Week #5 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.
Well, the time has come. What we have been training for is here. Game Day. The reason for us being in Campbellsville during the Holiday Peak season has arrived. Yes, all roads have led to the “Official” start of the Holiday shopping season.
It will be a little strange working through the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend, but we knew what we had signed up for when we came here. This week is just the start of mandatory extra work days, optional overtime and changing the days of the week we must work.
Wednesday was a typical work day for us. The positive is that we did not have to worry about rushing somewhere after work or after the bakery closed for the holiday. We did not have to worry about how many people were going to be on the highway as we drove somewhere for the Thanksgiving weekend. Don’t get us wrong, we love visiting family and friends during Holidays. Betsy has always made it clear that Thanksgiving could possibly be her favorite Holiday, though I think that may have more to do with the mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy! Have no fear though, we celebrated our first Thanksgiving on the road in proper fashion. Betsy stepped up and worked her kitchen magic utilizing the tools available in our new home. We indulged in everything typically included in a Thanksgiving meal, including Turkey (in the crockpot), stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and gravy. The only thing we didn’t include was the variety of desserts we are accustomed to seeing. And let’s be honest, we both could do without the calories!
After indulging in such a substantial meal, the thought of going to work was the last thing on our minds. Luckily, we got the call on Wednesday that we would get a bonus 3 hours on Thanksgiving and didn’t have to report to work until 8:30 PM rather than the usual 5:30 PM. Thank you for the great gift of time Amazon - we appreciated it! Regardless, it wasn’t easy to leave for our shift, but somehow we mustered the strength to fight through the tryptophan and resisted the call of our recliners and football on TV to head to the Amazon Fulfillment Center. Once our work day began and we got into the world of picking and stowing, all Holiday thoughts disappeared, although thoughts of family and friends stayed with us all shift.
Black Friday! Yep, the Super Bowl for shoppers! With Amazon becoming the modern day shopping mall, we were pretty close to ground zero on such an important shopping day. Leading up to this day, we had been told our hours would change a little to accommodate the anticipated volume. We were told our shift would start 30 minutes later than normal, all of our break and lunch times would be shifted accordingly and CamperForce Associates would be able to work the same extra hour as the full time associates on that day. But, as happens at a flexible company like Amazon, there was a last minute change. A phone call on Thursday advised us we would be working our normal hours on Friday. No biggie, we would go to work at our normal time and work a normal night. When we arrived at work it was fairly clear things were not “normal” tonight, there was an obvious excitement and buzz in the air. The most noticeable difference was the presence of a lot more pickers during our startup meeting at the start of the shift. Every picker who worked at night, regardless of their shift, was here tonight. The group numbered is excess of 300. The most exciting thing for Betsy and I was we were fairly certain we would be picking tonight, and our stowing days were a thing of the past. During startup there was a lot of talk of things to keep the night lively. Things like raffle tickets for gift cards, giveaways during the night and prize drawings for everyone who stayed for their entire shift. Besides these special things, the work was fairly typical. (Our typical day at work is detailed below as promised last week.) As we had hoped, our night was picking only and the aisles were a little more crowded with the buzz of pick carts flying around bringing smiles to Amazon customers. You should have seen the conveyer as it was a solid line of totes full of items that had been ordered. We even overwhelmed the pack department at one point and had to stop picking for about 10 minutes. After they got the right balance of pickers to packers, the rest of the evening went about without issue.
Saturday (our Friday) arrived without much fanfare. However, we did spend the afternoon cheering on our Buckeyes and staying dark as we might have started watching the game about 90 minutes after it started. We caught up to live just a few minutes before the ending. Such a crazy game to watch and a great reason to eat some candy Buckeyes! We reported to work and the frenzy from Friday was gone, but there was still an extra buzz that signaled the Holiday peak shopping season was here for the next month.
We left you hanging last week with only the first half of our “Day in the Life”. As promised (I'm sure you were hoping we would forget), here goes our typical workday timeline.....
5:07 PM: Arrive at Amazon facility and park.
5:10 PM: Successfully enter the building through the turn-styles.
5:11 PM: Try to open our locker and miss the combination by one number - remember the old school locks from high school. Repeat the combination again.
5:12 PM: Successfully and safely tuck our things in our locker. Make sure the bum baggie is stocked with our break-time snacks and of course Jolly Ranchers!
5:14 PM: Drop off lunch boxes in the break room coolers in a spot that will be easy to grab and go at lunch time.
5:16 PM: Sit down in the break room with fellow Camper Force associates and watch the minutes tick away until it is time to clock in.
5:25 PM: Clock in at 5 - 2 - 5 on the dot.
5:26 PM: Glove up, grab a scanner, and head to outbound pick start-up.
5:30 PM: Stretch-TV comes on and we begin a series of stretches. Our AM & PA’s (our bosses) greet us and provide us with pertinent info for the day.
5:35 PM: Leave the start-up meeting partially motivated.
5:36 PM: Log-in to scanner and receive the location for first pick.
5:37 PM: Arrive in area, locate a cart, load up the cart with 3 or so totes and move to the bin-location.
