Puzzlements and Contradictions

Amazon grace, how beastly though art…

Linda and I order a startling amount of crap from Amazon, which, in its treatment of employees, is a shitful, outrageous, egregious company.

So why do we do it?

• We live 50 miles from anywhere with a major stores, so buying an item even slightly unusual means a 100-mile, 2-hour round trip. Some of our friends seem to love these rambles – and the roads are gorgeous – but I find spending a couple hours just putt-putting to buy something a mild form of torture. I could be splitting more firewood, or eating toast, or sleeping. Or I might even shake off my lethargy and write something. Like this. (Hey, c’mon, wake up!)

• Burning 4-5 gallons of gas driving 100 miles spews way more pollution that having our little box tucked in with a few hundred others on the way to the post office.

• Amazon gives us free shipping and a 5% rebate on our treasured credit card. Oh, what lovely people!

• They ship damned fast.

• It’s mindless – there’s a 90% likelihood they have the item we want without our having to hunt it down from a reputable company.

All that said, I can’t justify buying through/from Amazon. It makes my ethical toes wiggle.

But if we stopped buying from them, it wouldn’t affect their policies or behavior, in part because (and I hate to admit this), Jeff Bezos set the outfit up to please the customer first in every situation, the workers be damned. The company made almost no return to investors in its first 5+ years; Bezos warned them of this, yet they still whined and bitched through those early years – until, wham, has that investment paid off in the long run.

The only way I see for any of us to get around this shamble of contradictions is to be less concerned about our convenience and more willing to go the extra step to support worthwhile outfits. For example, why do I get wrapped up in the idea of fast delivery? Maybe one time in 10 it makes a difference, but if I had to wait 10 days, rather than the 3 from Amazon, to get an item, would my toenails turn black and drop off?

Life up here is mostly slow, and it doesn’t get any faster if I receive some wacky kitchen utensil tomorrow.

As usual, I’ve presented a bunch questions without answers.

*    *    *    *

What can I do that’s useful?

What am I getting at? I honestly believe there may be something I could do that matters, despite what I alternately and more deeply believe: that none of it matters, and that what I do is just dropping another shit in the world-wide outhouse.

Why would I believe I have the ability to “make a difference” (another term I despise)?

I’m bright. That’s proved by being first in my class from 6th through 12th grade; by being slavered over by classmates who copied my answers through sideways glances in biology tests taken at our lab tables; by being congratulated by friends who say I’ve done Something Exceptional up here in writing local history plays; by my personal conviction that I’ve done something not only Exceptional but Unique in my initial novel.

But what the hell, in daily life I’m just another asshole, and I know it. Yet being an asshole doesn’t mean I’m always an asshole. There are lapses.

What I’ve been thinking, in part, in small part, lately, somewhat lately, is that at age 83 it might be nice if I did something truly useful.

Useful in the wider (widest?) sense.

What could that be, what would that be? I don’t know, so I’m asking you (my correspondent friends), what should I do?

Let’s start with the negatives (many of them formerly reported to this here group):

1) In this age of incessant chatter, I fucking will not post on social media. If I write/present something elsewhere that someone wants to like or link to or whatever the hell on social media, I will not attempt to prevent them or curse their grandparents for their temerity. That’s their choice. (And, yeah, I suppose it could be useful, somehow.)

2) I prefer to look at a whole problem (once my initial knee-jerk shriek is expelled), in balanced terms. That is, I don’t take an extreme position (even though I believe in extremes) unless there is no reasonable alternative, “reasonable” meaning examining the evidence with as little bias as I can exude. So, though avowed leftist (beyond leftist, really), I try to examine the negatives in my own and anyone else’s position. I don’t intentionally lie about what I see, even if it undercuts my position. (Though I’m sure I unintentionally lie, like a tent blown over in the wind.)

3) Much of the time, I can’t stand who I am. It took me a long time to clearly realize that. Growing up, I had no idea who I was and couldn’t dislike myself any more than I could hate the generic “art” crud on my parents walls. But now… I don’t mean I’m a bad guy, so much as that I could have been so much more but chose not to be. It’s not a comforting realization.

 Why place the negatives foremost? I think because everyone in the current wide, shouting world blares their positive trumpet, and that’s the worst lie of all. I want to point out the dogshit you may step in if you try to answer my question, because I’d feel guilty if you unwittingly tracked it through the house.

So on to the positives:

1) As a writer, I’m damned good at what I do. What I do may or may not be of great importance, but there are many others out there – many others – who could not do it. I can (when I choose) present arguments and overviews so they’re comprehensible and, if not complete, at least obvious; you shouldn’t have to look up vocabulary or un earth hidden assumptions.

2) I’m honest (see above). Again, not totally honest, but good god, look at the undeviating crapiness you deal with every morning if, like me, you read the news: You have to suspect that every goddanned thing you read is total horseshit. (With anything I write, the crap component is seldom higher than 25%.)

3) I care. Do you think pontificating pundits care? Do you think Ollie Oligarch cares? Oh, they care about their image, about power, about being adored. But they don’t care about the country, about the world, about what comes next when you destroy or attempt to destroy what came before. They don’t care about human beings in the context of trying to live their lives.

I do. You can believe/accept that or not.

So where was I going? I try to understand that but almost never do. I would, if asked in the abstract, say that I want the world to be a better place. I somewhat believe that. In real life, I’d like to find some way I might possibly make things better.

But I have no clear idea what “better” might look like. It could well mean the extinction of humanity, considering what we’ve done and become. Or it could mean something else.


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