My fingers feel like stumps. I'm almost snow-blind (or whatever the digital equivalent of that condition is) from staring at pixels all day long. My butt is screaming: Get offa me! I would tear my hair out — if I had any hair left. Nobody told me that being Jeff Bezos would suck. Nobody told me that when you borrow a celebrity's name, you also get the celebrity's headaches. Ever since I announced to the world that I'm Jeff Bezos (no, not that Jeff Bezos, a different Jeff Bezos), I've been flooded with emails — not one of which is designed to make me one stinking penny, every one of which is designed to get me to give away my "billions of dollars" to worthy causes and to unworthy schmucks. (No, I'm not that Jeff Bezos! Dammit, can't you people read? I'm telling you, it's just a name. It's a shtick, for God's sake!)
At first, becoming Jeff Bezos was the best career move I'd ever made. My site was hit a couple hundred times a day, and I was even named Web Find of the Week. Then I noticed that all of my email was coming from people who had no interest in subscribing to my all-new Jeff Bezos Business Advice Network. My email box began filling up with messages about guaranteed Internet investment opportunities, employee dental plans, "wild" casino experiences, and — "for the first time in the United States" — nonsurgical liposuction. Then there were the harmless head cases:
**Dear "Jeff Bezos": Your rite. Forgit the spining logos and stupis cartoons. A new idendidy is the way too attrac new busines!! You have inspried me too grateness! Yours, "Micheal Eisner"**
I couldn't go to my friend Rhonda for advice: She isn't speaking to me, Jeff Bezos, at the moment. She predicted that the "other" Jeff Bezos would slap me with a lawsuit so fast it would make my head spin. Instead, he's chosen to ignore me. I soon found out why:
**Bezos — Finally caught up with you, you rat bastard. Here's *my* business question for you: Are you ever going to return my leather jacket, or will I have to give *you* the business? Salty Dog**
Salty Dog cross-posted, and now every person on the planet who has any kind of beef with that Jeff Bezos is on this Jeff Bezos's case — and has this Jeff Bezos's email address.
Then, one day, a rock came sailing through the window in Uncle Marty's rec room. Around the rock was a note: "Feature my book in 'What We're Reading,' or suffer the consequences."
I'm desperate. I need to score some cash — soon. What about "Micheal Eisner?" His life as a faux online celeb seems to be working out. So I do something that the other Jeff Bezos would never do: I email "Micheal Eisner" for advice. Micheal's email comes back: **Tuff luck, Jeff! I wuld like to help you, and to do that, I need you to take my free questionair.**
**Micheal! Let's dispense with the questionnaire crap, shall we? I just need to know how I can maximize my time, get my business off the ground, and lose the lunatics.**
**Jeff: For just $39.95, I can make your dream of owning and opirating your own web sit a relity.**
I scrounge up the number of a cut-up credit card, type the damn thing in, and press the send button. Within seconds, I'm welcomed aboard Team Micheal Eisner. Having paid my fee, I'm entitled to resubmit my question. So far, I haven't heard back. I guess Micheal's too busy developing Dinseywurld.
This is episode 16 in The Spy's continuing saga, "Working Behind Enemy Lines." You can visit The Spy online (www.askthespy.com).
A version of this article appeared in the JulyAugust 1999 issue of Fast Company magazine.