Needless Necessities: Amazon Delivers 100 Million Items Like Masks and Ventilators to the Front Lines, And Lots of Totally Useless Crap to the Rest of Us


Since launching a b-to-b service in late March dedicated to those on the front lines of the coronavirus fight, Amazon says it has provided more than 100 million items to workers, including masks, ventilators, surgical gloves and sanitizers, as CNBC reports. It's not making a profit on those products — yet one more example of a brand doing good during these weird and perilous times. (Ad Age has been keeping an excellent, comprehensive running tally of these companies — check it out here.)

I don't know about you, but I'm doing my own part to make up for Amazon's lost profits and to ensure that business keeps flowing to the world's largest e-tailer and its boss, aka the richest man in the universe. How? By purchasing every little thing off Amazon I've ever even passably considered acquiring for myself.

Acacia cutting board as big as your sofa? Check. That weird David LaChapelle coffee table book from like 20 years ago, full of arty pictures of naked and otherwise compromised celebrities? Check. Scented soy candles? Kiehl's "Rare Earth" man masques? Gardening tools? Protein bars? Mala beads? An Amazon Echo? Yep, I got 'em all, finally stopping myself (for now) before ordering those padded, butt-enhancing drawers they keep serving me ads for on Instagram for some reason.

Apparently, I'm not alone in my quest for grown-up Christmas every day during this quarantine — the mailroom of my apartment building is awash with packages at all times (I swear it looks like the last scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark down there), but never more than over the last few weeks. I've spotted everything there from workout equipment to patio lounge chairs to an espresso machine to an entire living room rug — even the rare bulk pack of paper goods — all ordered up by my fellow oppressed, homebound neighbors, the large share of it from Amazon. And I'm not even counting the dozens of grocery deliveries every week by way of Whole Foods, part of the Amazon family.

A question: Do we really need all this stuff?

The answer, of course, is no. Granted, many of these deliveries contain essentials like food and toilet paper, but I think we could all live quite comfortably without a photography book or patchouli candles (though the prayer beads couldn't hurt right now). Let's face it: Most of this stuff amounts to straight-up, self-pampering, yuppie consumption that, while not exceedingly conspicuous, is nonetheless nonessential.

It reminds me of that Absolutely Fabulous episode in which PR maven Edina Monsoon tells her daughter Saffy that she actually wouldn't mind at all if she chose to lie around all day scarfing snacks and watching TV instead of going off to college: "Frankly, in my business we need that kind of person."

Despite Steven Mnuchin's dire warning that states not lifting their lockdown measures could lead to "permanent economic damage," if my mailroom and the steady volume of UPS, USPS and FexEx trucks up and down my block are any indication, those of us increasingly addicted to home shopping, home delivery and all this totally needless crap are doing our part to keep the red, white and blue wheels of commerce spinning.

Now, might I interest you in a dozen boxes of fast-expiring Pure Protein Peanut Butter Bars?

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