I know I've got a couple of blogs to go to get caught up with our travels - we're working on them - but I'm going to jump ahead here and get right into the whole Amazon thing. I think it's important to document our experience in a timely manner so I can reread this next year in case we're tempted to return. :) Jk.
There are a number of Amazon fulfillment centers around the country, three of which hire RVers for seasonal work in the 3-4 months leading up to Christmas. The program is called CamperForce. Each of these centers are really gigantic warehouses and the kinds of jobs hired for include picking, stowing, receiving and packing. We have lots of RV friends who have done it so we decided to give it a try ourselves. We originally applied to work in Haslet, Texas, but they had already hired to capacity, so we decided on the fulfillment center in Campbellsville, Kentucky.
We arrived in Campbellsville two weeks ago, giving ourselves a few days to get settled in and learn our way around before starting work. Our first week at Amazon consisted of a day-long orientation and safety school, then four half-days of learning the ropes and "hardening" our bodies for the ten-hour days ahead.
Both Steven and I are pickers and that means just what it sounds like. We literally pick items off a shelf, or from a drawer, so that an order can be fulfilled and shipped. We carry a hand-held scanner which tells us what items to pick, and we basically do that for hours on end.
In the first week we learned how to navigate the huge warehouse, or part of it, as we're still being held to buildings A, B & C. There are apparently many more, but we won't see them for about another week or so. That's probably a good thing, because us newbies can really wreak havoc with our scanners. Before we learned how to properly search for or "reject" an item, we learned how to send an ANDON. That's basically sending out a message to management that there's a problem much more serious than "I can't find that red bowtie." In our first days, Steven and I sent about six ANDON messages. LOL. They should probably not teach us ANDONs on the first day.
As each half-day passed we started feeling a bit more confident, both in our navigation of the building and picking. We had only one day off before jumping right in to ten-hour days. The first day I walked over 24,000 steps while Steven did over 26,000. That's a lot of walking! Of course, we knew pickers really racked up the miles, and that's why we requested the position. I would much rather walk all day than stand in one spot.
The Campbellsville FC (fulfillment center) is about 75% clothes and 25% other stuff. My least favorite thing to pick is clothes, naturally. At the start of each shift and following our lunch break we have a stand-up meeting with other pickers and our area manager. He barks out announcements while we all do stretching exercises. Then we fire up our scanners to see where the computer is sending us to begin our picking. At first, both Steven and I would find a trolley and get ourselves set up with everything we carry around with us - water, box cutter, gloves, etc. But sure as we had our trolleys completely kitted out, the computer would send us to another floor. We are not allowed to take our carts from floor to floor, so we have to abandon it and go find another one on the floor to which we’ve been assigned. We tend to get attached to our scanners and trolleys, and it took us a while to realize that we had to use several different ones throughout the day. That's hard for us OCDers. :) Thank goodness there are a zillion containers of handi-wipes laying around.
In the weeks to come I'll write more about the kinds of stuff we pick, but suffice it to say there are a lot of crotchless, backless, rubbery, thong-y kinds of things. Hey, I don't judge, but I am learning. I did not know there was such a thing as a Man's Padded Dance Thong (Prime eligible!). I guess I just never thought about it before. It will be interesting to see if we're still picking Adult Onsies after Halloween. And speaking of Halloween, now we know where those scary clowns are getting their stuff!
As for our accommodations, there are several campgrounds in the area, with Heartland being the closest. In fact, it's right across the street, which means we walk to and from work most days. As of now we are enjoying the last of our three days off. Tomorrow is the first of four ten-hour days. They say we'll get used to it. I think "they" are lying.
UP NEXT: I don't even know!