Tuesday, November 6, 2012

On a More Serious Note...........

When Joan and I came home Monday night after finishing our second week at Amazon we were both extremely tired and sore. Joan's feet are still giving her a lot of trouble and for some reason my shoulder was bothering me. I didn't mention it in the blog but the last week we were in Mt Hood I took a tumble while getting down off the back of one of our work trucks. I had put my hand down on the bed of the truck for stability. For some reason the material of the glove and the sand on the bed of the truck didn't like each other and my hand slipped just as I put weight on it when I jumped down. This resulted in my left arm being pulled into what felt like an unnatural position and for a few days my shoulder was stiff. I guess all this lifting, moving, stretching, etc has aggravated it and it aches. That being said, please consider I didn't sleep well last night as you read the blog... I may not be my usual sunny self...........

Several things happened at work this week. With the increase in the number of temporary workers, the employees have been split into two groups for breaks and lunches. I don't know why but Joan and the other two members of our carpool are in one group while I'm in the other. And all of us got our information on overtime schedules. If we go to a 50 hour workweek, we'll be asked to work a 5th 10 hour day each week. If we go to a 55+ hour workweek we may be asked to work some 12 hour days. On days when orders are slow Amazon does allow voluntary time off; unfortunately we are unable to take advantage of it as our carpool members work in different shops and we can't be sure all of us could get off. So let me give you an example of one of our typical days.........

5:00 am - First alarm (I have another set for 5:05 just in case)
5-6:00 am - dress; fix, eat and cleanup from breakfast; fix and pack lunch;
6:00 - 6:40 am - carpool to work; arrive at Amazon (it's still dark outside)
6:40 - 7:00 am - place lunch, jackets, keys, phones, etc in locker (none of this is allowed in the warehouse). Walk to work location (keep in mind this is a 1 million sq ft facility with 3 floors; we're on the 3rd floor) clock in before 7:00 am
7-7:10 am - morning announcements and stretching
7:10-9:30 am - work-STANDING
9:30-9:45 am - break (keep in mind a 5 minute walk each way and pass thru security if you go to the break room
9:45-11:30 - work-STANDING
11:30-12:00 pm - clock out for lunch; (same 5 minute walk each way to break room/lockers to pick up lunch)
12:30 pm - return to work location; clock in by 12:30 pm; new work assignments and stretches
12:35-2:45 pm - work-STANDING
2:45-3:00 pm - break (same as morning break)
3-5:30 pm - work-STANDING
5:30-6:30 pm - clock out; pick up stuff from locker; carpool back to RV (it's already dark again when we leave Amazon)
6:30-bedtime - fix and eat supper; do whatever we want if we're able; prepare for tomorrow

That's about it 4 days a week; 5 when we go to Mandatory Overtime

And while we're working it's almost like sensory depredation. At least for me that's what it seems like. The department we work in is extremely noisy. It's mandatory we wear ear plugs. The noise includes:
- multiple older mechanical conveyor lines
- thousands if not millions of little roller wheels in the chutes along the conveyors
- hundreds of forklifts, golf carts, floor dolly/jacks; all of which are constantly moving, blowing their horns at every intersection of walkways, driveways, storage aisles, etc (safety process)
- and all the other thousands of mechanical devices you would expect to find in this type of an environment
- and don't forget the loud speakers. I know Amazon is trying to make the environment as pleasant as possible so they allow music to be played in the various work areas; but to be heard over the noise in our area it must be blared; and blared it is. Don't get me wrong, it's not the type of music they play, it's just the decibel level it's played at.

All this while having little pieces of foam stuffed in your ears. We are given light gloves to wear if needed; and for us they are. So your sense of touch is distorted as well. There are productivity goals; and they are challenging. Amazon gives new employees 4 weeks to meet their goals. And the work environment does not really allow for conversation with the person working next to you (at least not in our department. This may be different in other areas.

So to summarize:

- Long days that start before the sun rises and end after it sets. Sometimes we feel like vampires
- Short breaks and lunches
- Little or no interaction with others; no meeting new friends or developing new relationships; not enough time
- Loud, noisy work environment
- Standing for 10 hours a day
- The work itself is not that hard. It is however repetitive and sometimes boring
- Little or no time (or desire) after work to go out, shop, clean, do laundry or explore
- Lots of house cleaning and normal chores to do on your days off
- The pay is good compared to other workamping positions we've investigated; not so good compared to our previous jobs before we went full time
- Amazon gives employees a discount on anything they order online

Please don't get me wrong. There are lots of folks working for Amazon; both full time and workamping, and it seems to work well for them. Amazon provides a great opportunity for workampers, but it's real work. Our specific work responsibilities may result in Joan and I having a very different perspective from other Amazon workampers. If we can just get past the extreme discomfort from standing all day I think we'll be OK. But for now its really kicking our butts!

Other than that we haven't done much this week to talk about. We went to one of the local casinos; not to gamble but to eat. It was really good, and reasonably priced. We've heard about another casino that has some great restaurants and may try it while we're off this week. We attempted a short drive out into the country on one of the side roads, but we were forced to turn around about 7-8 miles out as the road shown on the GPS entered a private rock quarry. The weather forecast is for temps beginning in the high 30's and approaching the 70's the next few days. Thursday and Friday is forecast for 20's and possible snow.

We're still looking for a Saint for Tired Feet. Let us know if you have any suggestions.

Stay Tuned. More to Come.


  1. Hang in there!! We worked in Crisplant last year and also found it very challenging. Our light at the end of the tunnel is that we were going to earn enough money to take the winter off. We worked nights so had to deal with not being able to sleep late enough. My body just didn't want to adjust. It sounds like the process is very similar to Coffeyville, Kansas. This year we are pickers and are liking it much better!!

  2. Oh dear! You are right, its not "hard" work but it does take a toll on your feet, back, shoulders, knees...did I miss anything? :-). Here in KY they sent out OT notices that they expect the 60 hour week to start 12/9....so its really only 10-14 days depending upon your shift. It wasn't so bad. Change your sneakers out at meal break if you have two pairs, that helps. Make sure you do interim stretching of your neck and shoulders every so often. It does help. We are now in the thick of it as well, but we are true vampires, working at night and sleeping during the day! And no, you don't feel like doing anything fun or interesting, its all I can do to get the laundry done and food ready, but we knew that for the nine weeks we work its all about the work and not much else. At least now its only 9 weeks out of the year instead of 50 :-)! Can't wait to talk about it in person January!

  3. What a grueling situation. I'd rather have serious dental work. Seriously, if this gig helps you to reach your goals, then it will all be worth it. I know you two are made of tough stuff and you're going to come out on top. Love you both! Lil Sis

  4. http://www.amazon.com/Discovery-Channel-Moon-Shoes-Black/dp/B002UM3M9W/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1352595471&sr=8-3&keywords=moon+shoes+for+adults

    Found something that may help....Moon Shoes... Their lighter than gravity so you'll have less weight to hold up all day! Be like walking on the moon!!!

    But the best part is you don't have to wait to order, you can pick them up at your work tomorrow!!!

    Hope you guys start feeling better and the standing, long hours, and tedious work gets easier