Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
I wonder what the mood is in Seattle this weekend.
After Amazon's decision to withdraw from its presumptive position as King of Queens, Jeff Bezos's company is desperately trying to ensure it's not seen as the bad guy.
Or, at least, not the worst corporate guy in America.
As an Amazon customer, though, a Prime one -- along with the other hundreds of millions of Prime ones -- I wanted the company's guidance on how I should feel.
So I followed its Amazon News Twitter feed, desperate for some reassuring commentary.
Would there be a statement from Bezos himself? Would there be some special discount on products from New York companies?
There was relative silence. Actually, there was a strong deviation from mentioning anything about it, other than to tweet the announcement in the coldest terms.
Following that, there was a tweet about the Amazon's solar energy plans and the Seattle snowstorms.
I needed guidance, Amazon. Finally, on Friday I got it.
Did you know that you can tour more Amazon fulfillment centers? Check out the locations and reserve your spot.
Would this be a fulfilling experience? Would I discover a Truman Show of happy faces and cheery boxing?
Naturally, I clicked on the link. I discovered lanaguage I could never have imagined coming from Amazon:
See the magic that happens after you click 'buy' on Amazon.com by touring one of our fulfillment centers and seeing first-hand how we deliver for our customers.
See the magic that happens.
This did sound like Disney World.
Yet even with this, there's a slightly perturbing quality. I expected to insert my zip code, in order to see where my nearest Amazon magic fulfillment was to be found.
Instead, Amazon wanted my email address, so that it could contact me about my reservation.
I didn't want to make a reservation necessarily. What if my nearest fulfillment center was 40 miles away? I'm not going to travel that far for magic. I have a Six Flags that's closer.
This didn't, by any chance, mean that there were only a few fulfillment centers that had reached magical status, did it?
As I was pondering this, I was interrupted by new Democratic Congresswoman and occasional scourge of Amazon, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Amazon News had retweeted a response to a critical tweet of hers. The response came from Dave Clark, Amazon's SVP of Operations.
First, the Ocasio-Cortez tweet:
Is that culture of 'strict performance' why Amazon workers have to urinate in bottles & work while on food stamps to meet 'targets?' 'Performance' shouldn't come at the cost of dehumanizing conditions. That's why we got rid of sweatshops.
Now, Clark's reply:
.@aoc these claims simply aren't true. We are proud of our jobs with excellent pay ($15 min), benefits from day 1, and lots of other benefits like our Career Choice pre-paid educational programs. Why don't you come take a tour & see for yourself...we'd love to have you!
You see, Amazon wants Ocasio-Cortez to go on a tour too.
This is clearly the company's secret weapon.
They take you on a tour, you see smiling faces -- and no one urinating in public -- and you're sold. So sold you'll want Amazon to build a headquarters at the bottom of your street.
Amazon has garnered a reputation for ruthless, robotic insensitivity.
It may or may not be fair. It is, though, at least partly, the company's fault.
After all, when you're accused of inhumane practices and then you pay employees to tweet about the glories of fulfillment centers, it's not a fine look.
So AOC, I know you're busy, but when should we pay Amazon a fulfilling visit?
I hear it's magical.