Yes, we are crazy!
But, you see, we were new to workamping and it sounded like such a great deal: good pay, lots of hours, RV site, and utilities included.
If you are accustomed to rather vigorous manual labor in ten-hour stretches and no time for a life outside of work, you would have no problem working at an Amazon Fulfillment Center (AFC). The work environment itself requires no cellphones, no watches, and virtually no jewelry. You can pack a lunch and snacks or avail yourself of vending machine offerings. There are no chairs or stools as all jobs require standing and some require a great deal of walking, stooping, and reaching. Keeping yourself hydrated is a priority and you will want to keep water within reach at all times.
We, the temporary workampers, work alongside the year-round employees. Even though the pay is by the hour only, management continuously applies pressure to work faster. Interestingly, this works incredibly well with, especially, the regular employees which, I think, is just a pride issue to show how well they can perform when we workampers are their audience. An Area Manager will have one line compete with another line for the next hour or quarter and they will knock themselves out to win the acknowledgment of being the fastest to pack, stow, or pick products!
Working overtime during the Christmas season means that you have no family Christmas time of your own. Some of the workampers celebrated Christmas after December 24th since a significant Completion Bonus would be lost if you were to miss any days or leave any sooner. Thanksgiving was a potluck at the campground if you had that shift off.
Near the end of our job assignment, I finally read the book:
We not only finished the season ‘packing toys for little Timmy’, but we also decided to extend into January. We declared “never again” and moved onto other adventures.
Crazy times 2
Now, call us crazy, but the following season, we wound up doing another stint at an AFC! I’m putting it at about an 8 on a crazy scale of 10. No one was hurt. We got paid. The prideful among us learned humility. This time, we vowed, “never again”.
We learned a lot about Amazon as an employer and I read some more. While I respect their e-commerce success, I have found many merchant partners, suppliers, and employees feeling less than respected. Amazon runs all aspects of its business model by the numbers. How low can your price be? How fast can you pack? How fast can you unload a truck?
As for us, we traveled on. The next spring, summer, fall, and winter were filled with awesome experiences in the West. By the next spring, it became time to head east, closer to family again. We took an assignment for 6 months in northern Georgia. Amazon was building new AFC’s including one near our children in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. We took note, but they would not be having workampers as demanded by the state of Tennessee.
Crazy, Crazy, Crazy!!!
As a member of the Amazon Camperforce Facebook group, one day I see an announcement that the new Murfreesboro FC is open for Camperforce applications! Imagine our surprise. Still, didn’t imagine we would do it, but looked into it. They were not ready for workampers as they had no local campgrounds nearby with agreements to house the needed number of workers. The shortest commute would be from Manchester at about 20 minutes and most would need to set-up in Nashville with a 40 to 60-minute commute.
So, you can see where this is going—
We did a third stint at Amazon 😕 We got in at Manchester and we carpooled to work. On the Crazy Scale: 12 out of 10.
What drew us to working in Murfreesboro, during the Christmas season, was, of course, the fact that we would be so close to our kids and grandkids. The commitment to Camperforce occurs during the summer. Our son-in-law, finally, gets the transfer and new position that he had been seeking in early fall. They wind up moving away from Murfreesboro just before we come into work October through December!
Products not mentioned yet:
Packing our lunches meant we used our NuWave oven heavily. Upon arriving home, we’d quickly have a nice meal for two plus two more to pack and reheat in the breakroom at work the next day.
Two of these stints were performed on the equivalent of ‘second shift’. Regular RV Day/Night Pleated Shades are not enough to block enough light and we switched out the bedroom windows to Day/Night Roller Shades and added a blackout drape at the doorway between bathroom and bedroom.