Did you know you can buy just about anything on Amazon.com?
It doesn't matter if you actually need it or not, the lure is always present. You may not have ever thought of that particular item. You may have never seen one before. But suddenly there it is on your screen and before you know it-- you've hit that BUY button.
For example, long long ago I read a graphic novel (long comic book). It was a particularly good one but I hadn't thought of it in years... nay, decades. Then one day the Amazon website, having read my mind (or alternately, having dug up every nuance of history from the day of my conception), presents this photo on their website:
Ah, Thanos, one of my favorite comic characters ever. Universal evil despot and genocidal-maniac-turned- repentant due to his falling in love with beautiful Death (shown here in her less-beautiful appearance). Beauty and the Beast. Well, kinda.
So, there it is at a massive 10" tall, $21 (with free shipping!) suddenly gone from my account. But that's not all, because ya only get the free shipping when ordering $25 or more worth of goodies... and I'm $4 short. So although I don't really need anything, the sudden necessity of meeting $25 becomes paramount in my life. You know how it is. This is where the insanity starts to set in.
I'm wondering what I could possibly need that I can find on Amazon to accompany this order. NOT TO FEAR! There is never any shortage of items-at-easy-access to add to your order, some of them at amazingly low cost.
For example, if one happens to be a fan of Lilo and Stitch you can find this little goodie just a few clicks away:
This lovely little Stitch iPhone case is part of what is commonly referred to as "cute overload"... and is irresistible to collectors of such things. Add the fact that it's less than $4.oo (with free shipping!) and one realizes this is a must-have. The only drawback is that I don't actually own an iPhone... but when has that ever stopped an avid Amazon shopper?
Wait though, that still doesn't quite equal $25; I'm about 16 cents short. But lo and behold looking down further on the page I find this neat listing enticingly titled: "Customers who bought this also bought..." showing an entire truckload of items that their astute marketing has determined I will likely buy because I just added this item to my shopping cart. And guess what is in among those items?
Now that I had Stitch, I couldn't let him be by himself, now could I? He'd get lonely. So adding this lovely companion to the order brings it up to about $28... well over the $25 requirement to get free shipping on all three pieces! Woohooo!
Now gratified, I prepare to hit the CHECKOUT button when it suddenly occurs to me, hey... I'm at the $25 free shipping level. That means things that I further order will also have free shipping! With subdued maniacal laughter I check on the "what else can we sucke.. uh... interest you in" list. Surely there is something else that I can no longer live without, especially for FREE SHIPPING!
Sure as Amazon restocks hourly, I quickly discover...
What? Seriously? An L-shaped USB to USB-micro adapter for $1.47... and FREE SHIPPING??? Do they jest? How can I pass up such an incredible bargain?! And after all, I'm still under $30. Why, this is an amazing investment. I don't really have an immediate use for an L-shaped USB to USB-micro adapter... but one can never tell when such a device will come in handy. Why, it would be almost irresponsible for me to not take advantage of this offer, especially while I have free shipping available!
However, that's not really a FUN item. This was supposed to be a shopping excursion for the fun of it. Well, in truth it wasn't supposed to be a shopping excursion at all. I just got sucked into it as surely as a mouse gets sucked into a Kirby. But now that I'm here I might as well get down to some serious shopping. Besides, only four items in the shopping cart seems like such an incomplete number. If you don't have FIVE items, you're not an Amazon expert. So what else, what else...?
What? A Wheatley keychain from PORTAL 2? My favorite computer game of all time??? I can't pass this up! I know it will add $15 to my order, but who knows how many of these they have before they run out. This will surely become a collectors item. And the handles even move! This is nothing short of awesome and will be the envy of everyone who sees it. That is... if they've ever played Portal 2. If not they'll just see a wierd looking sphere on the end of my keychain and, knowing me, figure it has some obscure and weird meaning. Little do they know the true nuance of universal geekdom.
Click. Carted. Surely I'm ready to check out now. But just as I get ready to hit that button, my eyes happen to glimpse something that simply cannot be ignored...
