Where's Gilda Ratner When We Need Her?
Well, let’s just say it. There’s a new type of tyranny invading our land, our homes, our pantries. No people. It’s not the Russians. It’s the tyranny of automatic replenishment. Subscriptions to Bounty, Tide, and dog food, as offered by Amazon and its ilk. Further proof, as if we required it, of the Law of Unintended Consequences which states:
Actions of people—and especially of Amazon —
always have effects that are unanticipated or unintended.
Okay, so the original definition may actually say ‘especially of government,’ but I’m not writing about that. Today. I’m writing about the anxiety perpetuated by a service offering I have championed for CPG since a company called Streamline first appeared on the test-market scene in Boston. It seemed a glorious notion. Never run out of anything. Especially of anything for which it isn’t fun to shop but for which sparks a genuine, if tiny crisis when the cupboard runs bare, e.g. paper towels, laundry detergent, shaving cream, you get the drift.
Here’s the post-modern wrinkle. We don't run out of stuff in 30-day increments. It’s such a petty grievance really. I either run out of Tide pods before the new shipment arrives (if I say send them every 90 days) or I have twice as much as I need (if I go to 60-day delivery). The original vision was for a system of automatic, never-have-to-think-about-it again convenience. The new reality is a constant monitoring of our Amazon subscriptions. I have to remember to delay the dog food this month since I’m in an overstocked position but increase the frequency of the hand soap since we appear to be pumping faster somehow this month.
Tragic, right? Sort of like one of those Emily Litella skits when the Not Ready for Primetime Players ran SNL “What’s all this I hear about repulsive replenishment?”
Still, I’ve unplugged from the service, since with two-day delivery I can be an adult and order when I notice I need to. Oddly liberating, somehow. Probably a new law of physics in here somewhere.