Week #3 at Amazon
Disclaimer: We are in no way affiliated with or representing Amazon. We are simply detailing our workamping experiences for those interested during our time as Amazon Camperforce associates.
Another week has passed & the warehouse is really filling up …. I’m going to let you in on a little secret - Christmas is a’coming people! Or more so - Black Friday & Cyber Monday. We started the week with our last 10-hour training shift as stowers. For those of you that haven’t been following along that means we ‘stow’ the items that are received in the fulfillment center. We originally were trained as pickers, which are the people who ‘pick’ the items that have been ordered and send them down the conveyers to the packers. With the holidays approaching, items are being received in larger quantities. Obviously, the items need to be stowed first in order to be picked to fulfill customer orders. The inbound departments - receiving & stowing are currently in the peak to get the warehouse filled with all the items that will need to be in stock for the holiday rush. Thanksgiving week that peak turns to the outbound departments of pick, pack, and ship. So for the time being we are helping out in the inbound department as stowers and will follow the peak to outbound as pickers when those crazy holiday orders start rolling in.
As we mentioned before, we totally prefer to be pickers. It is much more walking, but we like being on the move. As stowers, we don’t do near as much walking, but much more lifting, twisting, and going to battle with cardboard boxes. We were definitely excited when our area manager toward us to go back to picking on Thursday. However, that was short-lived when on Friday after picking for about a half hour, we got a message to report to the Stow Desk. So back to stowing we went and did the same thing on Saturday as well. The inventory has skyrocketed in the last few weeks - bins that were nearly empty when we arrived are now packed to the max. We’ve been told we will be surprised how quickly the bins will look empty again as the holiday orders commence. Soon the pendulum will swing to outbound peak and we will pick and pick and pick and pick.
Another thing we have realized this week, is words & phrases like tomorrow, yesterday, this morning, and last night no longer can be used without a little extra clarification. When we go to work on a Wednesday and come home on a Thursday inevitably days become more confusing. It also seems funny that we refer to the first half of our day at work (5:30 PM - 10:30 PM) as 'the morning’ since the sun has already set for the day. Sometimes it takes a minute or two to figure out what day it really is.
We had a few people that said our Week 2 post made things seem pretty rough around here. We were simply trying to convey the reality — that it is hard work. We are still in the period of trying to get our bodies to adjust to the actuality of it all. Believe me, we are still enjoying our heating pads and foot soaks, but we did feel better this week. Still sore feet, achy backs, and tired eyes - but that’s what makes the days off so much sweeter.
This week, we wanted to focus on the things we really like about our job as Amazon Camperforce associates. Here’s our Top 13 (Purely concidence that it is lucky #13 and also not in an particular order. We don’t have time or energy for that nonsense!):
- PAYDAY: We get paid weekly! It is fun to get a paycheck every week, rather than every two weeks. Adds a bit more motivation to the week, especially since we get paid on Fridays which is in the middle of our work week.
- NO ALARM: Not having to set an alarm is a serious bonus of night shift for us. I have to admit, we were a bit scared when we saw our shift assignment. However, it really hasn’t been a big issue for us. We love never having to hear that dreaded “beep, beep, beep” in the morning.
- UNIQUE ITEMS: Seeing items in the Amazon fulfillment center that remind us of special people in our lives. It is a great pick-me-up during our shift. Seeing that hat that reminds Russ of his dad or that toy that reminds me of our nephew Benjamin are examples of items that bring a smile to our faces. This happens multiple times during a shift bringing great memories of friends and family that are many miles away.
- CLOTHING: We get to wear whatever we want to work. No uniform, no special equipment. We get to wear whatever is most comfortable to us. Easy enough. Plus don’t forget that ever fashionable clear bum baggie Russ’ wears as a necessary accessory (aka - granola bars, cashew & jolly rancher pouch).
- SLEEP: We are kind of enjoying getting to go to sleep when many people are sitting in rush hour traffic. Russ really doesn’t miss that part of his old job. I’m sure some of you can relate since you may be reading this while stopped in rush hour traffic (Hi, Ceil!).
- SHORTER DAYS: In the past, we always regretted the shorter amount of daylight each day as we approached the Winter Solstice. However, this year we appreciate it staying darker a little longer in the morning as we are tucked comfortably into bed for the ‘night’. As for getting dark earlier, we are heading in to work at that time so that doesn’t bother us either. Once inside the warehouse, the bright lights make you forget that it is even dark outside.
