Pandemic Journal, Entry 3: Jeff, Interrupted

Jeff Bezos was a genius with the pallet wrapper. His flair for efficiency allowed him to wrap five more pallets per day than his predecessor who had made the job-killing mistake of uttering the word “union” in front of a co-worker who everyone in the warehouse knew had the corporate tip line on speed dial. 

Jeff looked across the vast warehouse at pallet after pallet of toilet paper, and sighed.

Wrapping TP in a Nebraska warehouse hadn’t been his plan when he started The World’s Largest Bookstore (he could no longer say the company’s name without weeping uncontrollably). Sales had been brisk, and the bell that rang in his office every time a book sold soon took on a taunting insistence that slowly drove weaker souls mad. Jeff took note and raised the bell’s volume.

Evenings, he and his ex would stroll through Seattle, and each time they passed an independent bookstore they would smile at one another, murmur “disrupt” and share a chaste kiss.

His growing empire wasn’t profitable, and there were missteps. Jeff’s vanity project, a self-published 20-volume set of his musings on management, translated into Mandarin, flopped and would have caused the company to miss payroll had he not fired 20% of the staff. He wasn’t heartless, though, and gave each departing employee one of the 20 volumes along with a hearty pat on the back.

It was the knives that killed him. Not him. And not literally.

Books weren’t enough, and an evening walk brought him to a kitchen store where he gazed at the knives shimmering in the window display. Involuntarily, he murmured “disrupt.”

The next day a pallet-load of knives appeared at the warehouse. Back in the office, the bell rang incessantly, whispering to Jeff, “Cheap knives, cheap knives. More profit. More profit.”

The screams that echoed across the warehouse were louder, as unpackaged knives unexpectedly flew down the conveyor belts. Fingers littered the floor. As pickers stared at one another in fingerless disbelief, blood soaked packages continued to slide down the conveyors. 

The bell kept ringing. 

Jeff didn’t know it at that moment, but the bell was tolling for his empire. 

Now, a thousand miles away from the investigations, lawsuits and criminal indictments, he wondered, “Is it lunch time already?”