What would you order from Amazon's new grocery project? For some of us, it's almost an existential question. Just as millions of Americans have taken to food shopping as a form of recreation (witness the crowds at your neighborhood farmers market), along comes a plan that treats it as drudgery and promises to relieve you of the burden.
Drudgery? Well, sure, in some cases. But which ones? I have to admit the first time I read about the program, my first thought was: "The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills delivered to my doorstep? Have I died and gone to heaven?"
But wait a minute! Is that really what I want? Half the pleasure of buying great cheese is the shopping experience. You mingle with fellow cheeseheads and compare notes. You taste a little of this and a little of that and flirt, even if only briefly, with changing your mind. You chat up the cheesemonger, finding out that almost invariably, he's incredibly excited about some little cheese you've never heard of. You gently squeeze the robiola, finding the one with just the right amount of ooze.
And it doesn't even have to be that exotic. What about produce? There's probably not much harm in having a stranger choose your iceberg lettuce, but who buys that anyway? My wife sometimes complains that when it comes to shopping even at my neighborhood supermarket, I turn into "Rain Man" when it comes to fruit and vegetables. I have to lift, squeeze and smell each item.
Granted, that's only one side of the grocery shopping experience. The other is, if not drudgery, at least a chore, even for me. There's not a lot of emotional charge in choosing a half-gallon of 2% milk. And then there are all those packaged goods, edible and otherwise: breakfast cereals, sliced turkey breast, orange juice and the assorted items we'll euphemistically refer to as "paper goods."
Yeah, I could do without shopping for that. And if someone were to offer to relieve me of the duty, I would probably jump at the chance, provided the price was close to right -- though that seems highly unlikely; I'm pretty tight with my money.
Again, as with so many things today, it all comes down to how much you're willing to pay for convenience, and how much life's small pleasures are worth to you.