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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

Location: Campbellsville, KY (High 33, Low 16)

What a difference a year makes! One of the great things about a blog is being able to look up what was going on the year before. This morning I looked IMG_6983 back at last Thanksgiving to refresh my memory. We were in the midst of finishing up the emptying out of the house. The house closing was only a few weeks away. They were exciting times.

This year was pretty low-key. We just finished our second 60 hour week yesterday so again relaxing was the main order of the day. I woke up a couple times during the night, but was able to persevere and sleep in to 7:20! What an awesome way to start a day. The day was made more quiet due to the fact that it was a holiday so grocery shopping had to be postponed until tomorrow after work.

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It has been a gorgeous sunny day but still a bit cool. The highs were supposed to be in the 40s but I’m not sure whether we made it. (The temperatures posted above were the official temps from yesterday.) It has been cold but not as cold as the weather we had last December and January when we were living in Catskill, so our fiver has weathered it just fine. This week we are supposed to see the 50s again which will be great for the first week of December.

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This afternoon we met a group of fellow Amazon campers for a Thanksgiving buffet at a local restaurant. We enjoyed some good food and pleasant conversation. Many of us work in different departments so we traded stories of our days.

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Tomorrow we go back to work, but at least the 60 hour weeks are over. Next week we expect to have two days off. YAY! If all goes well, we may only have two more 50 hour weeks and one 40. Yes, that is 15 more work days.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Hope it’s been a great one wherever you are and however you spent it. :)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Seventeen Days

Location: Campbellsville, KY (High 32, Low 18)

Seventeen days! If we are lucky, that is the number of work days that we have left. Based on conversations that we’ve had with campers who worked in Inbound previous years, we are hoping that we will be released at the end of our shift days the third week of December. Since our shift runs Saturday to Tuesday, that would mean that we would be released a few days ahead of the official date of “December 23rd” - which we would be ok with. If we end up working the beginning of our next shift of days, that would be alright too – it would only mean a couple more workdays for us. But we are so ready to get done. Physically, we have managed the 60 hour weeks fine, but we are tired and ready for a break.

According to the schedule that is posted outside the breakroom, next week we are going back to 50 hour weeks. We will appreciate being able to have another day of downtime. I am not sorry that we worked the full overtime schedule but I’m not going to miss it either!

With Thanksgiving this week, Black Friday and Cyber Monday start the beginning of peak for the Outbound crew. I’m not sure how that is going to impact us, but I guess we’ll be finding out soon.

A few people have asked if we intend to return to Amazon next year, and we do. We will use the money that we make here to pay our truck and fiver loans throughout the following year, so our fall experience in Campbellsville is one that we will probably repeat for at least the next several years to come.

But we’re ready for this year’s job to be over with!! 17 more days to work <being optimistic>!!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

37 Hours

Location: Campbellsville, KY (High 59, Low 30)

drive1 We’ve finished our first six 10 hour days in a row. I have to say, it wasn’t as bad I thought it would be. As of yesterday at 4:30, we started our 37 hours off before we head back to work tomorrow morning.

To celebrate our “Friday”, we made plans to go out to dinner last night with another camping couple we have met here. The place we went is called the “Out of the Way Cafe” and it definitely is that!

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It was a beautiful drive and we enjoyed a nice dinner and a couple hours of conversation before our long week started to catch up with us, and we said our goodbyes to head home and enjoy a long good night’s sleep.

drive5With only one day off, our priorities have definitely become clearer. There are only a few things on our agenda for today in addition to relaxing. We are meeting another couple for lunch at a bbq place we haven’t tried yet. There is a load of laundry in the washer already, and at least one more load yet to be done. We have to do a bit of grocery shopping and get our propane tank filled.

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And the best part – we’re both having a massage! Massages have been a lifesaver for us over the past two and a half months. It was an expense we didn’t expect, but I think it is really what has enabled us to get in shape, and feel pretty good physically even with the long hours and type of work we are doing.

