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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Comparison of Amazon Jobs

Location: Campbellsville, KY (High 62, Low 42)

Another week down! They are flying by!

12295202_10208580474096084_254745475_oBefore I get to the main topic of my post today, just wanted to share a picture from last night. We went out with friends to celebrate the end of the work week and Harry took this picture of me with my celebratory margarita. I love this picture! I am making such great progress now toward my weight goal, losing about 1.5 pounds a week. I’ve lost 21 pounds since we arrived here and almost 52 altogether. The only downside (which is a mixed blessing) is that most of my clothes are now too big. So I see a shopping trip in my future.

At work this week, there was still a lot of what they call labor-sharing. That is when you go out of department to work in another function. On Friday morning after first break, (the first day of our work week), both Harry and I (as well as a bunch of others) got the message to go to Inbound where we found out we were being trained to stow. Since we were pickers, the trainer gave us a pretty abbreviated training and an hour later we were stowing clothes. We ended up stowing two full days and half of the day yesterday. That was the last job that I hadn’t done yet, so now I’ve tried them all. I thought I would give a short description of each of them which might be helpful for anyone thinking they might work at Amazon someday.

A couple caveats before I begin…the following is based on my experience at the fulfillment center in Campbellsville, KY. At another facility things might be done differently. For example, in Haslet TX, they have KIVA robots which bring the bins to the employee, so the picking job would be much different. Secondly, although I don’t plan to specifically say it under each function, all of the jobs require actually standing on your feet for ten hours. There is no way to get around that.



IC/QA stands for Inventory Control/Quality Assurance. This is the function where I have the least amount of experience. I worked doing this job for only about 45 minutes and they were having computer issues that day so I spent much of the time staring at my scanner waiting for it to do something. But that was ok, because this is not the best job for me. It is a very slow paced position which involves scanning a bin and then counting the number of items located there. I personally find this job to be tedious, but if you are looking for a more low intensity position, then this might be the one for you.


Harry and I spent two seasons (well, one full and two third of last year’s) in this department. It is the part of the facility which brings the product in. From what I have seen this year, this job appears to have changed a bit since we were there. Now that Campbellsville has become a clothing facility, a lot of the job function involves various kinds of product prep, including bagging the clothing. Even so, one thing that has stayed the same is that it requires more upper body movement. The product comes in pretty good sized and heavy boxes. The receiver has to pull on the heavy boxes to bring it from a conveyor onto their work station, open boxes, do whatever prep is required and then place the product on carts. (The carts have three shelves so the receiver also will do some bending and squatting.) It doesn’t require much walking though.


I think I would consider stowing to be the second most low intensity position, although my back did feel a little tired at the end of the day. Stowers take the product, either off a juice cart or out of a box, and find a place for it in a bin. It doesn’t require much walking or heavy lifting. I think what bothered my back was the unusual movement of bending over frequently to get the product off the two lower shelves on the juice cart. If we had been working in that job fulltime since the beginning of the season I think I would be used to it by now. The nice part about that job is that you take your cart and go into whatever mod they send you into. Other than that, you are pretty much going on your own. Harry and I were able to work in the same area and talk as we worked which made the time go reasonably quickly.



Picking, of course, is what Harry and I have been doing all season. It doesn’t really require any heavy lifting at all, just lots and lots of walking. If you are picking, you can expect to walk upwards of fourteen or fifteen miles a day. For Harry and I, other than being tired at the end of the day, we haven’t experienced any real discomfort. I have been thankful for our good shoes and the fact that we have trained for half marathons. This is my opinion, but I think campers who have problems with picking do so because of the fast increase of mileage when they first start. (Check out this article.) If you decide to do picking, I would definitely recommend you spend some time each day during the summer before walking to prepare for it, as in get yourself to the point where you walk at least ten to twelve miles a day. You will thank yourself later!


Packing is the last step in the process. Once the pickers have taken the product out of a bin and sent it on its way, it arrives at a packer’s station where it is boxed and prepared for shipping. I think packing is my second favorite department. I liked the fact that there were a number of different jobs to do within the department. The variety made things more interesting. Of course, we worked in Pack in Jeffersonville, so I’m not sure whether campers are working in all those different functions here. Packing is also more upper body focused. You are taking the product out of totes and placing it in the box (after you make it) or into a plastic bag for shipping. I think there were some campers this year who also ended up in the shipping part of the pack department. So they were putting the boxes of product actually right onto the truck. Again, more lifting and squatting. I would estimate that Packing and Receiving require about the same amount of walking, several miles over the course of the day probably, but much much less than picking.

There you have it, the department options in a nutshell!

With Black Friday in just a couple days, I’m hoping that we will mainly be working in our own department now for the rest of the season. We have only four weeks to go now!! That’s 20 more work days!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Third Fifty Hour Week

Location: Campbellsville, KY (High 68, Low 45)

So far it’s been a good month for the bank account! We are in the middle of our third fifty hour week. (We feel like it’s the end of the week because our “weekend” is on Wednesday and Thursday, but really we have two more days left in the pay period.)

