours. That’s the kind of service that makes me happy. Then there are the surprising number of things I order online that don’t have an Amazon Prime-like option for rapid shipping. They want to take my money, wait two or three days, and then get around to shipping my item by standard mail so it will take an extra three or four days to arrive safely on my doorstep. Maybe it’s just me but a seven day interval between flash and bang feels a bit like an eternity. They say patience is a virtue. Apparently “they” are idiots.
At least once a week, UPS shows up at my door with something I’ve ordered from somewhere. In all those orders I’ve never once had a problem with the delivery address showing up wrong on their website. After calls to both Apple and UPS, their website stubbornly insists that my iPhone 4S is going to be delivered to Elkton, Delaware. That’s a problem for two reasons: 1) I don’t live in Delaware and 2) There is no such place as Elkton, Delaware. The street address is right. The zip code is right. It’s just the damnable server refuses to update the state. Everything was right with my original order (yes, I checked three times to make sure the shipping address was right and even had the nice customer service people at Apple pull it up just to be sure). But somewhere between Apple and UPS we’ve apparently had a failure to electronically communicate. And I’m just paranoid enough to believe that this is going to cause a delivery delay. On any day but Friday that would be obnoxious, but correctable. In this case, delivery is scheduled on Friday so the correction wouldn’t take place until after the weekend. If you’re in any way obsessed with getting your hands on new toys at the earliest possible moment, you understand. If your phone is just another appliance, well, I don’t think I can explain it.
I did get to have a relatively nice conversation with a gentleman from UPS Air Cargo in Louisville this morning. He assures me that it’s just a glitch in the website and the actual manifest shows delivery to my actual address in Maryland. I’m mostly inclined to believe him since he rattled off my correct address before I told him what the issue was. Still, I’m now both obsessed and paranoid and that’s not a great combination of ways to spend the next three days. Maybe I’ll call tomorrow and see if I get the same story. Or I could just drive to Louisville, pound on the door, and ask them to hand it over.