Disclaimer: We are not spokespersons or officially affiliated with Amazon in any way. This account is of our personal experience as seasonal employees in the Cambellsville, KY distribution center in 2017. I in no way speak for the company or my co-workers, and am only recounting my personal experiences. Also, any details I get wrong in this or any other post are due to a misunderstanding on my part and are not intentional.
I was thinking as I walked into work yesterday that my calves were holding up pretty well, so it should come as no surprise that it was all about pain the calves last night. Note to self: don’t borrow trouble. The first half of the shift I actually felt really good, but after lunch the work slowed down, the routes got longer, and my feet started acting up again. I am going to try and take the inserts our tonight, to maybe help with arch support and if that doesn’t work I have a pair of Skechers I can try. Lee was in a ton of pain. The last couple of hours we were bumped between modules (Q to F to E to F to Q) and except for one brief stint where I was picking multiple items per bin it was rough. For me at least when I get in a rhythm it hurts less, but the more time between picks the more I think about how much my feet hurt.
Speaking of that I wanted to share my picking process. I walk at a pretty slow pace to get from bin to bin, but when I get there I try to be as efficient as possible. For me that means grabbing the first item I see with the color on the computer and then scanning it. Most of the time, it’s the right one and this means I avoid digging through the bin. In those cases where it is the wrong one it costs me a little extra time, but that is more than made up by how often it’s right. Lee does something similar but he doesn’t even look at color. Since his numbers are still better than me, his method may work even better than mine although I know he is walking faster than me from place to place.
I’m also going to the bathroom on a semi-regular basis and I do this by stopping when I have a pick near one. They told us to empty our bins before going into a bathroom during shift, but I found this wasted time and cost a ton of extra steps. I just leave my cart near the restroom and pop in and out. In all fairness though I am lucky that there is a small restroom in a corner of the area we are picking in. Once we add stairs this may become much harder. Still, despite the comments I have read/heard from several people, everyone says they go to the bathroom “on their time.” And thus far at least, the short stops haven’t hurt my numbers significantly overall.
Which takes me to the environment. For many, many people working in a place where they have to actually worry about whether or not or when they could go to the bathroom would be a deal breaker. The whole environment is particularly tough for Lee since he is an independent and creative person. Largely I find this atmosphere much easier than many other jobs we have had. There is minimal personality drama for one thing. You see people briefly in the aisles, smile and give them a wave, but there is little time for chit chat. Other jobs, like packing, involve folks having actual conversations, but as Bill says, us pickers tend to have a conversation in 90 second clips over the course of several chance meetings. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure there is drama going on somewhere, but I am largely blissfully ignorant of it and so far it has in no way impacted my ability to do my jobs. This is in direct contradiction to most camp hosting jobs, for example, where managing personalities is a big part of being successful. To me that is a huge advantage of picking and I enjoy my success or failure being about my own personal accomplishment.
It does leave quite a bit of time for personal thoughts though, so if you are a person who doesn’t want to spend a ton of time in their own head this may not be the job for you. If you are more social, you might want to try packing. It’s a shame really that a work kampers we don’t get to try out all the positions before choosing one. It’s seems pretty obvious that the stowers are having a hard time keeping up and I would love to jump over and stow or pack for awhile when things are slow. That’s what I see many of the senior regular staff doing during the shift, but I get why it doesn’t make a ton of sense to have temporaries learn all the jobs. That being said, many people come back year after year and it would be good if they found a way to allow the returning work force “float jobs” in a season. Once you are locked into a position it practically takes an Act of God to be moved to another role, and some jobs just aren’t a good fit. That doesn’t mean the person couldn’t contribute in other ways, but for us first-timers in particular how could we possibly know what worked until we tried it. Personally, I feel very lucky we got assigned to picking. Although the physical toll is rough, I am really enjoying the solitude and still find the whole thing pretty mentally relaxing.
Tracy: 24,269 steps ( 10.10 miles)
Lee: 29,418 (13 miles)
Interesting Item Picked: The absolute winner for tonight is a product called Shoe-Purri. It is made by the company who make Poo-Purri which is a bathroom deodorizer that many RVers swear by. I had no idea they also made a shoe deodorizer, but am very excited to try it. RV’s are small spaces and as such strong smells tend to permeate everywhere and unlike a house there are limited places to stow stinky stuff. So anything that really works in that area is a big hit.
