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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Jeffersonville Week One

Location: Louisville, KY (High 59, Low 32)

Wow, it’s been quite the week. Harry and I have found this facility to be quite different from what we are used to in Campbellsville. We knew it would be, but knowing, and adjusting to the difference, are two different things. I think we have settled in though and are now enjoying the experience more than we were the beginning of the week.

Some of the differences here are just because of its size and location. I was thinking yesterday that coming to this facility is like moving from a small town high school or small private college to one in a urban area. Just because of the numbers, some of the personal touch is lost. At the start up meetings in Campbellsville, there’s one big circle. (Well what I thought was big until we got here.) Even at our largest, right before we left to come to Jeffersonville, in the morning meeting, you could look around and see everyone. Here, there are SO many people. At the startup meetings, most people can’t even hear what the manager or PA (like an assistant manager) is saying. In Campbellsville, there is a list with everyone’s assignment. Here there is a board with assignments, but there are only a fraction of the people listed. No one who is new is on there, and here there are a LOT of new people. So basically in the morning, everyone goes and finds a job. Most days you just go where you were the day before and start doing whatever you were doing.

The first couple of days were very strange. Mostly because of the point I just made. Being new to the place, we didn’t have a job we’d been doing the day before. And they didn’t seem to know what to do with us (the whole group of us, not just Harry and me). So a lot of us spent most of Wednesday and all of Thursday making gift boxes. That was interesting.

Then on Friday morning, we seemed to settle in a bit and things started to fall into place. First good thing on Friday was that the PA was back who had moved us to doing the one job we’d had other than gift box making for a couple hours on Wednesday afternoon. So Friday I spent all day doing a task called “scan verify”, putting future gifts into shipping boxes and sending them down the line to be wrapped. I really enjoyed that job. I also finally got “permissions” for the computer as well, so I could sign in on my own rather than working under someone else’s login. Harry worked in “slam”, which meant he scanned a bar code to print a shipping label for the boxes coming off the gift wrap line to send them to the truck.

Yesterday morning when we went in, we employed the “do whatever you were doing” method, and trotted ourselves right back to the same place and got busy. It was awesome. It was the first day since we arrived that I could just walk in, sign in and get to work. I spent all morning doing the same job as the day before. Then the work for gift wrap ran out and we were moved over to packing. I wasn’t trained for it here, but we did it last year for a couple weeks at Campbellsville, so I just signed in at a station and got going. It wasn’t that different. Took me a few minutes to get acclimated, but luckily the computer gives enough prompts that it wasn’t really that hard to remember the process. We were both packing for the rest of the day.

The days are long. We get on the bus at 5:30 in the morning for a 6:30 start. (I really like the bus rides. There’s camaraderie with the other campers (there are 30 of us riding the bus) and it’s so great not to have to think about traffic or warming up the truck in the morning.) We are working 11 hour days here so we work from 6:30 until 6 with a 30 minute lunch at 11:15. Then we get on the bus for the ride home. By the time everyone gets on the bus it is anywhere from ten after to quarter after six. So we have been getting home a little before 7 pm. Like I said, a long day. But it’s only for 3 more weeks!!

Five work days down, 16 or 17 to go!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

First Day Down

Location: Louisville, KY (High 63, Low 41)

Today was our first day at the facility in Jeffersonville, IN. We got to sleep in a little later than a normal workday with our alarm set to go off at 4:30 am. The bus was supposed to leave at 6:30 so we wanted to leave ourselves plenty of time to get everything together.The coach pulled in about ten after six, which actually surprised us and we both jumped to look at the clock, thinking that we might be running late. But nope, he was just early.

The ride to the facility went pretty smoothly. We had a few stop and go moments on the highway, but it’s amazing how stress free those times are when we’re sitting in the seats of a bus as opposed to driving our own vehicle. We arrived at the fulfillment center in around 35 minutes. In hindsight, that was the fastest part of the day…it reminded me of that saying, hurry up and wait!

So for the rest of the day…the positives…our badges worked after they adjusted something in the system. There were some people whose badges still weren’t working when we were trying to head out through the turnstiles at the end of the day, so we were two of the lucky ones. We also got lockers first thing in the morning, so that was a pleasant surprise.

The biggest thing that wasn’t a positive for me personally was finding out that we weren’t going to be in picking after all. I’m trying to look at the bright side of that, but I really was looking forward to getting some walking in. The “powers that be” changed their minds yesterday and decided that the only people they wanted to put in picking were the campers who had picked in Campbellsville. That was announced right after they passed out all the locker assignments. (The lockers are about the same size as the one we had, but we each have one so we have twice the room.)

So after sitting around some more, in first one, and then a second, break room for about an hour or more, we were divided up into teams for a tour of the facility. The building is really huge. There are two downstairs break rooms and at least one other upstairs near the packing department. They are all full size break rooms with microwaves, vending machines, refrigerators, etc.

