Seattle has always struck me as being the most autism-friendly city I visited in America. There are many reasons for this, for one thing, the weather is extremely agreeable, being chilly enough so that I have an excuse to wear my sensory-lovable gloves, scarf, and coat, it’s relatively walkable, but the transit systems are cheap and easy to figure out, and include ferries (Yay, water travel!) there’s lots of cultural, artistic, and scientific activities to do on the weekends, there’s a great variety of restaurants ranging from cute little hole-in-the-wall crepe places to tea houses to five star restaurants, and there are lots of jobs available which are aspie/autie friendly,* and there is Amazon Fresh, which I am going to talk about today.
My (neurotypical) sister lives in Seattle and dates a guy who works for Amazon, and I saw an Amazon Fresh truck parked near their apartment. I asked what it was, and the explanation blew my mind: Amazon now has a fresh food home delivery service to certain Seattle ZIP codes, and are rapidly expanding across the city. They offer just about anything you could ever want that you’d find at a regular grocery store, the site is easy to navigate, and you can shop by brand or category (dairy/gluten free, kosher, organic) as well. My sister’s boyfriend said that some Amazon employees even depended upon Amazon for *all* of their daily needs now that it covered food shopping as well as everything else they could want.
I’ve written before about what a nightmare most grocery shopping is for me. The light is blindingly bright, the tiles reflect the brightness and are filled with dirt and scum which drives my eyes into a frenzy, and the whir and hum and squeak of refrigerators, lights, freezers, carts, and other machines means my ears go into overdrive as well. I live close to a grocery store, but the trek becomes a pain and a hazard in frosty weather, and there’s only so much I can carry over long distances with my scoliosis. Not being able to drive adds to this, if I go to a grocery store that’s further from my house, I ride the bus, but it becomes a nuisance to carry all those bags on the bus and not have them slip away or get bumped and bruised by other passengers. What Jaime and I sometimes do if we have a load of bags is to set aside $15 for a taxi, and then take the bus to the grocery store (no bags) load up on groceries, then order a taxi and take it home to avoid this. But that’s a hefty expense in and of itself which adds up.
Shopping services Amazon Fresh would save me so much daily stress, anxiety, and sensory overload if it came to Victoria**. I could do my grocery shopping online, have it delivered to my house, and not have my back or brain hurt. I am rooting for Amazon Fresh to be a runaway success, and I can imagine that there are already a lot of disabled people taking advantage of the service in certain Seattle ZIP codes. I hope to soon join them.
* Incidentally, Seattle has one of the highest rates of autism diagnoses amongst children in the United States. I say all those autism friendly jobs mean a migration of auties there who settle down, marry other auties, and have autie kids. Some say it’s because there’s a higher rate of good medical practitioners there. Either works, make if it what you will.
** If anyone who works at Amazon is reading this, please take this as the initiative to talk to your boss about expanding into Canada, right now.