Four weeks left!!!

Monday, November 18, 2013

One Scary Evening

Location: Campbellsville, KY (High 68, Low 56)

Maybe it’s just because I’m not used to them. I mean, if we were to find out today that there’s a major cold front heading our way with subzero temperatures and a possibility of a couple feet of snow, we’d shrug our shoulders and say, oh well, that’s a bummer. But to hear mention of some tornadoes touching down in an area only a couple hours away - that tends to get my attention. Just a bit short of one year on the road, and the one thing I really hate about this lifestyle is the exposed feeling I have when there are severe storms in the area. And yesterday was another one of those days.

The morning started out with severe wind warnings. We had to work, so at break times we checked the temperatures and they seemed to be staying a little lower than expected. We hoped that this would help to keep the weather from being quite so bad. After work we decided to stay in town and visit a Chinese buffet for dinner. As we ate we watched the skies get darker and more ominous. I didn’t even think about taking a picture! On the radio they were talking about the storm system and the direction it was heading. There had already been numerous tornadoes from the system. We talked about it, and decided we really wanted to find someplace safe to ride out the storm. Unfortunately, there is nowhere at this campground to go in the event of severe weather. So on the way back to the campground, we stopped at a church that was open and asked if we could possibly hang out there while the storm went through. They were very hospitable and told us to come on over, and that we could bring the cats. So we grabbed a few necessities and headed back to the church for a couple hours. The building was so sturdy that we didn’t even know it was raining. So that was just fine by me. Some people say it was a bad storm, others say not so bad. But either way, I don’t regret finding someplace secure to wait it out.

Work is going well. It has really picked up. We should be bringing in something like 1.7 million units this week. We are now on 60 hour weeks. As of today, we have finished 40 hours of our work week and we have two more days to go. Right now, Thursday is our only day off. I”m not sure whether that will be the case for the next three or four weeks. What I do know is that one month from today we will be almost done!! YAY!! That’s going to be one exciting day. :) (And hopefully, no more bad storms between now and then.)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Moving Right Along

Location:  Campbellsville, KY (High 56, Low 26)

Our sights are starting to get pretty fixed on the end, which seems like it is in sight even though peak is only just starting to get ramped up. We have almost a million units coming in per week now, so Inbound is pretty busy these days. I’ve also been doing a different job for most of the past week. I‘ve already described the job that the receiver does at the station – taking the product out of the box and receiving it on the computer. Of course, sometimes when the person takes the product out of the box and scans the info, something doesn’t work right. When that happens, there is a way to turn on a light at the station which plays a tune that summons help. The help person is called the “PG” which stands for process guide, but which I affectionately have been calling the “problem picker-upper.” This person is also the one that takes the full carts away and brings empty carts. For the past week I have spent most of my time being that person, which entails a lot of walking. I have actually lost about 2.5 pounds! It’s a lot of walking on concrete which is a little hard on the legs, but on the bright side I wouldn’t mind getting rid of a few more pounds before we head out of here.

Speaking of heading out of here, we were looking at a calendar yesterday, and we might possibly have only about 5 weeks left to go. Our end date is “to be determined”, as in whenever we are released. The absolute end release date is the 23rd. But Inbound’s peak will be over by the week before that, so we are thinking (hoping) that we might be released when our “week” ends on Tuesday, the 17th of December. We are going to be ready!!

In other news…oh wait, do we have any other news other than work? :) Well, the water heater is now fixed. The repair guy came back this week and did the repair. His costs were very reasonable, and the electric side is now getting our water very hot, so we were very pleased with his work. 

We actually had a little bit of the white stuff yesterday. Nothing big by our standards. It was blowing around and just sticking a little bit. As soon as the sun came up, it warmed up enough that everything melted. Although by the way some people were dressed, you would have thought we were in the Arctic somewhere. So far so good for autumn in Kentucky. And we have only five weeks to go! Hopefully. :)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Two Months Down!