We stopped in the upstairs break room to drop off our lunches and then headed into the packing department. We were given a little overview of each part of the floor. Some of the stations seemed familiar, but many of the processes looked new. It sounds like we will be moved around the different jobs much like we were in receiving, so I will report more on the various duties as I work them. Today we worked on the jewelry prep line. That entailed taking a tote, which might have a couple or up to fifteen, twenty different pieces of jewelry in little plastic bags. For each piece of jewelry, we would take the earrings or bracelet or whatever and place it in a black jewelry box and then replace it in the tote. After boxing each piece, the totes are placed back on a cart and eventually taken off to a packer.

That was the extent of our work today. If we worked, by which I mean actually had our hands on the product, for a solid hour, that was it. At 2 pm we met with the leadership teams and had the opportunity to ask questions. We also found out our schedule for the rest of the week. And then we headed out to catch our bus back to the Expo.

First work day down! Twenty or so to go!!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A New View

Location: Louisville, KY (High 65, Low 32)

Ready to pull out of Heartland Campground...

Yesterday was moving day. After three months in Campbellsville, we hooked up and headed out for Louisville and our new job. We had one little glitch when our stabilizers didn’t come up, but luckily Harry knew how to bring them up by cranking them in manually. (More experience from our year plus of driveway camping before we started fulltiming.)

Sunshine on the road...

It started out as a dark and dreary day, but happily as we traveled along we drove out of the cloud cover into a bright blue sun shiny day. We were following our friends and Heartland neighbors Dave and Kathy.

 

View from our rig at the fairgrounds...It was an extremely quick trip of only 80 miles and very soon we were pulling into our new digs. We had been told that with an event finishing up on Friday there might still be people pulling out and packing up, but the place was pretty empty.

The attendant came out and explained how the hookups work here. They have central yellow boxes with the electric hookups throughout the parking area. Each box has four 50 amp and four 30 amp hookups, Our rigs parked at the Expo Center...and the rigs park around that box. We were glad that we had friends to park on the other side of us. Behind and between us is the electric hookup. Right now we still have water but at some point that will be turned off. The rv attendant told us that with warm days forecast for the next ten days we should have at least that long before they turn the water off.

We also had a great and happy surprise when our stabilizers came back down on their own without any issues. We had not been looking forward to having to do another repair.

The sign at the entrance to Amazon...

 

After we got settled in, we took a ride to check out the Amazon facility. It was HUGE.

Profile shot of the Amazon facility...

 

 

The pictures really don’t do it justice, but it makes the Campbellsville facility look small.

 

Getting ready to enjoy our frozen treat...

 

On our way back to the fairgrounds, we stopped at Culver’s for a new experience for Harry and I – frozen custard. Wow. Yum. SO good.

Oreo volcano smash!!

 

 

 

 

 

Sunset over Louisville...

 

And on our way home we were treated to a beautiful sunset as we drove back to the expo center.

 

We have another two days off, so nice. We start work at the new facility on Tuesday.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Another Uh Oh! and Update on our Move

Location: Campbellsville, KY (High 39, Low 24)

I hope that we have now had enough of things breaking down and needing repair – at least for a little while. The latest happened yesterday. I got up in the morning and went to turn the furnace on to warm up the bathroom…and….nothing. That’s never a good thing, but somehow seems even worse at 3:40 am when you’re getting up to get ready for work. I told Harry and he went out to check our propane, but came back in with the news that we did still have propane.

My first thought was that we would be moving on Saturday closer to where that mobile tech was located who fixed our water heater a few weeks ago. But we took a look at the weather forecast and saw 20s for lows overnight and decided that we didn’t want to take a chance on no heat going into the basement area for several days if we didn’t have to.

I remembered reading a thread recently on the heartland forum about another couple whose furnace stopped working, and that it had turned out to be a bad control board. I told Harry and he started doing some research. We decided that I would go to work and he would stay home to hopefully fix our furnace.

At 9 am, Harry started making a couple phone calls…first to our favorite go-to repair guys at home in Catskill and also to the mobile tech we had used here for our water heater. Here is the furnace after Harry got it out of the rig.They both had great information and suggestions for Harry to work on the furnace repair. Both of them agreed that the likely culprit was the control board. So unfortunately the first step was to remove the furnace so he could get to it.

The empty space...

Those three spaces in the back are where the ducts attach to the furnace. The wires on the top left are for the thermostat and 12v battery connection.

Front of the control board...

 

He removed the control board and made a trip over to the local rv place to see if they had one in stock. Luckily they did!

Back of the control board...

 

You can see up at the top of the control board where there is a small burn spot where it burned out.

 

The finished product...

 

All fixed, put back together and we have heat!! Smile

 

 

In other news, we are preparing for our move to Louisville KY tomorrow. I had my last day at the Campbellsville facility yesterday while Harry was home repairing the furnace. We are both really going to miss the fulltime Amazon workers we are leaving. We have had a lot of fun working with them over the past three months.

We are, however, really looking forward to four days off. Our first day at the new facility is Tuesday, and we are expecting to be pickers. From what we have heard, almost all of the 100 campers moving to the Jeffersonville facility will be working in picking. Our hands are going to get a break and now it’s up to our feet to carry us through the last four weeks. Both Harry and I are looking forward to seeing what it is like to work in this outbound department as opposed to being in receiving. We’re going to find out soon!

