Week #1 of Work Hardening became Week #2 of Hard Workening
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.
Well that fact that we are writing this post is good news. We made it through our first full-week as Amazon CamperForce associates. WooHoo! It’s an added bonus that we are feeling pretty good, but that might be in part to the fact that we had the last two days off.
We started our first full 10-hour shift at 5:30 PM on Wednesday. We continued with our jobs as pickers meaning that we pick the items that customers are ordering from the bins upon bins upon bins of items that line the aisles of the Amazon warehouse. We collect the items we “pick” into totes which then get placed on a conveyer to head to the packing department. This job is considered to be part of the “outbound” process as the items we are “picking” are on their way out of the building to bring smiles to customers’ faces. By the time our shift ended at 4:00 AM our feet were throbbing and our backs were aching, but we had survived which we considered a success!
Upon arriving home around 4:15 AM, we hobbled back to the camper and we were most definitely happy to be home. We located just about every ice pack we could find and iced our backs & feet to prepare for the rest of our work week. As we laid in bed, we found it strange that we were watching the early morning news getting weather and traffic updates for those people that were preparing to go to work. TV is a little rough that time of night or I guess I mean that time of morning? We were a little bit scared about how we would feel when we woke up and tried to get out of bed. Luckily, it worked out fine for both of us!
When we reported to our second day of full-shifts we were asked if we would be willing to volunteer to be trained as “stowers”. Always interested to see how another segment of the big picture works, we agreed. We spent the rest of this past week as stowers, that meant we took the items (apparel, pet products, books, automative parts, games, and just about anything else - remember, you can buy anything on Amazon) and put them in the bins were they would be picked from. We had a few short segments of training and were put right into hands-on training of actually stowing items. I made a few mistakes the first night, but the problem solvers had no trouble fixing them. Don’t worry it was nothing that will ruin you from getting your package on time! But, I was so annoyed at myself. Days 2 and 3 went much smoother without any miscues. Nothing helps you learn more than a mess-up! We don’t walk nearly as much as stowers as we did as pickers, but have been doing more lifting of boxes and moving of product (not as friendly on our backs and wrists, but we are managing that fairly well). We also have cardboard burn (Is that a thing?) on our forearms from digging in boxes over and over again. While I thought we broke down a lot of boxes at the bakery, we may have surpassed that amount in a single week. Boxes and boxes and boxes of stuff. More than once, we have muttered, “Who could possibly be ordering all of the stuff”! It truly is amazing and to think there are bunches of these fulfillment centers across the country as it seems there is enough stuff in this warehouse alone for everyone! Russ & I stowed at least 200 boxes of FerretVite - ferret vitamins. We had no idea that many people owned ferrets, let alone give them vitamins? Mind blown. Never knew doggy diapers were a thing either, but apparently they are in high demand as we stowed a bunch. Order up - they are currently in stock! We both have decided that we enjoy the picking process much better, but we will be back at that before you know it. The stow area is in the peak as the facility is receiving tons of stuff to prepare for the holiday rush. As Black Friday/Cyber Monday/Christmas approach, the peak will transition to the pick & pack areas and we will become pickers again! While it isn’t our favorite position, we are enjoying learning a new cog in the Amazon wheel.
While our body clocks or circadian rhythm has adjusted well, it is still weird to go to bed shortly before the sunrise and heading to work when Prime Time TV is just gearing up for the evening. And don’t get me started about missing Game 7 of the World Series when the Cleveland Indians are playing. Yes, I missed that historic and epic game. We did watch it the next day and I am still proud to be Tribe Fan. Only about 100 more days until Pitchers & Catchers report and all will be right in the world again. See I told you not to get me started….
We typically go to sleep around 5 AM and sleep a wonderful 7-8 hours, waking up around 12 - 1 PM. The transition to night shift hasn’t been as hard as we thought. it might be. We love that we don’t have to set an alarm in the morning and can wake up when we feel ready to do so (Russ gets to that point about an hour before I do - life is good!). Meals have been odd as we typically eat dinner food when we wake up. We do dinner, then breakfast, then lunch (at work at 10:30 PM). In an attempt to avoid additional confusion, we now just call our meals 1, 2, and 3 as the normal breakfast, lunch, and dinner weren’t working.
Dinner between 12 - 1 PM
Breakfast about 4 PM
Lunch during our 10:30 PM break
Sleep, Eat, Work, Repeat.