Pain is a relative thing. Once I removed my gel inserts, the searing pain in my arches went away and although my feet hurt in multiple places, it was definitely manageable. That being said it must have hurt somewhat, because when I woke up in the morning I saw I had this.
The jeans I was wearing are a little short and it appears that they rode up and the cuff was rubbing against my lower calf. I honestly had no idea it was happening and trust me I am pretty sensitive normally to this sort of thing. But as I said, pain is relative and in the grand scheme of things this didn’t even register. All that being said I feel pretty good for having completed five 10-hour shifts and walked nearly 50 miles. That’s gotta be a record for me, and I feel pretty good about it. Lee also was much better last night as well. It still hurts, but the pain is manageable.
Oh and I keep forgetting to mention that they have these cool vending machines that have gloves (you can get a pair once a week) and ibuprofen or cold medicine (these you can get based on the recommended dosage/time frame. As much as I appreciate the free medicine though I didn’t find it very helpful and instead am carrying a small baggie of Advil. Gotta have the good stuff. Hopefully next week they will open us up a little bit so we are in different sections. As much as I am not looking forward to adding stairs, I am getting a little tired of being in the same couple of areas every day. I have discovered though that I like hanging clothes. There are a few sections with hanging suits and dresses and I seem to have a knack for finding the items quickly. Plus I enjoy pulling down the beautiful dresses and suits and make sure I pack them lightly in totes so they aren’t smooshed by other clothes. Lee hates this section because it does slow you down but anything that provides a little variety is a good thing.
Tracy: 25,284 steps ( 10.55 miles)
Lee: 22,621 ( 9.99 miles)
Interesting Item Picked: All three of my girls are reading the Amazon posts, and they have lots of interest and questions about what the job is like. They asked me if only Dad was getting the sexy items, because I haven’t mentioned them so I thought I would talk about that here. From day 1, actually hour 1 I have seen lots of adult items. Makes sense really because most people would want to buy that stuff online and as a person who is live and let live (as long as both people are adults and it is consensual) most of it doesn’t really phase me. I should say though that if you are a person who is really bothered by that sort of thing this is probably not the job for you. Lots of the items have half naked women on the outside packaging, but in this environment I usually just think about how their parents feel lol. And as non-judgmental as I try to be, some of it I just don’t get. There are lots of adult sized animal costumes, and of course all kinds of kinky lingerie. Corsets are super popular and since most seem to be made in China I do have the occasional thought on what the women working in the Chinese factories must think about them. They probably think we westerners are nuts. The most unusual (for me), and again trying not to judge here are the adult sized baby costumes. Those just make me shake my head.
So to answer the question, yes I do see this stuff and pretty frequently, but it is unlikely those items will ultimately end up here. I usually have 4-5 items a day I jot down and the best ends up in this section. The sexy stuff usually doesn’t make me smile, wonder, or laugh probably because it’s not a very sexy place to work lol. The item that did make me smile on this particular night was a Man’s grey T-Shirt with Groot printed on the pocket. I loved Guardians of the Galaxy and thought this was a very clever way to allow men to individualize the simple grey T-Shirt. Super cute.
Day 9 and 10
Lee and I both decided to work half days and to give each other a little personal space he worked Friday and I worked Saturday. On of the problems with signing up for these shifts in advance is you are locked in and if you decide to not work at the last minute then you take attendance points. You can wait until the last minute to sign up, but you run the risk the shift will no longer be available. In any event I think we both decided that 50 hours and 5 days was enough. That may change as our bodies toughen up but for right now it seems like too much. While Lee was working Friday Kelly and I went to lunch at the college. It was nice hanging out just the two of us and we went to the pharmacy and shoe store to see what I could do about my feet. Amazon offers a 30% sketcher shoe program, but since I can’t buy shoes online without trying them on I went to a local store. Wow I am glad I did, because nothing on their list was remotely comfortable.
Afterwards I did some research on plantar facciitis, because so many people mentioned it in the comments and despite the scary sounding name it’s not that complicated. Basically there is one ligament between your heel and toes and if this gets strained or inflammed any place on the foot can hurt. I was happy to see Advil can help with this, but it’s also really important that you have the right shoes. Since so many people mentioned nurses, I reached out to my sister (who is a labor and delivery nurse) and asked about her shoes and she raved about her Asics. After talking to here I also Googled best shoes for walking on concrete, and the Asics showed up as number one in multiple locations. The second choice, by the way, were New Balance 608’s which coincidentally Bill wears and absolutely loves. So I did more research and saw they have a sports store here in town and plan on heading there after my five hour shift today. Personally, I think it’s important to try on shoes when your feet hurt. Basically if you feel “ahhhh” when you try them on that’s good, and if you feel “urrrrg”, that’s bad. We will see how it goes.
