If Amazon were a character from an old sitcom, which would it be?

I know, I know, you were just talking about that the other day. Me, too! I read some news about Amazon that made me think of the two most important lessons about adulthood I learned from watching old sitcoms.

No. 1: The most terrifying event in a married couple's life was having the boss over for dinner. He usually invited himself, and the stammering, noodle-legged husband couldn't possibly say no. He would break the news to his wife, who would promptly put on an apron, even if the event was a week away.

The boss was always large, loud, prickly and had thick black glasses. The husband was nervous because his promotion might depend on this. If the wife burned the pot roast, the boss would be unhappy. This would be worse than losing the Johnson Account.

Something always saved the day, though, and the boss refrained from pitching the family into unemployment and penury because of "the little woman," who made a grand dessert. Thus sated, he tottered away, giving no more thought to the anxiety he had caused.

We never saw the possible fallout. The dessert was a prune meringue, and the boss suffered a horrible accident on the commuter train the next day. The promotion would go to someone whose wife did not burn the pot roast, the man's career would stall, he would blame his wife, and little Richie would hear the fights in the other room and put his pillow over his head.

There didn't seem to be any way to avoid the Dreaded Boss Supper. Nowadays the idea is absurd. Can you imagine your manager asking if they can come over and eat food? Right in front of you? With their mouth? It would be like your supervisor scheduling a Zoom meeting so they can watch you chew.

No. 2: Periodically, the nosy neighbor would come over to "borrow" a cup of sugar or flour. This always was a pretext for surveillance on your home, to see if you were a witch, or confirm some stupid neighborhood gossip that arose from an utterly avoidable misconception.

So, is Amazon the boss, or the neighbor? The latter, and here's why. If you have an Amazon device in your house, such as the Echo, the Echo Spot, the Echo Dot, the Echo Snoop, the Echo Panopticon, the Echo Subdermal Implant or the Echo (Echo), which is used only when you are trying to reorder products from the edge of a canyon ... Where was I?

Right. Amazon products. Like the Echo, et cetera. Like the Ring doorbell, which takes high-def pictures of people stealing things so you can give the photos to the police, after which nothing happens. Or the Amazon Cloud Camera, which you forget to turn off, only to discover that their servers have 2,394 videos of you entering and leaving a room.

Do you have any of these? Here's why you should care. Starting Tuesday, Amazon will roll out something with the innocuous name of Sidewalk, which allows your devices to share bandwidth with your neighbors' devices. Why? To provide access to devices if someone's internet goes down. In other words, they will borrow a cup of megabytes without having to come over and knock.

At the risk of seeming unneighborly, I'm going to pass. It's not that I'm stingy. It's that the sitcom neighbor who came over for flour did not have 600 Bulgarian hackers standing behind her in single file so you wouldn't see them when you looked through the peephole.

There's more: You're enrolled automatically! Want to opt out? Go to your device settings, look for a button that says "Oh, hell no." Surprise, it's not there. Look for something that says "Sidewalk," and check it to "disabled." You might want to use some Superglue on the button to make sure it stays disabled.

I'd probably be more inclined to join this if it weren't automatically enabled. Just seems highhanded, if you ask me. Jeff Bezos is not the boss of me.

Hold on, I have a notification ... huh. Mr. Bezos is coming over for dinner tonight, whether we like it or not.

Time to get started on burning the pot roast.

james.lileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858 • Twitter: @Lileks • facebook.com/james.lileks