Week X Update Oh Wait, Shit I did it again, got too tired and just bailed on the blog HA! Seasons Over Peeps…
Well, guys, we did it!!!!!! We officially had our last day at Amazon. What an incredible journey. And even as I write this, I still can’t quite believe it’s over. It has seriously been quite the rollercoaster of events. Let’s backtrack a bit so I can fill you in on all the details.
For the most part, the days wore on about the same. Just picking items and filling totes. And then it was the big event we were all waiting for, Peak was finally here. It all starts a few days before Thanksgiving and runs through December 23. Amazon’s busiest time of year. So as the week of Thanksgiving arrived schedules were changing, and there was a lot of energy in the air. The word on the street was that Black Friday was big and Cyber Monday was even bigger. So it was all hands on deck. Now here is where I feel this staffing need is extremely site-specific. At CVG1 we primarily do apparel, and generally speaking Black Friday, and Cyber Monday deals are all about the toys and electronics. Sure enough, we come in for Cyber Monday, and we learn that we will be training in ICQA. What does this mean? Well, it means that there wasn’t nearly enough work for all of the employees that they had staffed for, so they needed to push bodies into other departments. Now, you certainly won’t hear me complain. We got paid some serious overtime to train in ICQA, and it’s another department we are now “certified” in. It was just kind of comical. As is the way a lot of the time at Amazon. This is where our personal gripes start to build, with their lack of transparency. Why build this whole thing up, even though all of your long-time employees have seen “true peaks” and know what numbers should be getting called for. It was the same story over and over, every year “peak” at this facility gets a lot less busy, yet they keep staffing for maximum production and then call a shit ton of “VTO” voluntary time off.
I think this is where the full-time employees start to get a little upset. They are being called in for 55 and 60 hour weeks, and then there’s very little work to be done, so you are now offered the VTO. And typically the earliest it gets called is when you are driving into work. Well, I don’t know about you, but at this point, I’m probably going to stick it out. Maybe the upper management really can’t make the call any sooner, but I still don’t understand why they don’t stick to their regular system of overtime, which is called VET, voluntary extra time. This is where they have a signup for all the people who actually want to come in and work, and as far as I understand it, if they get enough volunteers, they don’t have to call mandatory, if they don’t, they do. So to me, it seems like they will pull in the employees who really want to be there, and then maybe on the rare occasion that you do need more bodies you have the ability to call MET, mandatory overtime. But who’s to say what it looks like from the upper management view. Perhaps they can’t make that call that far in advance, maybe they’ve tried this system and it just doesn’t work. Like I’ve said before, you have plenty of time to think as a picker, and I’d rather focus on all of Amazon’s grief than my own, HA! Well, clearly I’ve gotten off on a tangent, as I tend to do, but I think that overall employee morale really affects your time as a Camperforce associate, so I just want to give an accurate portrayal of what it’s like to do this.
So let’s continue…I will say that the number of items needing to be pulled “the bucket” did increase as we got closer to Christmas, not a crazy amount though. And there was still plenty of VTO being offered, almost daily. We even had a couple of mandatory overtime days canceled. Which really sucks as Camperforce, because you’re kind of there just to make money. And again, it would always get called in the afternoon the day before your shift, so you didn’t have time to even think about making a long weekend of it. Anyways, not the end of the world, but from a low-level employees perspective, it seems like they could be more considerate of your time.
So let’s talk about the facility and management a bit. Around that week of Thanksgiving, there was a little miscommunication about holiday pay for Camperforce. The details aren’t necessary but do know that as of 2018 Cmaperforce does not receive holiday pay. So, it was just kind of par for course, yet another Amazon mixup. It baffles me, that a company that is so “customer-centric” so “customer-obsessed” that what seem like simple personnel tasks are greatly screwed up. So when HR approached us about clarifying the holiday pay, I kind of let it all out. I explained that the miscommunications, lack of leadership, and a poorly maintained facility were going to be the demise of the Camperforce program at this particular site. I simply said that we are a small community and I would be shocked if they could get Camperforce to come back to this facility.
And then the craziest thing happened. We were called to an impromptu “roundtable” with the site leader amongst others.
It definitely felt like being called into the principal’s office, and no one gave us any indication of why we were there. In a nutshell, the site leader explained that they like to do these roundtables to get a feel for what the employees have on their minds, what Amazon is doing well and what they can do better. Now here’s where I may be a little narcissistic, but I thought it was quite funny that within 24 hours of me making a comment about Camperforce not returning to this site, here we were sitting with the site leader, again it’s that lack of transparency, but hey we got our sounding board and you know I absolutely got everything out there, of course in a most tactful way. Plus I felt like we had an opportunity to take some of the concerns that we had heard from full-time employees and bring them directly to the rockstar of CVG1, you can’t let an opportunity like that get away. If you can just impart a little change, it’s a step in the right direction.
