Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Amazon (Oct. 10 - Dec. 23, 2013)

If my math skills don't fail me I believe it's been about 8 months since we last spoke.  I have a multitude of excuses but quite frankly I was thinking my blogging days were done.  But then there were nice people in our life who kept asking about the blog and were telling us that they enjoyed what we had to say and especially enjoyed Debbie's pictures.  So we're back.   We humbly appreciate the kind encouragement and will try to be a little more motivated.
Given the passage of so much time, I will paraphrase much of the past months and give more details about some of our more recent adventures.

The last you heard of us we were arriving in Coffeyville, KS for the purpose of a seasonal job with Amazon.

We were there from Oct 8, 2013 until Dec 23, 2013. Coffeyville is a quiet town of about 10,000 people.  For most of us the major attraction in Coffeyville was the SuperWalmart.  The closest towns of size are Tulsa, OK at about 75 miles away and Joplin, MO at about 65 miles.  The job was in an Amazon distribution center (i.e. warehouse).  There are 3 such locations in the country where Amazon hires RVers  to fill their need for seasonal employees to meet the demands of holiday shopping. The other two locations are Campbellsville, KY and Fernley, NV.  They gave us a free campsite which in our case was right across the street (there were numerous other campgrounds throughout town serving Amazon RVers), $11 an hour, time and a half over forty hours and a $1 an hour bonus for every hour worked after completing the season.

Our campsite at Big Chief

The huge Amazon warehouse was just across the street
So life at Amazon was "interesting."  We had a few days of  orientation and training beginning on the 10th.  We were then off for the weekend and began half days for the next 4 days.   Amazon calls this  "hardening" which means getting use to the work.  We were off for 3 days and then began our normal work schedule.  Our first surprise was that we were assigned to the night shift.   We worked M-TH, 5:30pm to 4am.  As soon as our half days began we started living the nocturnal life of the night shift.  We surprisingly adjusted quite quickly.  Our only purpose for being in Coffeyville was to make money so we worked all the overtime they would permit.  The max allowed was 56 hours a week.  We consistently worked 50 - 56 hours every week.  The work was not particular hard but it was not great fun either.  During our ten weeks we primarily worked three different areas.  Initially we were in Receiving where we processed in tons of merchandise as it arrived in the warehouse.  Then we worked Receiving as well as Stowing.  In Stowing you stow (clever) merchandise in bins where it will later be picked to fill orders.  Lastly, we worked in Picking.  Keep up!  In Picking you pick merchandise from the bins and forward it via conveyor belts to the shipping people.  I also worked the dock area processing/moving pallets and Debbie often worked Prep where she wrapped stuff in bubble wrap, etc.  So it was 10-11 hour days mostly on a concrete floor with lots of bending, lifting, stretching and miles of walking.  In the end while picking we were covering 10 - 12 miles a night in the 1.2 million square foot warehouse.  Debbie and I had our share of aches and pains but they eventually went away.  My guess is we all speak of how quickly our Amazon orders are filled .  After working there we're surprised this is true because it often seemed like unmanaged chaos but some how it works.  The quality of training for each assigned task left a lot to be desired but everyone seemed to figure things pretty quickly.  I thought the floor managers were great.  They were all upbeat, highly motivated and did a  good job of dishing out positive reinforcement.  We all made mistakes but they never made us feel stupid.

An added bonus of this sort of life experience is that we met so many wonderful people.  There is great camaraderie among the RVers and we all bonded very nicely. 

Looking back there was one GREAT blemish!  The weather was mostly horrible.  Very cold with a fair amount of snow and then the dreaded ICE!  Many of us wrestled with frozen water lines and valves as well as just keeping the camper warm.  The last two days we "enjoyed" what amounted to an ice storm.  So I spent the first few hours on the day of our departure with a rubber mallet beating about 1 inch of ice off the camper so the slides would come in.

Together we netted about $11,000 which we later spent on a great trip (soon to be addressed in the blog) and had another unique life experience.


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