The schedule came out for next week (Black Friday and the week after), and Outbound will be working some eleven hour days. They added the extra hour in two half hour sections before and after our normal shift. Campers are not required to do anything more than ten hour shifts up to fifty hours, but Harry and I plan to do the 55s. In fact, if we feel up to it, we are hoping to do 55s for the three weeks after Black Friday. Our money making opportunities are coming to an end in just a little over a month, and we are trying to make the most of it while we can.

We are still walking many many miles at work each day. In fact, this was one of my biggest weeks, with totals of 16.5, 19, 15.5, 16.5 and 19.5 miles. That’s 87 miles in five days!! I have to say, my feet were ready for a break by the end of shift last night. I’ve been running throughout the past months on my days off but I have decided to take a rest day today.


All this walking while keeping up my calorie counting has been good for my waistline! I was super excited yesterday morning to see that I have hit FIFTY pounds lost since I first started working to lose weight over three years ago. (That was on October 1st 2012.) I have 11 pounds left to go to reach my goal weight and am still hoping to get at least within five pounds of that before we leave here at the end of December.

Twenty five work days left to go!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

First 50 Hour Week of the Season Accomplished

Location: Campbellsville, KY (High 66, Low 36)

It’s been one busy week. Now that the facility is back to normal seven day operations, we are back to our normal shift – which is Saturday through Tuesday. Each shift has a mandatory overtime day, which for us is Friday. (For fulltimers, there is also a second mandatory overtime day when weeks go to 60 hours. Not for us this year – we are taking it easy and only working 50s.) So our week actually ends up going from Friday through Tuesday.

This week went pretty well. There is still a lot of walking. Fifteen to seventeen miles is a pretty typical day. From the way it was explained to us today at our midday meeting, it has something to do with the way orders are now grouped. Basically the bottom line is, that we will probably continue to have high mileage days even when the orders start to pick up. Good thing that we’re in pretty good shape.

The new “mod” areas where the construction took place are filling up quickly. It is amazing to me how much has been accomplished in such a short period of time. There seem to be some bugs that still need to be ironed out, like lighting issues for example. But I’m pretty sure, or should I say absolutely positive, that it will be next season for us before we see what they decide to do in these areas. Flexibility and adaptability are good buzz words to keep in mind this year. Especially with the much busier weeks we have coming up before we leave here next month.

We have signed up for voluntary overtime again this week. Second 50 hour week of the season. More importantly, we have, at most, 30 days left to work for our third season here at Amazon!! Yes, the countdown has begun. I am already dreaming about Florida.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Start of Mandatory Overtime

Location: Campbellsville, KY (High 75, Low 66)

We were a little surprised to get into work on Sunday for the first day of our work week to see that mandatory overtime had been called for all of Outbound. 12204080_10208452262290869_1931511208_oEven an optional 60 hour week is available. Harry and I have decided that we aren’t going to do 60s this year. It just wipes us out too much to have only the one day off per week. However, there are 3 weeks where 11 hour days are scheduled for one 52 and two 55 hour weeks and we do plan to do those. Things are about to get busy!



Meanwhile, everything is quiet on the home front. We are so happy to have the cats back to their normal laid back state of life.



In fact, the other day I looked over and Ariel was relaxing in the sun being groomed. Queen of her castle once more.



I12194107_10208442966018468_1808389655_o have been doing a great job of keeping up my running. In the month of October I ran all but two of our days off. 51 miles total! I’m not trying to increase my mileage though. Just running four to five miles at a time at least a couple days per week so I don’t lose all the progress I have made.


I think I may have mentioned back in September that Harry and I were buying Fitbits to keep 12208892_10208468009644543_189929726_otrack of our miles at work. That Fitbit has been such a huge help to me on my continued weight loss journey. It keeps track of the calories I’m burning and I also put in what I’m eating so I know how many calories I’m taking in. I am now up to 16.4 pounds lost since August 31st which I am so excited about! I hope to be really close to my goal by the time we leave here next month.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Report From the Half Way Point

Location: Campbellsville, KY (High 61, Low 37)

Happily everything is back to normal at home. After our three days off last week went by without any altercations between the cats, we decided it was safe to leave them out together while we were at work (after clipping Ariel’s nails to be on the safe side). No problem. We’ve now gone all week with the cats out and about 24/7 and it is so nice to have the extra litterbox, bowl of food and water and cat scratching pad out of our bedroom! It took two weeks for us to get them back to reacquainted status after the one day at the vet’s office. Phew. That was an unexpected complication.