Okay look, not only is Chell the main charcter from the same game, and not only does she happen to be carrying a light up LED Portal Gun-- which is one of the most awesome devices to ever hit the computer gaming industry... I also happen to be male. Trying to pass up a highly-detailed Chell figurine for 25 bucks is like Godzilla trying to pass up Tokyo. It's just not going to happen.
Okay, so it almost doubles the cost of my order. What is money though in the face of absolute awesome? Seriously, ladies, could you pass up a life-like Brad Pitt figurine? It's like that. Or so I suppose.
So I gladly add this to my order. Convinced that I now have everything that I really need and cannot possibly do without, I prepare to click that fateful BUY NOW button that will seal my fate and bring about several days of anxiety waiting for delivery. But before I do, out of the corner of my right eye I see the edge of the screen, where they have thoughtfully listed other items that I might be interested in if I were to actually see them on the screen. And surely enough, based on the fact that I've just ordered a Thanos figurine, Wheatley memory core, Stitch and Stitchette iPhone covers to use as wall decorations*, and a Chell action figure, Amazon has cleverly deduced my next major weakness. Finding that weakness, they have breached the chink in my non-armor and demanded my next wallet-sacrifice...
What can I say? It's a Dalek. It's 8.5" tall. It has glowing lights and a motion sensor that causes it to say EXTEEERMINATE! whenever someone passes by. And I had the perfect place to set it: on top of the short bookcase in my hallway, right where my sister passes by when she visits. Yes... this would be a masterpiece of true Amazon shopping genius, an expensive but essential part of any science fiction fan's collection.
Doctor Who is without doubt one of the best modern science fiction series to hit the screen. The lack of quality in its production, the ludicrous scripts, the gaudy sets, somewhat B-class special-effects and over-the-top anything-goes acting... work together somehow to make this one of the most enjoyable series I have ever watched. So who can resist having an actual copy of his greatest nemesis sitting on a shelf... just waiting for an innocent passerby to unsuspectingly trigger into active mode?
(Yes, when the Dalek screeched at her my sister actually stopped in her spot, turned around and saw the Dalek, took one look at me-- sighed in resignation-- and admitted that was one of my better moments.)
But... with a DALEK sitting on the shelf, who is now going to protect Thanos, Stitch, Stitchette and Chell from this extremely dangerous cyborg? Fortunately Amazon came to the rescue, for I found the perfect answer to my dilemna!
YES OF COURSE! THE PAPO CROCODILE WARRIOR! WHAT BETTER CHOICE COULD THERE BE???
This fine specimen of reptilian strength, speed, agility and fearlessness is the perfect combatant for an out-of-control DALEK. With his sharp sword and teeth as well as his trusty croco-hammer, not to mention his lethal tail and protective armor, surely this is a match for any Dalek in the universe! Why, just look at the detail! Any Dalek would be envious!
KACHING! Amazon makes another sale... and my bank account dwindles. Now up to about $80 I'm wondering if checking to see what's on Amazon was all that great an idea. Still, considering the number of pieces in the order, plus the fact that I'm getting FREE SHIPPING on the entire lot... well, it would be almost foolish of me not to take advantage of such a fine offer!
Lest you think I only shop Amazon for oddball figurines or trinkets, let me assure you I do serious shopping there as well. I purchase some of my computer equipment, audio equipment, and anything-I-can't-find-locally items there as well. But this trip I will be content with the above toys fine-art-quality decorations. Quickly, before I change my mind, I hit the BUY button, my card is dutifully charged, and the agonizingly-long wait for 5-8 day delivery begins. In the meantime I will keep myself entertained with Inworldz and DVDs, waiting in anticipation until the essential packages arrive.
The next day I wake up, make a double-size cup of coffee because I was up until 1 a.m. ordering the above items, and sit down to read my email. There at the top of the list of new mail, sits ominously the expected follow-up:
"Your order has been shipped! While you're waiting for delivery, perhaps some of the following suggestions-- based on your current order-- may be of interest to you."
To my credit, I did check my bank account balance before clicking the link.
* For the record yes, seeing as how I'd already purchased two models from the "Stitch iPhone Cover" collection, Amazon did actually present to me yet another model of Stitch iPhone cover (apparently there's a whole set )... but I do have some dignity. It's not like I'm impulsive or anything.