Location: Campbellsville, KY (High 55, Low 28)

Believe it or not, today marked the two month anniversary of our starting date at Amazon. I think we have both acclimated to the work pretty well. For the most part, our sore muscles are a thing of the past. We just come home from our shifts bone tired and pretty much ready for bed. We also just finished our first 50 hour week, as we did end up having the overtime shift yesterday. I feel for the people who are just starting at Amazon for the season – I can’t imagine just starting and jumping right into the overtime weeks. At least for them it’s only for six weeks, a small saving grace. That’s another amazing thought - six weeks is all that we have left, it’s so crazy – I know those weeks are going to go so amazingly fast.

I spent some time on Thursday doing some planning and dreaming…looked at some of the places we are going to stay and checked them out on Google Earth. I am starting to get really excited at the thought of getting back out there on the road again. By the time the middle of December comes, I am going to be SO ready.

The weather has still been pretty nice. The overnight temps have been a bit cool, but the days are beautiful, in the 50s mostly, and with the sunshine it feels very pleasant. I saw pictures on facebook that friends and family posted over the past few days – they have been starting to get the white stuff up north. I’m sure not missing that.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Water Heater Update

Location: Campbellsville, KY (High 72, Low 47)

(Blog post by Harry) As you may remember about a week ago we developed a problem with our water heater. We came home from work and it was no longer working on electric but worked on gas. Having repaired and replaced water heaters in our home many times I checked the circuit breaker, 12 volt fuse, the inside and outside power switches and the thermostat reset button immediately with no fix. In August, I had flushed sediment from the heater as preventive maintenance so I knew that and the Anode rod were ok. At that point, I thought the thermostat or the heating element were no good. If this were the water heater in house I would have just dealt with it. But this is an RV water heater and I have no experience with them. Things in the RV are similar to the house but different at the same time. So it was time to call a mobile RV repair person for help and to watch and learn.

It just so happens that G&D RV Repair Service is 1/4 of a mile down the road from our campground. I called and left a message last Tuesday and Greg returned my call within an hour. Greg indicated he could come out the next day about 2:30 or 3:00. We couldn’t do that as we were going out for Jessica’s delayed birthday dinner and I didn’t want to delay it again on her. So I arranged to have Greg come out yesterday to look at the water heater and determine the problem. Luckily, we were able to wait because the gas side of the water heater worked fine. We actually had hotter water on gas then electric.

Yesterday at 2:30 Greg arrived right on time. As it turns out Greg does RV repairs as a second job. In addition, Greg was manager of a Fleetwood plant here in Campbellsville KY before it closed down. So I guess he should know his way around an RV. Greg pulled the outside cover and showed me where the thermostat is located. I didn’t have a clue. The red arrows in the picture point to the thermostats and reset buttons for both the electric and gas sides of the water heater. You will note there are cracks in the rubber that cover the reset buttons. Greg is going to replace that whole black cover so water can’t get in there.

On either side of the cover there is a screw that you remove to expose both thermostats. Greg wanted to test the electric thermostat with his multi meter to see if it was bad.

When he removed the cover the problem was found without any testing required. As he removed the cover the reset button for the electric thermostat fell out. The blue arrow points to the reset button for the gas thermostat on the right. There should also be one on the electric thermostat on the left. The green arrow points to where it should be located. You will notice the top connection to the electric thermostat is burned and melted. That thermostat burned out and must be replaced. Greg didn’t have the parts so he went back to the office and ordered them and will be back maybe Friday to fix it. A very easy fix. Thank goodness!!

This morning I found a You Tube video on how to replace the thermostat. It’s real easy!! Just turn off the power, remove those two wires and then remove that nut in the middle of the thermostat. Pull the old one out and insert the new one. Put the nut, two wires and cover back on and turn the power back on. Maybe a 15 or 20 minute job. In the future, I will know where to check and be able to test the thermostat and replace it if needed. Something new learned and added to my tool chest. The You Tube video also showed how to replace the heating element. Pretty much the same as a house water heater and it indicated the element is nothing special and can be obtained at Home Depot or Lowes, and removed with the same tool you would use on your home water heater. I kept that tool thinking I might need it some day. Now it surely has a use for the RV.

