Breakfast of Champions

I’m thunderstruck. Amazon, my favorite place to shop online–and if you don’t believe me, read my post, Addicted to Amazon–has kicked me to the curb. Yes, you heard right. My supplier, my source for just about EVERYTHING, has sent me what amounts to a  “Dear John” letter.  An email, to be exact, and the message has left me completely and utterly flabbergasted.

It seems the cereal they have been shipping me for the last five years is no longer available. Discontinued. Manufactured no more. Swimming with the fishes.  And, in case I still don’t understand, they add: It’s over!  For added effect, these last words are underlined and written in bold.

Now, if I want to eat my cereal, I have to get it from the likes of Tony Soprano.

WTF??? How can this be? I was so faithful to them, ordering my six-box supply every three months like clockwork.  I had a standing order. They had me on automatic pilot thanks to Amazon’s “Subscribe and Save” plan, which knocked an additional 15% off the price. So I thought we’d go on this way forever.

Sometimes I’d run out before the next shipment was due, but one click of the mouse, and Amazon would ship my order instantly, no questions asked. We had an understanding. Or so I thought.

I cannot begin to express the crushing blow this has been for me. This product has been my favorite breakfast indulgence since the summer of 2004, when I was first introduced to it while summering in Key West. In an instant, I was over the moon. Not only was it deliciously refreshing,  it also had magical powers that helped keep those pesky, high cholesterol numbers at bay.

But now, my cereal is gone. We had our good times, our laugh-out-loud times. And what do I have to show for it? Nothing, but three boxes left in my pantry.  I will treasure them and savor them slowly. Perhaps I’ll even save the last box for 2014, the 10-year-anniversary of the day we met along the Key West beach, just 90 miles from Cuba.

Of course, I blame the manufacturer.  Though perhaps I should have seen the writing on the wall, back when all the local grocery stores, one by one, stopped carrying my cereal.  The reason for its sudden disappearance from the store shelves I was told, was because there are so many cereals available. Mine, it seems,  was an under performer and needed to be retired to make room for the newbies.  Under performer? Why my cereal performed very well, thank you very much! Always tasty, always reliable.

Nowadays, my cereal bowl is empty. My cup no longer runneth over.

I called the manufacturer about this unexpected turn of events. The woman at the other end of the line sounded a bit exasperated–perhaps she’d been receiving many calls like mine? Wearily, she notified me that I could still buy this product on Amazon.  Amazon? Why, of course. Amazon sells everything! So Amazon became my dealer, my lifeline for five incredible years. And now, in the blink of an eye, it’s over.

Though in a recent visit to the Amazon website, I noticed that they still carry my cereal. Only now it’s sold by one of their independent sellers, which I’m assuming is code for The Mafia, as now the going price has tripled.  TRIPLED! Plus, add to that a $21 shipping fee. We’re talking black market prices!  Is the cereal coming from Columbia and being brought into this country by drug mules?  I wouldn’t doubt it. All I know is that my cereal has been hijacked and taken underground.  Curse you, General Mills!

Yet, no matter how much I know I’m going to miss my cereal, I just cannot bring myself to pay these black market prices. It’s plain wrong.  Besides, I saw The Godfather and I watched The Sopranos on HBO. I know that nothing decent comes from messing with the Mob. The Cosa Nostra, if you will.  I will have no brush with organized crime. Not even for a bowl of the best cereal that was ever made.

And so closes another chapter of my life. Goodbye, my morning companion! You were too good for American palates. Indeed, too fine for this planet.  Find solace in knowing that you brightened my mornings. In your honor, I will leave an empty cereal bowl in my window. You are gone, but not forgotten. At least, not by me.

Addicted to Amazon

I have an addiction and before we go any further, you should know, I don’t plan to give it up.  Yes, I am addicted to Amazon.com. They make it so easy.  They bend over backwards to keep you happily connected to them, while seemingly oblivious to all the money you’re spending, so that you want to shop there.  Again and again.  I imagine the folks who work at Amazon gather in a large meeting room with their mugs of Seattle-brewed coffee and put their feet up on the table (people who work in web jobs tend to be über casual) and come up with a slew of ways to make connections with each customer. Well, whatever they do, it works on me.  They had me at hello.

Here’s why:  Amazon makes me feel like we’re in a relationship, emailing me everyday, noticing what I buy, what I like, complimenting me on the wise shopping decisions they say I make, then making recommendations for me based on past purchases. “As someone who has purchased fiction from Amazon, you might be interested in…”  They never ask if I actually had time to read all the books I’ve ordered.  No guilt, no making me feel bad about the stacks of books piling up, waiting for me to read.  They just want to make sure I buy more.  My inbox is filled with emails they send me.

Amazon is also like having an executive assistant: they remind me about birthdays so I can buy Amazon gifts from the recommended list.  I don’t have to even think about what to get, Amazon takes care of that for me.  This comes in handy, though I do wish they could also remind me about upcoming doctor appointments, when my car’s oil needs to be changed and when I need to make an appointment with my hairdresser because my roots are showing.

Say what you want, but I really enjoy shopping on Amazon, especially since I became a Prime member.  Prime means “first in importance” which is what I must be to them now that I’ve plunked down my $79 a year for this service.  I’m always guaranteed two-day delivery, except on the weekends, or I can get overnight delivery for an extra $3.99.  No sooner do I click to make a purchase that it’s boxed and shipped out in minutes.  No fuss, no muss.  No chance to change my mind! It’s as if they’ve assigned me one person to be at the ready for when I’m shopping on their web site.  Someone who’s never asleep at the wheel, a job I would fail miserably doing.  I click and they’re already processing my order and withdrawing the funds from my bank account. Seconds later, the email arrives that my order is ready to be shipped.

The iPhone, makes it’s even easier to buy on Amazon.  The other night I was watching The Daily Show and Jon Stewart was interviewing an author whose book seemed intriguing.  I picked up my iPhone, went to the Amazon app and found the book.  Then I just clicked “Buy Now.” There’s no need to add it to my shopping cart, no need to sign in.  Amazon knows me.  So I just click “buy now” and voila! The book is on its way!

You can buy just about anything from Amazon.  My friends laugh at me because I buy my cereal on Amazon.  I’m on the Subscribe and Save plan for my cereal and also my vitamins, which means I get 15% off and I set the terms regarding when they should send me my next shipment (about every two months).  And if I need them faster, I can click “Ship Now.”  I could explain why I can’t buy my cereal locally, but that’s another story.

I’ve been an Amazon enthusiast (to call me a “customer” doesn’t capture the depths of this relationship, if you ask me) since November 30, 1998.  That was when I made my first purchase, some holiday VHS tapes, which clearly dates me and my relationship with Amazon.  Since then, Amazon has supplied me with countless books and supported me through my transition to DVD’s.  Amazon also sold me a 40-inch HD TV, followed by a blu-ray player, orange sandals, a filter for my air conditioning unit, several pedometers, a Hoover vacuum cleaner guaranteed to pick up pet hair and so much more.

Let it be known:  if it exists, you can probably buy it on Amazon.  And that’s why I’m sticking with my addiction.