Amazon is my hero. From the get-go – and I must have been one of its first 5,000 customers – this company’s goal seems to have been to win by delighting its customers. Presumably most of you feel the same way (and I will hear from those who hold a different view), but I am moved to tell you this because of my latest folly – and its resolution.

My car doesn’t start. I always assumed it was because I almost never use it, and the battery just dies of loneliness in the meantime. I get a jump, take it in for a new battery, pay $1,523 for a framis rebalancing I had not realized I needed, and then park it for the next two months, at which time, when I need to go someplace, the cycle begins anew.

(It’s a longer saga than this, and I think may involve alternators and trickle charges – it certainly involves my calling a lot of cabs – but I’m trying to tell you about Amazon, and all you want to do is look under my hood: stay focused, won’t you?)

The point is (and really, in a world of endlessly intriguing hyperlinks, doesn’t focus become ever more a challenge?), I went onto Amazon, rooted around a little, and found a powerpack reduced from $179 to $60 that promised not just to jump-start my car, but to power a fan and a light and maybe a TV – surely my laptop – for a few hours while I wait for the power to be restored. I bought four (don’t ask) and when I opened the first one it became clear that this deluxe item was shipped without a cord to connect it to the wall, and without the ‘inverter’ (or ‘framis’) required to plug in the fan, TV and laptop.

I never return stuff, I just give it away or throw it out, because everyone knows what a pain it is to return stuff. You have to call and wait on hold to get an ‘RMA’ number, call and wait on hold to schedule the UPS pickup, then write out the return label, etc. – hey! I’m a busy guy! I have to think of things that rhyme with ‘redolent’ and ‘pluperfect!’ But my friend and mentor in all things modern told me I was being ridiculous. Just go to Amazon, he said, click on MY ACCOUNT, and . . . well, I’ll be darned. I clicked on my order for the powerpacks. I clicked on Return This Item. I clicked on why and added an optional sentence of explanation. And that’s all there was to it.


Just leave the boxes for UPS, who would be coming to pick them up.

I would not even be charged for shipping (these things are heavy!) because, a message on the screen advised, I had felt the product was not as advertised.

Amazon is not the only company that delights me – Google is another, FreshDirect (for groceries in New York) is a third. But isn’t this amazing?


Joe Cherner: ‘Are you SURE the plane moved?’

☞ Ah. Borealis. Well, yes, I’m sure the plane moved – it would be pretty hard, I think, to fool Boeing and Air Canada’s chief pilot about that. But when and whether anything else will move I cannot say. My sense is that patience is a virtue in a situation like this, and that we hold a smart lottery ticket. Unlike a real lottery ticket, it’s unlikely to be worthless in a few weeks . . . and the odds of an outsized gain (albeit not of the size that would draw helicopter news crews to your lawn) are modest but real. So, since you all promised me you would only buy shares with money you could truly afford to lose – hang on.


Rod Ruggiero: Ok, it’s irresistible.

Cheery blossoms pink
Nitromed is in the red
Summer color green

☞ A perfect 5 x 7 x 5 syllable, season-referencing financial haiku. ‘Cheery,’ says Rod, is no typo.


Carl: ‘The best, I think, was September 11, 2001.’

Richard Theriault: ‘Happy 2500! As a registered Republican for 60 years, I am so FUCKING angry about what the current crop of idiots have done to the party and the country that I have given to the DNC while still trying to fix the GOP from within. It may be futile.’

☞ Let’s hope not. Though they seem to be playing their hand – both domestically and abroad – almost the way I used to play Hearts. Where you know that if you try to ‘shoot the moon’ and fail you suffer a terrific penalty . . . and it’s become clear you miscalculated and you will fail . . . and yet, rather than change course, you just step on the gas and hope for a miracle.

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