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Amazon Confidential: Week 3, The Amazon Weight Loss Program

The continuing saga of a temporary stower working at an Amazon fulfillment center during the holiday shopping season. See Amazon Confidential: Confessions of a Warehouse Worker, Part One and Part Two.

When I first arrived at our RV park in late fall to work as a member of this year’s Amazon holiday Camperforce, I heard one of my neighbors mention how she comes back each fall to lose at least 20 lbs. A rail of a woman, she’s been coming back here as a workamper for five years. She must have been 200 lbs when she started, because I estimate she can’t be more than 100 lbs now. A good breeze and she’d fall over.

She called it the “Amazon weight loss program” and laughed. Now I know why. You’re so tired when you get home at 3:30 am, the last thing you’re thinking about is eating. A quick beer and I collapse into bed, feet and legs aching. Food? What’s food?

A step on the scales this afternoon, however, revealed I’ve lost 5 lbs already. Way to go! Amazon may be missing something here. With obesity on the rise in America, people need to stop sitting in front of their computers buying stuff on Amazon. Put them to work there instead!

Mon. night: I think I have just become one of Amazon’s Most Wanted. This dude came up to me tonight at like 1 am with a piece of paper in his hand. I should explain that no one looks official here, so I had no idea who this guy was. If it’s hot, like it is tonight, people are in shorts. Everyone has an identifying tag hanging from their neck which we use to punch in and out on the time clock, but you can’t really read it.

“Is this you?” he asked, pointing to a picture on the paper. It looked like a Wanted Poster to me.

“Nah, that’s not me,” I responded, though clearly it was my picture. Maybe it was the time of night, for I added: “I think I passed him a while ago on the second floor though.”

Apparently he didn’t think that was very funny from the disgusted look he threw me as he stared me down over a pair of wire rimmed glasses. “You’re putting the count down wrong,” he said. “It’s happened several times tonight, and it’s big items too, not little ones.”

“I think someone’s messing around with me,” I started to say, “maybe pulling stuff out of the bins,” but the expression on this guy’s face told me that excuse might not go over too well.

“Sorry, I’ll try harder,” I mumbled instead as he checked off a box on the paper and walked away. I can’t wait until 3 am to go home.

Fri. night: When I came on duty at 5 pm tonight, I learned my numbers aren’t that good this week. Only 78% and they want at least 85. Maybe if my floor manager would FIX my scanner so I could enter multiple items not only would my accuracy increase but my numbers would improve considerably.

I’ve been asking for this adjustment for over a week and almost every day I am told “Oh, yeah. I’ll get to it after break” … or dinner, or whatever, but it doesn’t happen. My neighbor in stowing has over 200% !!! but his scanner works properly.

There’s been more accidents among the workampers. Someone cut their hand pretty badly reaching into a bin to stow something away. Didn’t look first and I guess there must have been a sharp item inside. I’ve found knives stowed away with the pointy blade ends up; when people are rushing to meet quotas, accidents are going to happen. And some people just don’t care.

I had a scare myself this week when I happened to look down as I bent over one of the conveyor lines and realized the name tag dangling from my neck was only inches from a moving roller. I don’t even want to consider what might have happened if it had been sucked into the machine. I try to wear it inside my shirt now, though it’s supposed to be visible at all times. I’ve decided my neck is more important than my identity showing 24/7.

Coming up in our next installment: The Investment Strategy.