Our time at Amazon is so intense that I like to break it up into weeks, tick off the time we’ve put in, and revel in how little we have to go. We have 7 weeks to go (or maybe 11, but more on that in a minute) and we successfully made it through Week #1. Because we are hired through the Camperforce program, rather than directly through Amazon, we have some different conditions around our employment. For example, our first week consists of 5 hour days, rather than the usual 10 hour days. So, Friday through Monday, we reported to work from 11:30-4:30 each day.
We are working in the ICQA department (but soon to be another, and more on that as well in a minute) which stands for Inventory Control Quality Assurance. In a nutshell, we confirm that the product that is supposed to be in a certain area really is there. It’s a major problem for the customer if they order a product, but it’s missing and therefore not available to send to them. Our facility is a fairly new one, and uses robots to bring the product to you, rather than have the employees walk around the building to the product. We are assigned to a station each day, and once we log into the computer with our badge and assignment, the robots start scurrying around, picking up shelving units for us to work out of, and lining them up for us. As soon as we’re done with one and “release the pod” (always makes me think of “Release the Kraken!) the robot whisks the shelving off to store it away.
Can’t picture how this works? Check out this video.
However, we expect that everything will be changing for us soon, because most of the ICQA department is going to be switched to Outbound in the very near future. Outbound can be anything from Picking (getting the product out of the shelving to fill orders) to Shipping, to Gift Wrap. As the holiday rush starts up, it will be all hands on deck to get product out the door. And good lord, a whole lot goes out. Apparently, we are in the largest fulfillment center in the world, capable of sending out more than 6 million items in a day.
This center is also offering conversions and extensions, but not in the religious or hair sense! 🙂 There is so much workload even into the new year that they are looking for folks to work a month or two longer, or even to become full-time, regular Amazonians. While we’re not ready to settle permanently, we are interested in the option of working another month beyond Christmas. Provided the weather seems OK, we will probably stay on into January, to earn a bit more traveling money.
We decided to change RV parks this week. The one we were in was seemed just fine at first, until we tried our commute. We were way out in the country, and had to use tiny roads that crossed lots of railroad tracks. Between the choke point traffic lights and slow moving locomotives, our trip took more than an hour. We stopped by another Amazon-approved campground, a KOA that is double the distance from the facility, but on wide-open interstate all the way to work. Our friends there assured us that the drive is quick and easy, and with gas at less than $2, why not!? We moved in yesterday, and love the laundry facilities, large showers, and horse field right behind us.
We also had a fun outing this weekend (our last 3 day one for a while, alas) to the Fort Worth Stockyards. This historic district is the site of a former livestock market for the sale of cattle, sheep and hogs, and the last standing stockyards in the US. There’s all kinds of museums, shops and restaurants, with very heavy emphasis on Cowboys and The West. It was kind of funny to see folks all geared up in Western wear, and with super heavy southern drawls, but in a dead-serious way. It might be just south of Oklahoma, and pretty much in the mid-West, but this area considers itself “where the West begins.”
We also checked out one of the best rated restaurants in Fort Worth, a Korean-fusion place that does burgers and fries with a twist. I had never had kimchi fries before, but now I know I want them again!
Finally, I need to talk about the thing that’s making me crazy: the damn humidity! I admit that I’m a bit spoiled on the super low humidity of the West, but this part of Texas would vex me ever if I were coming from Ohio. We are in the “Piney Woods” region of the state, a humid subtropical zone. In the week and a half that we’ve been here, the humidity has been about 90% every day. Thankfully, the temperatures have only been in the 60s, but the downside to that is our A/C is not a viable way to dry out the RV. We are having trouble with excessive moisture, towels molding, and general clamminess. We’ve been running fans all the time, and we open up the windows when it’s not raining, but we needed bigger guns. I ordered an RV dehumidifier, and hopefully, that will help. Living at 10,000 feet with 5% humidity was no problem for me, but I can’t deal with hair that is still wet 2 days after I wash it!
Tomorrow starts our first full week at Amazon. We will be working 6am-5:30pm from Friday through Tuesday, for 55 hour weeks. I have a big day ahead of me, doing all the cooking for the week so that we don’t have to do any while we’re working. Even though we’ve done it before, I feel a bit like I used to before the first day of school. Wish us luck!