We have now finished week nine at work and are officially past the half way point now. Things are definitely starting to pick up. The only thing keeping us from being really busy is the fact that there is still a significant portion of the building which is empty and waiting for product. The process of bringing in the apparel has ramped up into serious high gear, with Inbound going into mandatory 60 hour weeks starting Sunday.

They had the employee meeting yesterday where they go over the projections for overtime etc for peak season, and it looks like we’re going to get five good weeks of overtime starting in mid November. Since we have been here, the whole facility has been on an abbreviated five day week with all of the shifts either working Sun to Wed or Mon to Thurs. That ends this weekend with the return to seven day operations on Sunday. So now we have to acclimate our brains to our new work schedule. Good thing my phone tells me what day it is.

Physically, I am still feeling really good. I have to say that picking is the job I have enjoyed the most at the facility. I like all the walking (55 miles this week), and after two months, my legs have acclimated pretty well so that they’re not even usually sore and tight at the end of the day like they were in the beginning.  I’ve also been very happy that I have managed to keep up my running on our days off. (Last week I ran 12.5 miles on our three days off.) With all the exercise, and keeping track of my calorie intake, I’ve lost 13.5 pounds since we started work on August 31st. I am hoping to get down at least 20 pounds before we leave here at the end of the year. I’m off to a good start!

Nine weeks down, eight to go!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Not Back to Normal, But Getting There

Location: Campbellsville, KY (High 79, Low 51)

Other than working this week, our main task has been reacquainting the cats with each other. There were several tips in the online articles I read about how to help the process, but basically the bottom line was that the “family scent” had to be recreated. Our method was basically to try to intermingle their scents as much as possible, and give them as much supervised time together as we could.

On our three days off last week, we seemed to be making progress. While they weren’t cozy, Ariel wasn’t making overly aggressive sounds or movements either. 12176084_10208389849010576_799610905_oBut she definitely seemed to be on the alert whenever they were both free, and we didn’t feel comfortable leaving them alone together. We had to take Crookshank to the vet for his last checkup last Friday, and even though we took both of them, by the time we got Ariel home she was not happy and wanted nothing to do with him.

While we were working this week, we continued the same pattern…keeping Ariel in the bedroom overnight and then switching them during the day so that they could each get a good whiff of each other’s scents. They tolerated each other in the evening.


I think we are past the worst of it now. It has been several days since Ariel made any sort of aggressive action. On top of that, her demeanor has been very different, much more relaxed and not on alert all the time. Definitely a relief to have things getting back to normal!






On the work front, things are going well. Neither of us took any time off this week, although VTO was once again offered almost every day. Another full week! Harry walked 64 miles at work this week and I walked 60. We understand that when the work picks up we will walk fewer miles each day. I’m making good use of these exercise days but I won’t cry if I walk a few less miles during a work day!

Eight weeks down, nine to go!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Hey, I Thought We Were All Friends Here!

Location: Campbellsville, KY (High 74, Low 49)

It was another uneventful week at work. It hasn’t picked up too much yet, with VTO still being offered on a daily basis. Harry and I are still enjoying the picking job, and still doing lots of walking – 59 miles for me over the four days and 64 miles for Harry.

The bigger news around here is what’s going on at home. It all started last week when we took Crookshank to the vet for a teeth cleaning procedure. Both Ariel and Crookshank had previously had this done, so we were prepared for the aftereffects of anesthesia and having to doctor him up with medicine. The first evening we were focused on Crookshank. They had to pull four teeth so he came home looking a little worse for wear. We got him settled and left him to sleep it off.

The next morning he got up and was moving pretty good. We thought that it was over, and life could get back to the usual. But as he was walking around, Ariel started acting like a crazy cat, hissing at him anytime he came anywhere near her, and making yowling noises even when he wasn’t nearby. We ended up having to put him back in the bedroom so she would calm down.

I did some research and discovered that, unfortunately, it’s pretty common. It’s called nonrecognition aggression, and is caused by the fact that the cat that went to the vet apparently doesn’t smell like himself. And of course Crookshank doesn’t realize anything is going on, so he keeps trying to go over to her and do his normal “rub up against her and lick her up” thing. We’ve been trying to stay close but one time she did end up getting him in the eye, which resulted in another trip to the vet for a scratch. (We did take Ariel to the vet also so that she could get some vet smell of her own.) Luckily, the eye scratch was something that would heal on its own, although we did have to add eyedrops to our daily routine.

It’s been a crazy week. They are still not back to normal. (From what I have read, more self-assured cats get over it sooner, but Ariel has always been on the skittish side, so that is not helping.) We have a litterbox in our bedroom in addition to our usual one in the living room and when we go to work, or at night, we have to have the bedroom door closed so we can keep them separated. When we are home we let them mingle but we have to keep an eye on them all the time. Supposedly, as they get used to each other’s scents again, this should pass. I am going to try a tip I read in an article today and give them each a good petting down after I douse my hands in tuna water. Oh, the things I do for the “kids”. It will be so worth it if it works!