- CAMPBELLSVILLE CASH: This is the fulfillment center currency that rewards associates for good ideas and hard work. As your bucks add up you can purchase items in the HR department all of which have the Amazon name on them - t-shirts, sweatshirts, lunch bags, chip clips, blankets, etc. We are thinking of combining ours to buy an Amazon-branded drinking straw. Okay - so we don’t really have much yet, but we have each been rewarded a time or two with some cash. SHOW ME THE MONEY! And no, they don’t really sell Amazon-branded straws. However, we are seriously pooling our cash for a Amazon-branded non-clear bum baggie. Please promise not to tell Russ they don’t actually sell them and he will be stuck with the complimentary clear one for all our future vacations. He is totally fashion forward. We kid, we kid.
- FREE CAMPING: In addition to getting paid to work at Amazon, they also provide a complimentary campsite. While our accommodations are not 5-star, they are FREE! You won’t find us complaining about not paying a dime for water, electric, sewer, cable/wifi (sketchy at best, but remember - free), and a spot to park our house. Considering if we weren’t here, we would be paying to be somewhere else. That allows us to keep ~$750/month in our pocket.
- WORKING TOGETHER: We get to commute together, talk about work together, eat lunch together, and occasionally pass each other in the aisles of the warehouse. One of the main reasons we decided to full-time RV was to be able to spend more time together (a nod to the LOVE portion of See Simple Love), so this part of the job is a perk. While neither of us prefer to work as stowers, we do cross-paths with each other more frequently than we did as pickers. We’ll take it.
- OUR AFTERNOONS: This could technically be renamed ‘our mornings’ because it is typically afternoon when we wake up. We enjoy this time we have before work. It is nice that is already light outside, the sun is shining (most days), and the temperature has warmed up from the morning. We eat meal #1 (dinner, I suppose) & relax in the living room in preparation for heading to work in the evening.
- AMAZON MACHINE: We have enjoyed seeing the inner workings of Amazon, the leading juggernaut of the e-commerce world. There are things about the process that surprise us, amaze us, and confuse us. It truly is amazing how they execute the quick delivery of products to people all across the nation. When I clicked “order now” I never envisioned the journey my item had been on prior to arriving at my doorstep. Now we get it and it still amazes us!
- SPORTS TEAMS: We see them all (including the ugly ducklings: Michigan Wolverines, New York Yankees, Dallas Cowboys - okay, you get it, we all have our rivalries!). However, we never realized that our love of sports would pay off in our working lives. When that scanner tells me to ‘pick’ a Michigan State knit hat, we immediately know we are looking for something green & white. Seattle Seahawks jacket - no problem, we immediately know to look for something navy with a highlight of that token neon green. So now we can count the hours and hours we have spent watching basketball, football, and baseball games as work training. Maybe we should make our case to Amazon to pay us for all those hours. After all it helps increase our pick rates big time!
- HAPPY PEOPLE: The people we have dealt with at Amazon have been very pleasant from HR to the security guards to our area managers. The supervisors seem genuinely glad to have us there and have been willing to help solve any of the problems we create - hopefully few and far between. We have gotten to know several other CamperForce associates that are part of our shift. We have fun checking in with them at breaks and lunch time. While there are about 600 CamperForce members, there is only a limited amount who work the same days and shift as us.
While the work is certainly not a walk in the park, from our list above you can see that we have many reasons that demonstrate we are enjoying our time with Amazon. Currently, we are enjoying our days off and are trying to bask in the glory of the 3-day weekend as we know mandatory extra-time is coming soon. After all there is only 40 more days until Christmas and we’ve heard Mr. Claus is looking for some extra help. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered Santa!
Last but not least, a few silly quotes from the week along with our promised week #3 mileage and favorite “pick/stow” items:
“I’m always amazed how after getting up from break my feet forget how to walk, but I’m proud of them for remembering so quickly.”
“I’m sufficiently fed, now I can go to bed” - said at 4:51 AM
“If I ever forget my lunch, I would just have to quit.”
“People actually order that?”
“Stowing is just like playing Tetris, but that doesn't automatically make it fun!"
Here are links to all of our posts related to our Amazon Camperforce experience:
- Arrival at Amazon in Campbellsville
- Amazon Camperforce Week #1
- Amazon Camperforce Week #2
- Amazon Camperforce Week #3
- Amazon Camperforce Week #4
- Amazon Camperforce Week #5
- Amazon Camperforce Week #6
- Amazon Camperforce Week #7
- Amazon Camperforce Week #8
- Amazon Camperforce Week #9
- Amazon Camperforce Final Recap