Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The future is now!

Goose and I were getting ready to entertain our first guests. Four of his friends were coming down from Warwick to stay the weekend at ours for a belated birthday celebration. There was lots of fun surprise stuff planned - go-karting and an electronica concert, for starters. But this also meant that we would have four more people in our house than normal. Six people in a 60 square meter apartment with one bathroom, for two nights.

My usual organized planner-self would have been on top of this. I did make sure we would have enough guest towels and bedding...but beyond that, I don't know what happened. My foresight completely slipped.

So it should have been no surprise to me that I was rushing around that morning, tidying up the place, making it ready for our numbers to triple.

Unfortunately I hadn't made sure we had enough real food and drink in the house to entertain four people. It's a birthday weekend...drinks, drunchies, and hangover breakfasts were going to be needed. 

Being a small person in a European country can sometimes be hard. On the one hand, it's great because everything here is a lot narrower and smaller, so you fit in (minus being short, which is a disadvantage almost everywhere, it seems). On the other, it can be tough getting those daily tasks done by yourself, even when unemployed. Especially things like heavy grocery shopping. The closest grocery store is about 0.7 of a mile away from our house, and it is way more expensive than it needs to be. I won't shop there unless I really don't feel like walking and I only need stuff for a day or two. Not the kind of place you go to to entertain four people and yourselves for two days. The rest of the good, large grocery stores are about a mile away. Most do not have particularly good bus routes from our house.

In any case, my point about being small is that I have a limited carrying capacity. On a good day, if I'm feeling energetic and strong, I can probably carry a large backpack and two medium heavy grocery bags for the mile walk home. On a very good day. My back, arms, and hands usually smart for an hour or two afterwards and I might be a bit sore the next day, but I'll make it.

I'm fairly certain though that I could not do that for the things we needed this weekend - a bottle or two of wine, some bottles of cider, large amount of milk (for all the British people who drink tea several times a day and require milk in their tea)...you see my point. It was pretty much all liquids except for the bags of crisps we would also surely need.

But I hadn't planned well enough in advance to get them with a normal online grocery delivery where the latest they let you order is 48 hours in advance...sometimes. Most of the time you book a delivery slot a week in advance, maybe 5 days if you're cutting it a bit closer. So online grocery shopping from our normal retailers was out.

Then Goose reminded me that we share an Amazon Prime account. This also includes the most ridiculous service ever called Amazon Prime Now. 

I am fairly certain this only exists in large cities because to support it otherwise would be madness. Similar to how in a few cities you can get drones to deliver packages to you within a few hours. Here in London they are also testing little rover robots in Greenwich to deliver packages. 

Amazon Prime Now is like that, but with a real driver. And you can pay him/her £7 to get to you within the hour you're ordering. Otherwise it's free Prime delivery within a few hours (you can pick 3 hour windows for them to arrive). It was 9:15am when I put in my order through the app. By not requesting it before 10am I paid nothing for delivery (though I did tip the driver as part of my bill). Everything I ordered arrived at 10:45am. To my door, with the nicest driver, Howard.


All the groceries I needed minus some fresh meat products (bacon), eggs, and cake...to my doorstep, in an hour and a half. For free.

The prices of the groceries weren't even ridiculous. In fact, they pretty much rivaled anything I could buy from a normal grocery store - online and brick and mortar. The crisps I ordered were still £1 a bag, the wine anywhere from £5-7 per bottle, the pack of cider was actually cheaper at 4 for £3.50.

And I could see real time updates about my order. As soon as I submitted, a map showed up, detailing the warehouse where my order was being packaged, and what part of the order they were on (e.g. packaging, ready for pickup, etc). After the stuff was all packaged, I was not only told the name of my driver (Howard) and given the option to call him any time, I could also track on the map, where he was at all times with my delivery, so I would know when he was going to literally arrive at my door.

All of this for free with the Prime account. 

And it isn't limited to groceries. One weekend Goose ordered a new PS4 game that had just come out. It came to us within 2 hours. It was literally cheaper and faster than downloading it on the PS4 store directly to his console. And we have a fiber connection here. Cheaper and faster to have a physical human being package it from a warehouse and drive it to us, than to download it over fiber internet.

This entire thing just blows my mind.

The future is most definitely here. What's next? 

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