The five hour shift was pretty good. It was quiet for one thing, and I was kept busy in the section with non-clothing items which is my favorite. I put some heel gel cushions in my Merrill’s which definitely helped, but I was excited about checking out shoes after work. When I got off at five I drove over to the local sporting goods store and they had a small selection. They did have one type of ASIC GTO 2000’s and actually had my size. Plus, they were on sale for $59.99, which was an incredible price since they are usually $120+ dollars. I tried them on and although my feet didn’t go “aaaaaah”, they also didn’t go “urrrrrgh”, and since it was such a good deal I decided to go ahead and buy them. Did you know that shoes only last for 6 months with heavy use? I didn’t know that they needed to be replaced that often, but then again since high school I haven’t been much for heavy physical activity. (We’ve been told shoes should be replaced after 500-600 miles. – Lee) Looking forward to trying these and hope they work. I can feel discomfort in my feet most of the time now, and it’s even woken me up a time or two when I have been sleeping. Hopefully I caught this in time and have avoided serious damage.
Tracy: 11,623 steps ( 4.88 miles)
Items picked 11/8 -11/10: I got these numbers from the weekly report. I picked 1565 items and was 125% of goal and 147% to curve, both of which are pretty great. To be clear I am not busting my butt here, but going at a reasonable pace (for me) and focusing on being as efficient as possible.
Lee: 9,878 steps (4.36 miles)
Items picked 11/8 – 11/10: Lee is totally crushing it with 2199 items picked, 138% to goal and 162% to curve. I think these numbers are getting some attention because he has supervisors and safety people stopping in to check on him all the time and one of the area managers even found him on the floor because he “wanted to meet him.” Not sure what they think is going on here, for all we know they are taking bets on when he flames out, but if that is what they think will happen, they don’t know my husband. (I would like a piece of that action. – Lee)Of course we haven’t added stairs yet so not sure what that will do to either of our numbers.
Interesting Item Picked: I saw this Zonman Water Proof Camera Bag and it immediately got my attention. I like to take pictures around waterfalls and the ocean but spray is definitely an issue. I wasn’t sure if it would actually work though, so checked with my resident camera expert Lee. (First of all, any time you do anything with a camera that’s outside the “norm”, there’s a risk of damagin it. Getting it near water (even a light mist can accumulate dangerous amounts of moisture), snow, sand, smoke, hanging out of an airplane, whatever. So, you know, caveat emptor. On the other hand, it’s only money, and some shots are worth the risk. Having said that, this is a pretty reasonable amount of money to significantly mitigate that risk, especially for anyone who wants to be able to take those once in a lifetime shots no matter what the weather is doing. I’ve had waterproof bags with this kind of seal before, and they’re usually pretty trustworthy, so I would definitely use this. – Lee)
Well the new shoes helped. I still had pain, but it was manageable and when I woke up in the morning my feet were much better. The only problem was the heels were being broke in and started to rub me, but I visited the medical facility onsite and got 2 big band-aids which helped. It’s a nice feature that they have a medical facility and it is staffed by EMT’s and nurses. They have limits on what they are allowed to help with before referring you to a doctor, but are pretty well stocked with first-aid stuff and it appeared they would be able to assist if someone was in cardiac distress. In retrospect I should have bought new shoes prior to coming into the job and spent some time “breaking them in” in advance, but hopefully I have caught it in time. We were both pretty tired though, despite the half days and a full day off so after working we both fell into a really deep sleep. That is one of the great things about working this swing shift is we can both sleep in if we feel we need to. I am routinely sleeping until 8:30 which is very unusual for me, but my body obviously needs it and I am paying attention to that.
