I have a love-hate relationship now with Amazon. The big dot com, not the rainforest or the river or the impressive mythological women that stir my imagination and brought us Wonder Woman.
It all started last year when a parallel universe collided with ours. A rift opened near me, and for a few hours Parallel Universe Wes and I switched places. During that time, Parallel Universe Wes did a lot of weird parallel universe things as me. He had conversations that made sense. He showed no interest in quantum field theory. He exercised. He switched me from cheap lager to merlot. He subscribed me to The Washington Post. He joined Amazon Prime. He started buying stuff online.
Fortunately, Parallel Universe Spock intervened and got us switched back, because it was the logical thing to do, but some things didn’t go back exactly the way they were. I still exercise, and I’m still a member of Amazon Prime. I have e-books.
It’s affected me in other ways. So two or three times a week I now walk across town from the International District to the Denny and Westlake Whole Foods just because Parallel Universe Wes started me doing it. I buy cartons of pasture-raised eggs, eat a healthy organic in-store salad and walk back.
On the way back from Whole Foods, I look at what I have come to refer to as Jeff Bezos’ Balls. The glass spheres at Sixth and Lenora. I’ve tried a couple of times to get inside where all the exotic plants are and was turned out because I wasn’t an employee and didn’t have a reservation. “But I exercise! I’m a paid member!” My cries only win me fleeting expressions of pity that quickly shade into revulsion from the greeters who block my way.
I just wanted to sit under tropical plants and listen to Rachmaninoff on headphones. Is that asking too much?
By the way, Amazon Dot Com, you are not the rainforest, OK? Stop trying to establish a connection with it. The rainforest takes care of the people who live in it. It shares its wealth. You are also, as I said above, not the river and not Wonder Woman.
A couple of days ago Anitra “Differently Attentive” Freeman told me she learned about a guy whose job it is to clean the outside glass of Jeff Bezos’ Balls. He lives at one of the official tent cities.
A couple of days ago Anitra “Differently Attentive” Freeman told me she learned about a guy whose job it is to clean the outside glass of Jeff Bezos’ Balls. He lives at one of the official tent cities. I thought, there’s this week’s irony. It was about the same day that Amazon announced they would put a construction project on hold until the city council backs off the Employee Head Tax proposal.
The EHT would tax Amazon 26 cents per employee-hour to pay for shelters, homeless services and housing. Because Amazon’s operations in Seattle draw people to the city who drive up the rents and add immensely to the crisis of homelessness, such as their glass washer is dealing with, and so it is fair that they pay a relatively small tax to help out.
But no, they say the tax is too much, and to show it they are threatening to stop construction that would have employed 7,500 workers. I say “threatening” because everyone who has heard of this, with the possible exception of our mayor, realizes the threat is a bluff. They are not really going to stop the construction permanently.
I was going to drop a couple paragraphs right here doing the math to put the impact of the EHT on the poor afflicted dot com into perspective. But then Amazon announced they were raising the fee for Amazon Prime by 20 percent in December because it’s better now and it’s “worth more.” So now I’m just thinking, yeah, living in a nice city is worth a lot, so they can pay more to keep it nice. It’s for sure not gouging them by any 20 percent.
Speaking of paying your way to live and work in the Big City, if you want workers to wash your windows for so little pay that they can’t afford to live anywhere but a tent city, and if you don’t want to pay taxes for the privilege of being so irresponsible, the least you could do is sell a $7.99 bottle of not too bad red wine at your foo-foo store every once in a while.
Maybe two Saturdays a month by reservation.
Dr. Wes Browning is a one time math professor who has experienced homelessness several times. He supplied the art for the first cover of Real Change in November of 1994 and has been involved with the organization ever since. This is his weekly column, Adventures in Irony, a dry verbal romp of the absurd.
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