Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Not All Who Wander Are Lost
June, 2019 - Mount Denali, Alaska

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

We Survived Our First Night!

And, it wasn’t that bad!

We spent the first half of our shift getting trained. There was one other couple getting trained with us. Our trainer, Tammy, took us through a simulator program that showed us how to do the packaging job, and what problems might arise.

We’re in Crisplant where all of the orders get packaged. It’s quite amazing how it all works. I think this is the least favorite area to work because it is quite noisy. There are many different types of conveyors all over the place, creating lots of noise.

After our lunch break (I’ve never had lunch at 10:00 p.m. before), we were assigned to a line and began working for real. There are eight lines that run the length of the warehouse. The lines are split into sections, and you are assigned to a couple of sections. Each section has 24 chutes in it, 12 up and 12 down.

Conveyors are bringing orders to the chutes. You are assigned to a cart for certain sections of the line. The cart is equipped with a computer, boxes, tape, labels and packing materials.

The chutes have lights on them. When two lights are blinking, that’s a priority order and you do those first. When one light is blinking, you fill those orders as you can. So, you’re pushing your cart along your part of the line, stopping at the ones that have the flashing lights, and filling those orders. This allows you to not stand in one spot all of the time.

Each chute has a bar code with it. You scan the code, and the computer tells you what size box to use, and what items are in the order. Most of the time, the correct items are in the chute. If there’s anything missing, it’s usually in a chute nearby, and it’s because the conveyor dropped it down the wrong chute.

The tape machine has buttons coded to match the box codes. You push the button corresponding to the box you’re using, and it spits out the correct size packing tape, already wet. I had the most trouble getting the tape on some of the larger boxes. Kevin and I both wore gloves to keep from getting glue all over our hands.

They provide the gloves, as well as earplugs for the noise. I didn’t find the plant noise that bad. I put in the earphones when they started blasting music. There are a lot of young people working in this area, and they like their music loud :)

I hope this isn’t too confusing. I’m trying to explain it the best I can because many people have expressed an interest in how it works.

My feet and knees were quite tired and sore by the end of the night, but nothing I can’t deal with. I did take some ibuprofen about halfway through the night, and that helped. I went to bed at 4:30 a.m. and slept until 10:30 a.m. I took a Tylenol PM before going to bed because I was very worried I’d be up after only a few hours. Hopefully, after a few nights, my body clock will adjust.

So, while our job and hours are not what we were expecting, it’s not as bad as I thought it would be. We’ll be able to do it, and are making more money by working nights. If they are able to switch us to days, we’ll still take it. 

Our normal shift will be M, T, Th, and F from 5:00 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. This week because we had training on Sunday, we’re working M, T, and W. Then we’ll have a four day weekend before our regular shift starts next week.

We met quite a few members of the Camper Force (that’s what we’re called) last night. Most of them are not doing the job they thought they were getting. So, I think the hiring process was a bit misleading. Everyone seems to have a pretty good attitude about it. After all, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. And, face it, we’re all here for one reason. To make some decent money for a short period of time. Amazon even has a logo for us :)

Camper Force

I think it will be worth it. By working at Amazon, we’ll be able to enjoy the winter without working. We like that trade-off!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!