And really the job is going OK. The only part I really hate is when the volume of picks is low and our routes take us all over the place. I was talking to one of the regular employees (you can tell because their badges are solid blue versus camperforce has white with a blue trim) and he said that once peak season is over it is always like that…yuck. Plus he said that they get “a lot pickier” during non peak which is hard for me to imagine. They seem pretty picky now. Anyway, late last night I had a run of A’s and B’s (which require kneeling down) and several K’s (which require getting on a step stool) and those are rough when you are already tired. At one point I was shuffling along like a zombie and completely lost track of time until the new chime system let me know it was the end of my shift. They have been talking about installing these chimes since we got here and they are finally live, but instead of bell notes of some sort they are playing short sound clips that are unique to each shift. One of the shifts gets a sound from Super Mario, which is kind of cute, but others sound like some weird yelling thing. Seriously, not sure who picked it, but it’s a jarring noise and definitely would not be my first pick although it definitely gets you attention. I have mixed reactions to the chime since I have never worked a job that has a “whistle”. (I hate the new chimes. I don’t like the “dog whistle concept” to begin with, I find it demeaning. We’re all adults, we all know how to tell time, and everyone has a scanner with a clock on it that’s synced to the master clock. And I can’t imagine there a lot of people in this environment that forget to take a break or lunch. – Lee)
Tracy: 25,470 ( 10.62 miles)
Lee: 26,288 steps (11.61 miles)
Items Picked: 1,033
Interesting Item Picked: Tough to pick my favorite today, but I am settling on Go Pong Lotion Hidden Flasks. They have a line of products that look like sunscreen or lotion that you can sneak alcohol into places with and they looked really realistic. I’m not a huge drinker, but I am also not a big fan of being forced to spend ridiculous amount of money on drinks in public venues, so I liked the idea. Yes, it seems like something you would do in college, but as full timers on a budget I could definitely see the benefit, plus they are pretty cheap at under $10.
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Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full-time RVers such as Instant Pot recipes, Travel Days recipes, and Pot Lucks recipes. You can preview the kindle version on Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes. It is also available in paperback.
So, it sounds like one really needs to scour through the Amazon catalog before considering working there? Or just keep a realy open mind and a sense of humor. Yeah, funny, weird stuff. At least you don’t get names and addresses to know what your friends and relatives are buying.
On a side note, my wife and I have put our house on the market, travel will be in our future and possibly (all fingers crossed) an RV. WOOHOO!
Fantastic Ron!! Really happy for you guys.
Skip the jeans and go with some type of track suit pants. I like the ones with a liner on the inside and a thinner exterior that’s not cloth. Cheap, light weight and don’t rub on my legs as well as easier to bend down. The Starter Brand seem to last a while. They also have an elastic band with a tie cord. Really can move around well in them.
Bought Karen some new socks the other day. I swear by Gold Toe brand. And don’t forget there are several ways to tie shoes that have an effect on how your foot holds in the shoe. Heal problems for example might be your foot sliding forward in your shoe when lacing up can help hold it in place over the back padding of the shoe. Really worth the time to study up on lacing techniques.
You guys rock. I follow all your posts on workcamping. I can’t imagine there is a better blog to learn the details from.
That’s so sweet Mark and I will definitely try Gold Toe. Your right about how I lace the shoes, I actually adjust the throughout the day.
Sorry to have missed you when you came through Kansas City. Debbie and Steve (Down the Road Blog) had just left from a visit we had. Your latest post on the years travels was awesome. The part about what everyone was up to helps, such as knowing how many changes rigs and style of travel.
So sorry we missed you too. I would have loved to have met you in person.
I have Plantar and Tendinitis. One thing I found helpful is an ankle support. Keeps your ankle from rolling in or out. This was okay-ed by my foot doctor. Buy at Walmart, Walgreens. Ice your feet or soak in cool water for an hour. Put Aspricream on them like lotion. My first workamp was front desk. I sat at a desk for 35+ years. Good luck, I feel for you.
Thanks Pam…I bought some other foot cream but yeah I think I need to try aspercreme. Also trying Epsom salts based on recommendation. Will see if that helps.
Really loving this series. We’ve talked about the camper force. It’s nice to get some insights. It’s hard to envision the bin and section set up without a visual (but I guess photos are a no no). Also, what other jobs are there besides picking?
There are other jobs.. Packing and stowing. I’ll try to get into those in a bit and unfortunately we can’t take picture but I’ll try and find some
I love that shoe pourri stuff, and I find it works very well. However, you may want to use it outside of your home, it can smell pretty strong when you first spray it. And it goes on pretty wet so you will need a place for your shoes to dry out a bit too. The smell isn’t horrible, it’s just very herbally/medicinal.
That’s goos to know thanks
Have I told you lately I’m so glad you are here? I very much enjoyed our lunch and running around doing errands! Hope your feet are better!
😄. Sorry we have t seen much of each other but no VTE Sunday so nice long weekend!