Thirteen weeks down, four to go!!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Got the Word

Location: Campbellsville, KY (High 33, Low 15)

Well, we found out yesterday that we are about to embark on a new adventure! Harry and I are two of the 100 campers that are going to be working at the Jeffersonville, IN facility for the remainder of peak season. We will be leaving Campbellsville at the end of this week.

I believe that for the next four weeks the name of the game is going to be – FLEXIBILITY. Right now we have some unknowns and a bunch of “I thinks”. We are going to be staying at the Expo Center and will be bussed to the facility and back on work days. The Expo Center shuts the water off in December, but Amazon is going to pay for a water truck which will come every other day.

We are not too depressed that our 60 hour weeks are at an end. The facility in Indiana goes to 55 hour weeks during peak and adds an hour to each day to make 11 hour shifts. So we will be working 5 days and having two days off, which I think I am going to like better. And the best part is that we will be making more each hour so we will make almost as much money for each 55 hour week as we made here for our 60s.

What I’m still figuring out is how we are going to work our meals, especially dinner. With such long work days and a bus ride at the end of it, I think we may be eating a lot of sandwiches in the next four weeks. But it’s only for four weeks.

We are kind of excited to go to a different facility, and a new one at that, and see how it is different there. But it is a bittersweet excitement, because we are really going to miss the people – both the friends we have made here among the fulltime workers and the camper friends we have who won’t be going. We are getting together with a bunch of the campers for one last dinner out this week. And then it will be off to a new adventure for the last four weeks of our second peak season with Amazon.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Big Changes Could Be Ahead!

Location: Campbellsville, KY (High 36, Low 25)

Well, no point in talking about the weather here, since the majority of the country is “enjoying” it along with us. But I will say that thirty degree highs make for a chilly day at work unloading trucks. There’s no heat out in that there truck!! Today was a first for me, as I went to work with my jeans on and THREE layers – two long sleeve shirts and one t-shirt. And TWO pairs of socks. Very glad that tomorrow is our day off. We have made it through another sixty hour week.

Now to the BIG news.

So…the reason that we have been having overtime is that we are helping another facility out, one that is located outside of Louisville KY. Their employees have been on overtime weeks for months and they still can’t get caught up. So some of their product has been coming to Campbellsville.

Well, a little over a week ago, we got an email telling us about an opportunity for camperforce in Campbellsville, to transfer to Jeffersonville for the last month of peak. They were looking for 100 campers to make the move and were offering a $500 bonus per person, after taxes, to anyone who signed up. The main area they were planning to send the campers to was at the Expo Center in Louisville.

We talked about it, read what other people had to say about construction in the area and driving over the bridge to work each day, thought it over, and decided that it wasn’t worth making the move. (Although I was tempted.)

Then we read that they had agreed to provide a shuttle. So all campers who stay at the Expo will be bussed to work and back each day. Talked it over and decided, nope. Still wasn’t worth it.

Then yesterday we were told that Amazon was still hoping to get a certain minimum number of campers to move and to that end, had now offered a bonus of TWICE the initial amount, PER person, after taxes (meaning grossed up so that we get that amount net.) Well, that swayed us from one side of the fence to the other and we decided that finally we had heard an offer that was worth it to us. So we have signed up and may be making a move to Louisville KY next weekend for our last four weeks. I say “may” because even though I’ve been told we’re on the list, I’m not going to count on it for sure until we get the email telling us so.

So we may be having a new adventure coming up shortly! Stay tuned!!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Overtime - Yeah!

Location: Campbellsville, KY (High 51, Low 32)

Last week we could feel the tide turning, and while we were off for our three day weekend it completed the turn with a vengeance. By the time we went back in this past Sunday for the first day of our workweek, not only was Inbound on mandatory overtime, but they were offering voluntary OT up to 60 hours. Harry and I talked it over briefly, but it didn’t take us long to decide to go for it. We did 60s last year and individually they really aren’t bad. Just another day. It’s over the long haul that they wear on us. I would do 60s every week until we get done in December if I could. (I don’t know that Harry quite shares my enthusiasm. Sarcastic smile) We have only six weeks left. I want to rake in every penny that I can between now and then.

So obviously other than work there’s not much going on. We are off today and I am awake super early as usual these days. Once we get going this morning we have a number of things to get accomplished today, like laundry, grocery shopping etc. We have been going to the cafeteria at the local college quite a bit this year which has really cut down on our grocery shopping. Basically I only have to buy our lunch items and maybe something for one meal with enough for leftovers. Not only is the food good there, but you can’t beat the price – $61 for a card that covers five meals for the two of us. It has made these overtime days so much easier, and we are eating better too, since last year we ended up eating a lot of premade, processed foods out of the freezer section of the grocery store. I’m wondering if eating better is another part of the reason that I am feeling more energetic this year.

ragettisouting

The college isn’t our only eating establishment of choice though. Last night we had a little after-work get together with some of our camper friends and fellow Amazonians. We had some good conversation and a lot of laughs. It was a great way to end our week.

Today we are off and tomorrow we begin Week 12. Six weeks to go!