THE FRONT DOOR – Here is another one, a brown cardboard box from Amazon. They are dumped on our front porch almost hourly, because we are Prime Amazon customers. It used to be that the boxes were only delivered by FedEx or UPS, but Amazon figured it could save money by creating its own fleet, too — snappy looking trucks, brown with the Amazon Prime logo on the side. Do you use Amazon? If so, feel exclusive. More than 100-million Americans use the service, with 64 million of them Prime members, which means you pay $119 a year or $12.99 a month so you can call yourself a Prime Amazon member. The average Primer spends about $1,400 a year on orders, non-Primers spend about $600 annually.
Amazon, as you know, is the brainchild of Jeff Bezos, Texas rancher, rocket man, former McDonald’s short-order cook, and he didn’t’ even start out as Jeff Bezos. He was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the son of Jacklyn Gise Jorgensen and Ted Jorgensen. His mother was a 17-year-old high school student, and his father was a bike shop owner. After Jacklyn divorced Ted, she married Cuban immigrant Miguel “Mike” Bezos in April 1968. Mike adopted four-year-old Jeff Jorgensen, whose surname was then changed to Bezos. The family moved to Houston where Jeff attended River Oaks Elementary School from fourth to sixth grades, then the family moved to Florida. While Bezos was in high school, he worked at McDonald’s as a short-order line cook during the breakfast shift. Bezos graduated from Princeton University in 1986 with degrees in electrical engineering and computer science. He worked at a series of jobs, then hatched the Amazon plan during a brain storm in late 1994 on a cross-country road trip from New York City to Seattle, which may be why Amazon is based there.
Other things we should know about him. His maternal grandmother was Mattie Louise Gise (née Strait), which makes Jeff a cousin of George Strait. Bezos’ maternal grandfather was Lawrence Preston Gise, who retired early to his family’s ranch near Cotulla, where young Bezos would spend many summers. He must have liked it there, because he would later purchase the ranch and expand it from 25,000 acres to 300,000 acres. He founded space services companies which makes us wonder about future package deliveries. He originally named his company Cadabra but later changed the name to Amazon, in part because the name begins with the letter A, the beginning of the alphabet. Bezos purchased The Washington Post in 2013 for $250 million in cash. Nobody buys a major newspaper for cash, well, almost nobody. President Donald Trump, ever the wit, calls him Jeff Bozos because the Post isn’t Fox News.
Apparently Bezos’ game plan for a company worked. In September 2018, Forbes described Bezos as “far richer than anyone else on the planet” when Amazon’s market cap briefly reached $1 trillion and his own net worth increased to $150 billion. Then his wife, MacKenzie, discovered Jeff had a girlfriend on the side, and the Bezoses divorced. They did not have a prenuptial agreement, so she received $35 billion, 25 percent of the couple’s stake in Amazon, and she is now the world’s third-wealthiest woman. Poor Jeff was left with only $110 billion, which is where we come in.
Should we buy more through Amazon to keep Jeff from filing for bankruptcy, or at least stake him to some chump change in his bridge games with Warren Buffet (worth $85 billion)? Remember that Jeff has his problems — besides alimony and child support. Some tree-huggers lament that all those Amazon delivery trucks are polluting the air, but if we drive around town from store to store looking for the perfect gift and can’t find a purple spittoon or an Aaron Burr doll, doesn’t that smog up the air even more? Better to scroll through Amazon’s offers. I have my own problem: I want to help the homeless by giving them big cardboard boxes to sleep in. How does Amazon ship them?
Amazon’s takeover of American shopping has led other businesses to go into the home delivery service, so it’s not just pizzas that are being delivered to your door – restaurants and fast-foods, too. Even grocery stores are getting into the act, but I don’t want someone else picking out my lettuce, apples and steaks. About half the time I would have to send them back – mold is so yukky. The big box stores like Target are now delivering goods ordered on line. To compete, will Amazon start shipping hit men, adopted children, cars in boxes? (“Some assembly may be required.”) Given Bezos’ recent matrimonial problems, divorce lawyers? Maybe in a Seattle office a panel of constitutional scholars is working on a Presidential impeachment with next-day delivery. “Best regards, Jeff Bozos.”
All of this shipping by almost everyone is staggering: On average UPS handles 7.6-million packages every day, while FedEx handle 7.5-million daily. Amazon ships an average of 608-million packages each year, which equates to an estimated 1,600,000 packages a day. (As noted earlier, Amazon uses other carriers besides its own.) How many cardboard boxes does this total, and what do we do with them? (If you didn’t invest in Amazon stock, buy companies that make cardboard boxes. Business must be great.) Then there are porch pirates, a relatively new name for a new crime. I order the very last pet rock and am told it has been delivered, only to come home and find no package. My neighbor’s security cameras show a van pulling up to my house and a guy runs out and picks up my package. If the van is brown and sports “Amazon Prime” on the side, I’ll know Bezos is really hurting.
How things would be different if Bezos had make that road trip from NYC to Houston, or even better if his dad had stayed in Houston. What a fancy McDonald’s we would have.
Ashby shops at firstname.lastname@example.org