Do you ever look at Amazon listings and see items so obscure you wonder why anyone would ever buy them?
Well, there might be a reason for that beyond a simple ‘people have really weird tastes that we’ll never begin to understand’.
Journalist Meagan Day might well have ended up cracking the code of some of those bizarre listings – and all completely by accident.
It all began when she saw some felt hats listed on the marketplace site by a seller going by the name ‘Russian-Bear’. The hats were listed as being suitable to wear to a sauna, and they said ‘Oligarch’ on them in Cyrillic script.
Day thought it would be funny to buy them for her friends. Seems pretty normal so far, right, aside from the question of who might want felt sauna hats with the word ‘Oligarch’ on them in the first place?
BOY DO I HAVE A STORY FOR YOU. I tried to order some felt sauna hats that say "oligarch" on them from an Amazon seller named RussianBear, for me and my friends who like to sauna, like as a joke (though I actually really wanted one) pic.twitter.com/uRZGzTKVFx— Meagan Day (@meaganmday) January 25, 2018
So, what do you reckon happened? Perhaps it’s a funny story about her ordering six hats and getting just three, or getting a hilariously large number of hats show up at her door.
Or maybe there was a hilarious typo. Maybe she’d shown it to a Russian friend and found out it didn’t say ‘Oligarch’ at all, but rather something much more embarrassing.
Oh no, it was neither of those things. Those would have been entirely ordinary compared to what actually happened…
I mean how do you react to such a thing? Like this, probably.
Once the dust had settled, Day began theorising about how she had ended up with – in her words – “a $100 vial of Cuban scorpion venom… and zero felt hats”.
There’s no indication any of this was Amazon’s doing - indeed, based on her own theory, it might not even be an open-and-shut situation with the individual seller.
Theory: somewhere on the dark web are instructions to purchase these oligarchical felt hats from Amazon in order to receive the illegal scorpion drugs. The seller intentionally chose a bizarre niche product that no one would ever organically, mistakenly order. Except me of course— Meagan Day (@meaganmday) January 25, 2018
It’s a curious theory, made all the more concerning by this discovery.
And then this…
Okay a video about the medicine Vidatox titled "Scorpion venom: the most expensive liquid on Earth!" was published on FB at the exact time I received the package and has already gotten 2 million views. Am I a pawn in some alt-pharma promotional strategy? THE PLOT THICKENS pic.twitter.com/kaVKjS243a— Meagan Day (@meaganmday) January 26, 2018
At least her story had a happy ending. Well, as close as you can get to a happy ending after inadvertently receiving a bunch of contraband when all you wanted was six funny hats.
Update: I was refunded for the oligarch hats without comment.— Meagan Day (@meaganmday) January 27, 2018
Also: The scorpion venom is apparently very valuable so if you have any ideas about how to capitalize on that situation in a legal way lmk thanks 🦂
We really hope there isn’t a cancer patient out there who ordered the less-than-legal drugs and wound up with the oligarch hats.
There is another bizarre coda to this whole story, though, because of course there is.
Day is a staff writer for Jacobin, a left-wing magazine. And the title of her most recent article (at the time of writing), uploaded the day after the unexpected marketplace delivery?
(Main Image: iStock)