Amazon Prime is a wonderful thing, but for those select few of you that don’t know what I’m talking about, allow me to tell you. Think of Amazon Prime as the “exclusive” member’s only section of the gargantuan online shopping site Amazon. For an annual fee of $79 (in Canada) you can have an incredibly wide assortment of products available on Amazon shipped to your door free within 2 days . . . all with just the click of a button from your favourite lounging spot. Having been just under 12 months since I first became aware of the magic of Amazon Prime (shit, that reminds me my $79 will be due again soon), my usage of the service has grown to the point of ridiculousness. Case in point, the last cardboard box delivered to our front door contained nothing more than a stick of Old Spice “Swagger” deodorant and a refill for my favourite ball point pen. Second case in point, I now make weekly trips to the cardboard recycling depot and I am on a first name basis with my mailman, Pete.
Ordering deodorant and ballpoint pen refills online might sound insane, but nowadays I would much rather click a button and wait 2 days than make a special trip to my local pharmacy only to discover they were out of my Swagger. A man must have his swagger. And let’s be honest, who wants to go ballpoint pen refill shopping on a Saturday afternoon? Not me. But the service comes in handy for much more than simply dealing with my deodorizing and handwriting needs. Christmas shopping comes to mind, as does any birthday, Valentine’s Day, or “Sorry, I forgot about our anniversary” occasions. Checking my recent order list on the Amazon app, I see that in the last 6 months alone, I have purchased everything from a Backgammon set (that game is coming back big time, I swear) to a bulk box of refurbished golf balls (my game has gone to shit this year, another story). Amazon truly makes Walmart look like a the type of corner store where if you’re not looking for Corn Pops or toilet paper, you’re shit out of luck.
I referenced this earlier, but the other great benefit to Amazon Prime is its ease of use. It is literally nothing more than a click/tap, and your order is boxed and shipped to your home address. Nothing more, you tap your phone to confirm your purchase and carry on with your day, knowing that in no time flat you will once again be smelling of the sweet “scent of confidence” (direct from the Old Spice website, and I couldn’t agree more) and/or playing a riveting game of Backgammon with that very lucky friend of yours.
This all brings us to an interesting little situation the Howells household experienced a couple weeks ago. You see, when you combine all the above with poor and negligent parenting of a 6 year old girl, it can be an expensive combination. Over the last year, or 6, I have been known to “help” my 6 year old daughter Olivia fall asleep at night by handing her my phone so she can zone out to mindless YouTube videos. There are only so many times I can read the scintillating tale “Frozen: Adventures in Arendelle”. While Olivia watches kids commercials designed as entertainment on YouTube, I grab some other device around the house and catch up on the latest comings and goings on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. If a friend of mine feels particularly proud of whatever the hell dinner they prepared or ordered that evening, I really enjoy getting to hear about it not once, but three times. It’s a perfect nighttime arrangement for Madame Olivia and me.
On one such night Olivia had asked me about the great Toy fad of June 15-17, 2017 – I speak of course of the one and only Fidget Spinner. The only toy that somehow managed to make Pokemon Go look like a long-term society shift. During that 3 day period, Fidget Spinners were sold out across all four corners of the globe, except for one magical place. You guessed it, except for the online shopping emporium known as Amazon. And this was a good thing too, because as with all things, the scarcer the availability of these damn spinners, the greater the pressure on me to make one magically appear in front of Olivia’s radiant blue eyes. So on this particular night, I showed Olivia the Amazon app on my phone and we perused the various forms of metallic, bedazzled, light-up, diamond crusted, laser-shooting fidget spinners. She scrolled and scrolled, marvelling at the wide assortment of fidget spinners available right before her eyes. But in what proved to be a fateful mistake, I stoked her fire of intrigue by explaining how these wonderful fidget spinners could be magically mailed to our house in 2 short days just by pushing the “Confirm Order” button. Olivia was amazed, much in the same way as when she learned that hot dogs were made mostly from lips and assholes. By the time Olivia was finally asleep that night, 2 such fidget spinners had been ordered for her and her little brother, Jack, for the princely sum of $18, and the 48 hour countdown had begun.
Fast forward to a couple weeks ago. It was a regular old Tuesday morning, I had left early for work, leaving a sleeping household behind me. After I’d arrived at work, my wife Jerilyn called at 9am with an interesting development.
“Mark, had a bit of an interesting conversation with Olivia this morning”
“Go on….” I said curiously.
“Well, just as we were leaving the house Olivia mentioned that she’s really ‘looking forward to her order arriving’”.
“What ‘order?’” I said, genuinely confounded, having not quite yet connected the dots.
“She said she’d ordered some stuff on your phone last night. What does that even mean?”
It was at this point that I begrudgingly had to confess to Jerilyn exactly what I had been doing in Olivia’s room each evening while I was supposedly reading stories and bonding with our first born child.
“You mean you just let Olivia watch YouTube videos by herself all damn night? And what exactly are you doing while our 6 year old daughter’s eyes bleed in front of your damn phone?”
This conversation carried on a good while longer, with me failing to advance my case that in today’s modern world this was a perfectly acceptable way of putting young children to sleep.
“Listen, I have to run here” I said, doing my best to close out the conversation. “I’ll check my phone to see what exactly she ordered. Seems one of us needs to explain to young Olivia the difference between ordering something and paying for something.”
“Seems one of us needs to put our kids to sleep with a little more effort than handing them a device connected to the internet” Jerilyn retorted.
“Fair enough, touché”.
Figuring Olivia had somehow managed to order a couple additional fidget spinners and also figuring that I needed to be a better parent, I pulled up the Amazon app and checked through my recent orders. Sure enough, I had an order from the night prior. It was 8 items and $690. Olivia had outdone herself:
- 1 size XS Dirty Couture gold sequined t-shirt: $125
- 6 Fidget Spinners of varying bedazzlements: $80
- 1 Motorized Barbie-mobile: $485
Grand Total $690
At first I was amazed at how Olivia had seemingly managed to navigate the Amazon app with such purpose, having the language fluency of just a 6 year old. She loved gold sequins, she loved fidget spinners, and she loved Barbie . . .but frankly I wasn’t sure she knew how to spell any of those words. Then the $690 order total fully registered and Olivia’s apparent mastery of the English language regrettably lost its luster.
“Six hundred and ninety goddamned dollars! What the fuck?” I gasped to myself.
I called back Jerilyn and we shared an unexpected laugh. This “order” had Olivia written all over it, which gave us both a little bit of parental pride. Had she ordered a bunch of random shit totalling $690, I think I would have felt genuinely upset, but this felt like a moment to be remembered.
A moment to chuckle about Olivia’s self-expression through an online shopping site.
A moment to reflect on how the hell our 6 year old daughter knew about the high end designer brand Dirty Couture and that the appropriate size for her would be XS.
A moment to be eternally grateful for the final fantastic feature of Amazon Prime I have not yet touched upon, their no-hassle, one click, “Cancel my Order” feature.