Things we were extra thankful for this week:
GOOD SHOES: We were really happy to have a couple good pairs of shoes to wear and couldn’t imagine how our feet would feel if we weren’t wearing good shoes. This week we started rotating between our sneakers and hiking shoes which seems to be helping. The sneakers are more comfy while the hiking shoes offer a more sturdy sole. Good combination of footwear for our job.
SHORT COMMUTE: While we are packed in like sardines at this campground, we are super thankful that the campground is so close to the Amazon facility. We are 4.5 miles / 7 minutes away, making for for a super easy commute. It wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable to get in the car after a long shift and have 30 minutes between you and home.
BLACKOUT SHADES: Luckily it is still dark when we first go to bed so that makes falling asleep pretty easy. However, shortly after the suns up and it is light outside. Our MCD Blackout Shades work great at keeping the light out of our bedroom. We tried a night keeping the door into our bedroom open (we usually do), but too much light snuck in from the entry door window and we didn’t sleep too well that first night. We have adjusted well and are able to get a nice 7-8 hours of sleep. Whoop Whoop!
EPSOM SALT: Neither of us have been epsom salt people in the past, but WOW, just WOW! We knew in order to be able to spend long nights walking on a concrete floor day after day, we needed to pamper our sore feet. We started doing it in the afternoons before heading back into work. Both of us were shocked how much better our feet felt immediately after the foot soak.
ESSENTIAL OILS: We have used essential oils for about a year and a half. I used to think they were a joke and we still do sometimes call them witch oils in jest. But we have watched cysts disappear, ear pain slip away, and bad burns not hurt. So this is some serious stuff. I used to think “yeah, right” that won’t work, but we usually are willing to give it a try now. We try to be doubters, but most often it works and surprises us. I always wonder if it is just the placebo effect, but I’ll take it either way. They still seem like magic potions - but that makes it more fun! Woo woo, foo foo or not - they are helping our aches and pains. Let me know if you would like to try some essential oils and I can hook you up with the good stuff. We also have a great recipe for our Ouchie Cream that has helped both my heel pain and Russ’ achy wrists MUCHO this past week.
ICE PACKS & HEATING PADS: Keeps us up and running (or at least picking & stowing, probably no running)! Ice at night & heat before our shift. If we never use them again, we have put both our ice packs and heating pads to super good use.
CROCKPOT: I love to cook, but even so I don’t say no to easy & quick recipes. When we decided to eat our dinner (Meal #1 as we call it) in the mornings, I knew it had to be relatively painless. Love to cook or not, who wants to get up and immediately start chopping, dicing, sautéing, grilling, etc. right when they wake up. We load up the crockpot before going to bed and wake up with dinner ready! It truly is a great thing. We would love for you to share your favorite crockpot recipe with us - please and thank you!
JOLLY RANCHERS: They limit what can be brought into the fulfillment center, but hard candy is a go. Never thought a jolly rancher could bring so much joy, but we have found that the lil’ sugar buzz keepa our feet moving and grooving. It’s an added bonus, that they add a pop of color to Russ’ fashion-forward clear bum-baggie. What’s a bum baggie? It is our new favorite term from our British co-worker Kirsty to describe a fanny pack. Thanks Kirsty - it makes us laugh daily. And please don’t take Russ’ man card away for wearing a bum baggie, after all he carries my snacks & Jolly Ranchers. So as far as I am concerned, its a valuable tool, not necessary a fashion statement.
Some of our favorite quotes from the week - probably won’t be as funny to you guys as they are to us, but still thought we should share. Most are related to tired, sore, and achy body parts. Here goes it….
“I’m afraid to take off my socks, my feet might explode.
“Let me check how cold it is supposed to get tonight to see if I need to turn the heat on while we sleep” (Remember we work nights, so it was 4 AM and only getting warmer while we sleep. We are finally remembering that at night.)
Please call them 1, 2, and 3 not breakfast, lunch, and dinner”
“Who would have thought a plastic cafeteria chair could feel so comfortable”
“I wasn’t scared to take off my shoes today.”
“It’s Jolly Rancher Time!”
“I thought if I created pain somewhere else that it might help me forget about my feet, back, and wrists hurting - I was literally pinching my arm.”
“It’s not right that the clock keeps moving during break.”
As promised, here is our week #2 mileage and favorite “pick/stow” items:
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RUSS & BETSY'S WORKAMPING REVIEWS / UPDATES:
- - - Texas Lakeside RV Resort in Port Lavaca, Texas (November 2017 - November 2018):
- - - Acadia Bike & Coastal Kayaking in Bar Harbor, Maine (June - October 2017):
- - - Amazon Camperforce in Campbellsville, Kentucky (October - December 2016):