And then things got even crazier…I feel like they actually listened. At that moment my whole experience with Amazon changed. And honestly, we even saw a real change in the mods as the weeks went on. They said all the right things, did all the right things and followed up. The site leader was seen walking the mods, managers engaged with us on a more frequent, personal basis. We even got the greatest tour of the facility, with one of my favorite managers. I don’t know, I guess I drank the Koolaid, but I sure enjoyed the rest of my time there! HA! Plus, Hubby and I got trained in gift wrap, which is like the coolest thing in the whole entire Amazon world. I can’t thank my manager enough for bringing us into the mix. Being on the floor is such a different experience than being up in the mods. You have such a different outlook on the whole Amazon flow. You feel important. You feel valued. You certainly don’t have all that time to think. It’s pretty awesome.
And here’s where I need to chime in on our personal issues. Imagine having 10 hours a day to just think. Dwell. Contemplate. Evaluate. Ugh! The job is so mundane that you really are just left alone with your thoughts. And for someone like me, that’s a dangerous little game. So I have to be honest and say that we brought a fuck ton of personal baggage to the job on a daily basis…
– Our new trailer was already having problems, granted I knew this would happen but not like a few weeks in. The water heater died, the furnace went out, the fireplace stopped working, one of the interior walls literally popped off… I mean just one thing after another
– Our “new to us truck” was having serious problems on like day 3, we got it fixed, and still the same issues
– My stupid root canal that I had done days before coming down here was giving me serious troubles, I was in so much pain at work that I was miserable, plus every time I thought about it I was infuriated that I spent so much money to be in so much pain
– The house that we waited all summer to rent, losing much needed income, was now being vacated, well not so much vacated immediately, moreover they just stopped paying rent, utilities, and took their time vacating, and now we’re thinking who’s going to rent a house in Alaska in the middle of December? Ugh!
And maybe you’re thinking, yup, that’s life! Well you’re right, but having 10 hours a day with nothing else to occupy your mind was just too overwhelming for me. I should never be left alone with my thoughts on a good day, HA! Let alone when all the things are going wonky. The last couple of months have felt so defeating. Like everything we have been working for is just giving us the biggest fucking middle finger HA! It’s one thing to bust your ass and know that it’s all a means to an end. Like yes, we do this and it’s all going to be great! But make plans, and well… You get it!
So where did it all shake out?
Well, I would absolutely come back to this facility. And you’re thinking, man this lady is crazy she is all over the place. But, on one condition, only if the same leadership is there. I really feel like after that meeting they took the time to get to know us, and I feel like that would carry some weight if we came back. That’s not to say that we wouldn’t be stuck picking for 10 hours a days most days, but I also feel like if we didn’t have so much personal shit going on, that the whole expereience early on would have been a lot better.
There’s also a few other perks to this facility:
– Apparel: They only deal with apparel. It’s easy, doesn’t smell, and it isn’t heavy. Imagine working in a facility that did appliances, perfumes, big screen TV’s etc…
– Campground: We were set to go to Murfreesboro before this facility so I scoped out those campgrounds. In my opinion, this campground is far better. It’s safe, clean, and an easy drive.
Our personal life:
– Truck: Well the truck is what it is. We had the truck serviced again, still the same probs. And for the most part,t it runs great. We have a few ideas if it keeps acting up. But for now, we are going to see how it does on the drive from here to TN. That’s our next stop.
– Trailer: Hubby managed to get the elctric hot water up and running, the furnace fixed, and the wall put back together. The other items are going to wait until FL where we will drop the rig off for warranty work. That was absolutely anticipated. So all is well there.
– House: We have listed the dumb house. I hate that stupid thing with a passion. It all started when we went to build the loft and then got sucked in becuase of the shitty septic system. Ugh! Anyways, the one renter is out, our other renter is more amazing than anyone out there, and I feel so bad for him that we have to sell. But so goes… Hopefully, we will get this thing sold and out of our hair! Our Alaska House!
Other than some specifics that I will address in other areas I have to say that I am so glad we had this experience. On our last day, it felt great to see through our commitment. Hubby and I both ended in gift wrap, and it’s a pretty cool feeling knowing that you’re the last one to prep the gifts before they go under the tree. I sure won’t miss punching a clock every day. And my favorite sayings… “You get paid the same no matter what” and “Anyone can do anything for a couple of months” are truly put to the test as an Amazon associate. Especially when other employees are literally sleeping in the aisles, leadership just walks over trash, and accountability is practically non-existent. But I digress. Maybe Amazon needs to take a more site-specific approach. Maybe not every market is driven by the “team buidling activities”. Maybe in the more metro areas this type of leadership works, but here in the midwest, I’m not so sure. Like at CVG1 I think they should adopt something like Nebraska’s new tourism campaign…
Maybe something like…
I mean you don’ have to make it something that it’s not right?!?! It is just a job, no one is getting up every day and filling up totes out of the kindness of their hearts, it’s all about the paper dollars!