5:38 PM: Arrive at bin location, scan bin, locate item in the bin (overstuffed with ugly Christmas sweaters and Carhartts while looking for a single pair of stocks) of that needs to be picked and place said item in tote.
5:39 PM: Repeat the process: Walk to next bin location, scan bin, locate item. Pick. Walk to next bin location, scan bin, locate item. Pick. Walk to next bin location, scan bin, locate item. Pick. Hope not to receive the message to report to the stow desk. You get the picture…..
6:12 PM: Pop a Jolly Rancher in the mouth. Life is good.
8:00 PM: Gladly take a seat in the break area. Ahhhh - that feels so good. Okay, just a couple tables in the middle of the warehouse with napkins and a vending machine. But, the water in the ice cold bottles is just what the doctor ordered. Eat some cashew clusters and chat with other associates.
8:15 PM: Repeat the process: Walk to next bin location, scan bin, locate item. Pick. Walk to next bin location, scan bin, locate item. Pick. Walk to next bin location, scan bin, locate item. Pick. You get the picture…..
9:22 PM: Pass Russ in the aisle. Smile, high-five, or complain about the crazy pick-path you are on this morning. Fancy meeting you here!
9:23 PM: Back at it. Pick. Pick. Pick.
9:57 PM: Pop a Jolly Rancher in the mouth. Life is good.
10:25: Clock-out for lunch at 10:25 on the dot. Grab the lunch boxes, plant ourselves in front of the “Sports” TV and nosh on our lunches.
10:52 PM: Look up at the clock and can’t believe there is only 3 minutes left until lunch break is over. Ugh.
10:55 PM: Clock back in at 10:55 on the dot. Glove up, grab a scanner, and head to outbound picker start-up #2.
11:00 PM: Stretch-TV comes on and we begin a series of stretches - confirming that we are indded already a bit sore. Our AM & PA’s (our bosses) let us know how we are progressing for the evening.
11:01 PM: Check scanner for location of first pick.
11:03 PM: Arrive in area, locate a cart, load up the cart with 3 or so totes and move to the bin-location.
11:04 PM: Arrive at bin location, scan bin, locate item that needs to be picked and place said item in tote.
11:05 PM: Pick.
11:06 PM: Pick.
11:08 PM: Pop a Jolly Rancher in the mouth. Life is good.
11:10 PM: Pick. Continue the madness….
1:02 AM: Pick. Glance up at the clock and realize it says 0:02 - makes me chuckle everytime!
1:30 AM: Gladly take a seat in the break area. Ahhhh - that feels so good. Eat a KIND breakfast bar and chat with other associates.
1:45 AM: Break’s over.
1:46 AM: Back at it. I think you know the deal by now. Pick, pick, pick.
2:49 AM: Check time on scanner and calculate that you only have 71 more minutes.
2:52 AM: Realize that next week you will still have 176 minutes left. Panic a bit.
2:53 AM: Gather yourself and pop a Jolly Rancher in the mouth. Life is good.
3:52 AM: Check time on scanner. Keep thinking you can pick one more item and still make it to the time clock by 4:00 AM.
3:56 AM: Place the last filled tote on the conveyer and wave good-bye as it heads to the pack department.
3:59 AM: Scan the scanner (haha) back into the rack.
4:00 AM: Clock out 4:00 on the dot.
4:01 AM: Pass through the metal detectors and head to the locker in hopes that we won’t miss the combo the first time. Success.
4:02 AM: Walk out the doors. Get shocked by the cold weather. Try t figure out why we are not further South? Our house is on wheels - why are we somewhere that there is frost?
4:05 AM: Drive home following the same pick-up truck we followed the last three days.
4:12 AM: Pull up to our home and hope we don’t look to silly hobbling to the front door. It’s amazing how much you can stiffen up in 7 minutes.
4:14 AM: Decide whether it is a good idea to take off shoes. Do it anyway. Not sure whether to regret the decision or not - feels so good, feels so bad.
4:16 AM: Write down our favorite pick/stow items and FitBit data for the day. Realize it makes sense that our feet hurt so bad.
4:17 AM: Debate what to eat for meal #3.
4:19 AM: Eat Meal #3. Pancakes and sausage, egg & cheese sandwich, cereal - something a bit breakfasty. Russ never turns down a chance at his favorite - Panda Puffs.
4:26 AM: Lay on ice while watching the morning news.
5:32 AM: Call it a night (or morning) and go to sleep.
Unknown time: Wake up and repeat the process.
And our weekly Amazon update wouldn’t be complete without the quotes, mileage, and favorite “pick/stow” items from Week #5….
“Surprisingly I didn’t pick any turkeys today!”
“This is the first time I have ever eaten Thanksgiving dinner for breakfast (Meal #1 for our regular readers)!”
“It’s definitely safer here than Walmart or Best Buy on Black Friday”
“We never went Black Friday shopping and here we are doing it for others!”
“Why is there not a channel called Stretch-TV where you can participate in stretching 24-hours a day?”
“Sure seems like the economy is pretty darn good right now!”
“Next week scares me a little.”
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