I hope this information will be helpful if you encounter this problem, and you may be able fix it quickly and cheaply without needing to call a repair service.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Will We Or Won’t We?

Location: Campbellsville, KY (High 62, Low 37)

The big question of the day is whether we will have mandatory OT on Friday. There is a Camperforce page on Facebook that I follow, and I read on there this morning that the shift that was supposed to have OT today got a call last night not to come in today. The rest of the week’s Inbound shifts are still on Mandatory Overtime as of right now. So as far as we know, we do…but we won’t know for sure until Thursday when we might, or might not, get a phone call telling us to stay home. I have very mixed feelings…I would love to have a nice relaxing day on Friday, but on the other hand, I really want to make the overtime money. So I guess I will just try to be happy with whichever way the wind ends up blowing.

Work went well this week. We have been receiving cases of cat food and dog food, hunting products, and a lot of toys…little action figures, barbie type dolls – like Monster High etc. (which I never heard of before I saw them here) and tons of products by Melissa and David…you know…the company that makes all those nice toys made out of wood. Let me tell you – a box with twelve to thirty of their products in it is extremely heavy. And we do probably 50 or more boxes of a company’s product at a time. Even so, I’m feeling pretty good still. Still have very tired hands and tight shoulders, but I was thinking today that it doesn’t seem to be as bad as it was a few weeks ago. They will probably get in shape…oh…I figure right around the middle of December! ;)

We don’t have too too much on the agenda for the next couple of days. We’ve had a small issue with our water heater – it’s not working on electric. I call that a small issue because thankfully it is still working fine on propane. So we have someone coming to take a look at it tomorrow. The weather is looking pretty nice so Harry wants to wash the roof. And other than that the usual…laundry, grocery shopping…all that fun stuff. We have to take care of the most necessary first…since we don’t know yet whether we have a two day or three day weekend. Oh…and it’s time for another payday again! Woot woot!! Still my favorite part of the job.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Mandatory OT

Location: Campbellsville, KY (High 58, Low 40)

It’s been a busy few days. On Thursday, we didn’t do too much. There was a weather system coming through that had a lot of high winds and rain with it. So we basically hung out and kept track of the weather. There was a tornado watch in the evening and that was a little worrisome. It’s the one thing I don’t like about this campground – there are no sturdy shelters to go to in the event of inclement weather. The closest option is a church a couple miles down the road, but that’s not really someplace that we can go and hang out with the cats. We were thankful that nothing more severe than rainstorms happened at our location.

Friday we slept late after not getting to sleep until the middle of the night before. We did a little grocery shopping, and finally went out to eat for my postponed birthday dinner – at one of our favorite spots, Texas Roadhouse. It was a nice relaxing day after the stormy one. Of course, we once again headed to bed early in anticipation of heading back to work on Saturday morning.

Work is also getting very busy. The department we are in is part of “Inbound” and is basically already experiencing peak season. We arrived at work yesterday morning to discover that all shifts of Inbound have been called for Mandatory Overtime for this week. So we will now be working Friday on top of our normal days. According to the peak schedule, we work every Friday now until mid December. We will have Wednesday and Thursday off until we hit the two 60 hour weeks, and then we will just have Thursday off.

My cooking schedule has started to go a bit by the wayside. My enthusiasm for spending one of our days off cooking has waned along with my energy level! I have already told Harry that this last seven weeks most of our meals are probably not going to be homemade. I’m still making our lunches though; definitely don’t want to get in the habit of throwing money away on vending machines!

Other than that stormy day, our weather has still been nice. Highs in the 50s and 60s – lows in the 30s and 40s. Sounds good to me – it’s not bad for early November in my book. :)