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Life Lessons

I Hate This Stupid Amazon Hub In My Apartment Building

me flicking off my amazon hub
Kelsey McKinney/Defector

Today is the day Americans shop, which means that starting in about two days my life will become even more of a terrible hell than it already is. This is all thanks to my new enemy, the Amazon Hub.

No one is going to stores this year, are you kidding? That means that all of the silly little things everyone in my apartment building buys today (including me!) will begin to arrive early next week to ruin everything. The packages will arrive in a flood, and suddenly all hell will break loose.

You see, this time last year, my apartment building got us an Amazon Hub. As this building is all renters and not condo owners, we had no say in the matter. It simply arrived one day and we were emailed to be told that it would be our new best friend. The Hub is a giant metal locker. It is probably eight feet long and six feet high. The tallest lockers are too high for me to reach, which is the least of my problems. The way the Hub works (in theory) is that you get an email when a package arrives and then you travel all the way to the basement of the building, punch in a little code, and a door swings open where your package is being kept safe and sound.

Theoretically, if you can suspend the knowledge that Amazon is an evil corporation that treats its employees like shit and that tracks the private actions of citizens (which I personally cannot), the Hub might be a good idea. In fact, we got the Hub after a break-in.

Before we had the Hub, delivery workers put the packages in a closet underneath the stairs. This closet had a lock that used the same key as the front door so it was convenient for everyone, but also meant that anyone could just forget to lock it. My apartment is not unsafe. It is a nice apartment. The neighborhood I live in is not particularly high in crime. But holidays are a great time to do some theft. Everyone is getting so many packages.

A couple of years in a row, someone followed a resident in the front door, went to the package room, and (because the door was unlocked) stole some packages. This is annoying. It sucked! One year, it also embarrassed me when this happened because I had just won a little trophy for one of my dumb stories and the thieves opened that box but left my trophy, knowing it was worthless. The police, unsurprisingly, were absolutely useless at helping with this.

So this is how we ended up with the Hub. On the surface, it seems like a good idea. And for most of the year, it pretty much works as it’s supposed to. But during the holidays everything goes to shit. For one thing, the Hub rapidly fills up, requiring our building manager to move packages that have been in the Hub for more than 24 hours into the old hall closet, as before. Also, the delivery workers often do not know the Hub is even in he basement.

This means that now, instead of casually telling a delivery person to just walk down the little hallway and put the boxes in the closet, they have to go into an elevator, emerge into the (fairly spooky) basement, and input all the individual packages into the Hub’s system. This is time consuming. It also seems like it is extremely not the delivery driver’s job. I asked the USPS man what he thinks of the Hub the other day and he said, “Pain in my ass!” Which, same!

There are a couple of extremely annoying things about the Hub. The first is that only one package door opens at a time. So say you have four packages. Each one you must wait for the door to open. This is not such a big deal, but it is a small inconvenience. What’s more of an inconvenience is that the Hub does not accept big packages, and my apartment gets a lot of big packages because a lot of dogs live here and they get their food delivered.

That means that a terrible series of events happens. One delivery person who understands the system puts most of their packages in the Hub, but leaves the dog food boxes in the lobby. Another delivery person comes later, does not know about the Hub, and drops the packages in the lobby with the dog food. So now some packages are in the Hub, some are in the lobby (which is worse than the closet!) and some (somehow!) are still being placed in the closet. The other day, there were also packages lined up underneath the mailboxes for a reason I don’t understand. None of this is the delivery people’s fault. They are just trying to do their already difficult job in a building that has created chaos.

What we have here is one of those classic instances of a big, stupid tech company making people’s lives a little bit more difficult than they previously were by providing an elaborate solution to a problem that did not exist. People who live in buildings like mine have been successfully receiving packages in the mail for as long as buildings and packages have existed. Some of those packages were unfortunately stolen. That’s life! But it is not a reason to allow an awful tech company to impose a new, more complicated system that only succeeds in 1) still providing plenty of opportunities for packages to get stolen and 2) making everything more confusing.

The Amazon Hub doesn’t protect us. It protects a limited number of packages. I do not know how much my building pays for it to exist, but I am certain it is less than they would pay a concierge who could monitor the front lobby and take the packages. My friend, who lives in a building managed by the same company in the same neighborhood, has never had packages stolen from her lobby because she has a concierge.

The Amazon Hub is there to provide peace of mind. But guess what? It doesn’t. What gave me peace of mind was when my very nice neighbor would bring up one of my packages from the closet and set it by my door. Or when I could do the same for her. Instead, I am now just burdened with a terrible surveillance device run by Amazon that I am certain is logging my packages, and no idea where any of my packages are.

I hate the Hub!!!!