Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Prime Candidate

When I first heard about Amazon Prime, I'll admit I didn't see the appeal.
Amazon has always shipped for free, in my mind anyway. For well over a decade they've delivered just about everything to me for free as long as my order was over $25, so I delayed ordering until my shopping cart was over $25 and then waited a few days for my stuff to magically appear.
I imagine it was much like the magic of fire brought to primitive people, or magical boxes which could capture an image and the associated soul. Over time, my internet-hardened standards became more jaded. My very connection speed improved past a frenzied 56k speed-boosted dial-up into an always-available multiple MB connection and the change removed what remained of my patience. My sense of wonder failed as well. The magic of the whole purchase, wait, acquire process was revealed as a cheap parlor trick, loud noises and flashing lights meant to frighten with no real guidance from the ancestor spirits.
I no longer remember the contents of my early orders from, only that the boxes were delivered amid the loud popping noises of the Earth's crust hardening, cooling like a car engine resting at last in a crowded mall parking lot. And avoiding mall parking lots was definitely one of the major benefits of using the internet for purchases.
Long ago I became used to going online for book purchases and electronics and clothing and, in some cases, food. I also became accustomed to spending $25 or more in order to get stuff shipped for free.
Amazon Prime has changed me.
I can't walk into a brick and mortar store anymore without checking for competing prices online and wondering if I can wait for shipping. And Amazon Prime has removed the $25 minimum and replaced it with free two-day shipping. It actually removed a restriction and added a benefit.
I have to tell you, internet: One time, I ordered a book from Amazon from inside a Barnes and Noble because I didn't want to carry a newly purchased book to the car.
For four dollars I can upgrade the two-day shipping to overnight. This is as close as a human can get to having internet superpowers.
With great power comes great responsibility, though. One time I accidentally ordered a paperback through the one-click purchase feature on my Amazon iPhone app. It isn't that I didn't want to read it. I'm sure I will. I just didn't need it in two days and felt pretty bad about having Joel (our UPS guy) drive down our street to deliver a single paperback. Oh, also I've learned the UPS guy's name. Because I see him a few times a week now. He's kind of like my sidekick in my battle against the forces of not having anything to read. He acts unenthusiastic about it, but I can tell he appreciates it.
My ability to read people is apparently undiminished by my never leaving the house.

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