I remember the day, July 23, 2013, where I got a reply from Amazon who offered me a job interview as a fulfilment associate after I sent them and other companies resumes. It was interesting times, back at 2013, where my great-uncle Dan was living with us . . . again. I was an active member of Crimson Flag also. Not to mention, dealing with college (still do). After the phone interview a few days later, I was offered to go to a direct hire on August 16, 2013.
Of course, the direct hire was in neighboring city, Phoenix, and I still haven’t got my driver license yet, and because it takes place on a weekday, my dad can’t drive me there. So, it was a heck of a trouble to get it in time, which I succeed on the day of the interview (thanks, grandma, rest in peace). The written exam I took twice (because the permit has expired, oops), and the driving and parking test was alright, though I was disappointed that the field test was literally a drive around the block.
So, I got home with my license in hand, got myself clean up in a good suit, and drove all the way to the interview, with the high school diploma, which was required. Boy, was the interview wasn’t what I expected. It was fairly informal, with all the people there getting a job (except me) were wearing casually, the diploma was taken a picture of (and months later since they somehow lost it), and it just have a group of us candidates being talked to along with a drug test. I was lightly teased about the suit thing. I was also given where I’ll be working if I pass the drug test, which was at PHX7 at night shift from Sunday to Thursday, 6:30 PM to 3:00 AM. Then I drove home and, if you were also disappointed at how easy my field test with the car went, I drove in a middle of a rush hour, which was troublesome.
After a month and a half of waiting, I was told to go to the new hire orientation on October 3, 2013 with the actual training and work the following day. The new hire orientation took a lot longer than I expected, so much so that that day counts for a paycheck. And, since dad works on days, it was a decent setup, with him using the car to go to work and back at days and me at nights. So, things were smooth there (aside from Thursday traffic, burr). I was admittedly a slow learner, but I did learn and became what I thought was a reliable worker.
My four years with Amazon, well, I admit that I don’t wish to sound completely negative, especially since it’s my first job and I have no personal reference pool to compare with. Yet it hasn’t been a positive time. My dad contributes it to my sense of fulfillment, which he says we get from work. I used to have a sense of fulfillment with work, but I've lost it due to how work has treated me.
Before I explain, I should elaborate with what type of building PHX7 is. PHX7 is an Amazon warehouse (fulfillment center) where they get in the items, stock them in the shelves or racks, pick them off of the shelves and racks, pack them in packages (or slap them with a SPOO sticker if it can go on its own), and ship them out. Given on what I see, it’s not really one where people generally gets the Amazon Prime packages from, especially since I never see any of the packages used for people with Prime being used here. I work at Outbound, the ones who take the items off of the shelves or racks, have them packed out, and shipped them.
I started out as a floor picker, which I admit hasn’t been that great for my feet. A few months later, I was trained for PIT (powered industrial trucks) as an Order Picker (OP). A few months later, I was trained for pack, where I pack out the items. The building has various pick paths and packing areas, Singles, Multis, Handtape, and BOD. Singles are just that, single items. Multis are group of items that needed to be sorted out in a rebin by a rebiner before they need to be packed out so we know which items goes with which. Handtape are for the long and/or wide and small items that doesn’t work with the Singles/Multis pack setup. BOD (or, as I like to call them, boxes of death) are the large, awkward items that even the Handtape pack setup won’t work with and needed custom boxes to go with.
Anyways, one of the major sense of lack of job fulfillment is the lack of care or empathy the higher ups (particularly the PAs and PGs) have for us associates. My biggest source of that is, back in the middle of 2014, I had surgery to have my left big toenail removed for an ingrown toenail and, when I got to work the following night, walking stick in hand, asked to have a more easier job today, specially slapping shipping labels at the Handtape packing station. They listened . . . for half an hour before they send me to a more physical work at Singles Pack and they were even considering sending me to OP. Needless to say, I didn’t stay after first break and, despite them knowing I can’t do the best I can and I’m barely trained in pack at the time, they still send me to pack where I got my first and second written warning for not reaching rate. It was very stressful at those times.
Another area where I don’t have a job fulfillment sense is, whenever I get very good at one area, they slowly dropped me from working there. For example, I was once one of the very best floor pickers in the building. The last major time I worked on the floor, I was at 100 items picked per hour when the rate of it is 55 and picked out around 900 items that night. Despite that, they don’t send me to that area at much again. Another example is packing Hazmat/small items (Handtape was rearranged so Hazmats and later small items aren’t mixed up with the long and/or wide items) where, at my peak, I can pack out 100 items an hour when the rate is 70. Like, why can’t I be where I am good?
Next, they did some rearrangement to the buildings, with the floor picks being 90% removed for very narrow aisles (VNA) in the middle of the building during 2015, which took a hit at my motivations. Then they did some massive rearrangements for the pack areas, from ending Handtape by moving them to Singles, to changing how the pack stations look and work. When I first started at pack Singles, they were basically three-man teams in a single pack station (as in, three people per single conveyer belt), two doing the packings and one stuffing them with ranpaks and taping them with a machine. Now, it has expanded to stations up eight people who are doing the packing and two people doing the stuffing them with ranpaks and taping per conveyer belt, though those are rarely filled with ten people. More often than not, it’s four or six people doing the packing and one person doing the ranpaking and taping. For something that’s supposed to make it easier and faster to get the packages out to the customers, it felt like they slowed it down massively.
Finally, there’s a great lack of safety in the building, especially with people working with PITs. To explain, in this building, there’s supposed to be a balance for these three things; rate, safety, and quality. One should have a steady and good rate, should always be safe, and be sure the items are in good quality. Yet, associates are only penalized here if their rate aren’t good. We only get lectured if we made a safety violation or if the item is actually damaged or got damaged. As a result, I regularly see associates break at least one safety violation throughout the day. Hell, I saw one guy who turned his OP in the drop zone for pick to be taken for pack the wrong side and spun it around so that the cage connected to his OP slammed into the other cages. And this guy, given on what type of vest he was wearing, works for Safety. If even they will break safety violations, why shouldn’t the regular associates break them?
There’s a whole lot more, but I think you get the point by now. So, what can I do? I hoped going to day shift in 2015 (I was given the car by dad since grandma is in no shape to drive thanks to her Alzheimer’s disease and got her car), but it hasn’t worked out. Then I lowered myself to part-time in hoped that they’ll get the message that I’m getting unhappy with how I’ve been treated, but it may have gotten worse. Before you ask, I doubt I can get myself promoted here. So, what can I do now?
Well, perhaps find a new job, one that’s a lot less stressful and more fulfilling to work in. Perhaps start my career in writing. In the end, I don’t wish to work there anymore.