On the morning of October 30, 2017, our group conducted its first survey of the Amazon HQ1 in Seattle, Washington. We produced a banner which contained the following question: JEFF BEZOS = SOCIOPATH? We provided a ballot-box marked with the phrase VOTE HERE and set out 200 hundred printed voting ballots to be checked YES or NO. This was day one of our survey of Amazon HQ1. Over the course of four hours and at two separate locations, we observed the following:
1: The vast majority of the Amazon employees we encountered (around 90%) smiled and/or nodded in agreement when they read the full text of our banner. We were wearing friendly masks to conceal our faces and luckily this did not prevent these Amazon employees from finding something exciting in our simple question. One employee stated “I can’t vote” before walking away without any further engagement. This person, we noted, was smiling. A convivial and friendly atmosphere hung around our banner and nothing but good vibes were produced from our interactions with these Amazon employees. We gathered that none of them wanted to be recorded casting a vote by their vindictive overlord Jeff Bezos. Many of these employees silently mouthed the words on our banner and after realizing it said SOCIOPATH, their eyes would grow introspective before a sudden revelation which resulted in smiles, chuckling, and laughter.
2: It took less than fifteen minutes for our presence to be noticed by Amazon security at our first location in front of the Community Banana Stand. There were two types of security involved in monitoring our presence. The first were the working-class private security guards contracted by Amazon who wore black clothing. After an hour at this location, one of the employees approached us with a lit cigarette and proceeded to ask us about our banner. She then informed us that someone had reported us to security for being “threatening.” After quickly determining that our threat level was 0%, this security guard left us to continue our survey. A second group of well-dressed Amazon officials also monitored our presence. One of these men, after speaking with the private security guards, attempted to defend Jeff Bezos and the reputation of Amazon. This occurred at our second location in front of the new Doppler building.
(Voter turn-out was highly supressed)
3: In the four hours during which we conducted our survey, we received a total of five votes. Of those five, two voted NO, two voted YES, and one provided a question mark (?) symbol. From their Amazon badges and our conversations at the voting box, we determined that three of our voters were Amazon employees, while the other two were not. As was mentioned above, voter participation in this attempt at democracy was suppressed by the vindictive and watchful eye of Jeff Bezos. Of the estimated 1500 people we engaged with, only 0.3% of them felt safe voting beneath the surveillance cameras that hung directly over our heads at both locations. One local who did not work for Amazon explained that Amazon only retains 10% of its high-paid tech workers because of it relentless demands, thus accounting for the general approval of our banner and the concise question it posed.
4: There were two reoccurring questions we encountered during the study. One question came from service workers (security guards, food service, janitorial workers, bus drivers, etc.) and can be synthesized as follows: Who is Jeff Bezos? Upon learning Jeff Bezos was the CEO of Amazon, these service workers would then re-read our banner and nod in approval. The second reoccurring question came from a variety of people and can be synthesized as follows: Why are you asking this? When we explained the various reasons posed by The New York Times, The New Yorker, the Reuters News Agency, and The Guardian, there was little to no response from these participants. They conveyed a surprising level of neutrality or numbness to the information we provided them.
This is the first of many studies our group will conduct at Amazon HQ1 over the following days. We will share with you our findings from each study session and will then synthesize it for your personal enrichment in the hope we can make sense of it all.