I’ve been walking…

Before I report on our first full 40 hour week at Amazon – I thought I’d tell you a bit about our weekend.

Friday we took care of some housekeeping stuff, laundry and food shopping.  Our friend, Trace (http://camperchronicles.com) does a great blog and one of her recent posts included talking about meal planning as a way to save money on grocery shopping.  I couldn’t agree more.  Plus, with Bill and I both working full time this week – having a meal plan will save us time and hopefully help us eat healthier and quicker.  We decided I would make pumpkin bread for breakfast/snacks and also Manhattan Clam Chowder and later in the week one of Bills fav’s Honey Mustard Curry Chicken w/Rice.  Off to Kroger we went.  We learned that Kroger now has points like some other grocery store chains.  We earned $0.10 off per gallon so far!

There is laundry here at Heartland and the machines are clean and look fairly new, but they are top loaders.  If I have a choice, I always prefer front loader machines.  First of all, they are mostly always faster and spin the clothes better, therefore saving on dry time.   The day we went out with Dino and Lisa, we noticed a small laundromat called “Due Dirty Laundry”.  Cool name.  Best part was their machines have a quick wash cycle – let’s face it – how dirty do our clothes get?  We aren’t rolling around in mud (not with our clothes on anyways – Ha!  just kidding…) or working as auto mechanics.  I took up one double and one single machine and 2 dryers.  There is another advantage to some laundromats with front loaders – they almost always have multiple size machines, which generally will save money.  We were in and out of there in about 1 1/2 hours!

Saturday we took a ride to take a tour of Four Roses Distillery.  It is one of the places on the KY Bourbon Trail.  There are 9 all together and if you go to all of them and get your passport stamped at them all – you get a FREE T-shirt!  Woot!  Except some of the places charge like $10 per person!  Crazy!  I’m not sure if we will go to all of them – if you continue to read along you will get to find out – but I’m sure we will get to at least a few more.  I am not really a bourbon drinker, but maybe it’s time to expand my palate!  We got a late start – wait – who US?  Say it isn’t so!  We got to Four Roses just before 3pm and the lady at the counter says the 3pm tour is FULL!  We had just driven about an hour and a half to take this tour and we were not the happiest about the suggested “abreviated” 3:30 tour, but not wanting to waste the whole drive, we paid $5 and got our tickets.  Funny side note: the full size 3 o’clock tour was also $5 – not sure how they get away with that!  Anyway, we hung out by the door to the room to where the 3 o’clock tour was going to start and I struck up a conversation with the tour guide who was waiting for all the people with tickets. I told her how we were disappointed to not be getting the full tour and she said “Oh honey – there’s plenty of room – ya’ll just go get yourselves a seat!”  So, we did!  It was a nice tour of a really old facility and Heather (the tour guide) did a great job explaining the whole process.  For those unaware, Bill worked in the distilled spirits industry for almost 20 years before he accepted a position in a juice hot-fill facility.  He knows the processes very well, but still finds it interesting how other companies do things just a little differently.

Getting ready to go in

Getting ready to go in

Cool barrel display

Cool barrel display

Heather, our tour guide - she kept us laughing!

Heather, our tour guide – she kept us laughing!

Cool fountain

Cool fountain

The scales where the tanker trucks get weighed

The scales where the tanker trucks get filled with “white lightening” and weighed

Bill getting a taste of the mash

Bill getting a taste of the mash

Piece of Red Cyprus tree - what used to be used to make the fermenting tanks - it's endangered now so most places use stainless steel. Four Roses will be replacing their nearly 50 year old tanks with Douglas Fir.

Piece of Red Cypress tree – what used to be used to make the fermenting tanks – it’s endangered now so most places use stainless steel. Four Roses will be replacing their nearly 50 year old tanks with Douglas Fir.

One of the many displays in the gift shop

One of the many displays in the gift shop

The tour ended with the traditional tasting.  Why else do people really do tours of an adult beverage factory?  For the samples at the end!  We tasted their “everyday” blended bourbon whiskey, the yellow label, their “Saturday” bourbon whiskey – their Small Batch, and their “Sunday Funday” bourbon whiskey, the single barrel.  I could definitely tell the differences between them, but still not a huge fan!  Working on it though!

Sunday Bill took on changing the front brakes on the truck – the driver side has been making a high pitched squeal noise on and off for awhile.  Turns out he needed to replace the whole caliper on that side.  He believes a piece of rust jammed the pad keeping it from returning or the caliper slide pin got hung up (whatever that means?!)  Thankfully the local AutoZone had everything he needed in stock.  I’ll let him tell you in the following pics:

getting ready

getting ready

the worn out pad on the left, new one on the right

the worn out pad on the left, new one on the right

rubber boots damaged from getting to hot!

rubber boots damaged from getting to hot!

the new caliper

the new caliper

Pushing the pistons back into the caliper with a C-Clamp

Pushing the pistons back into the caliper with a C-Clamp

New brake pads

New brake pads

Tightening the lugs with a torque wrench

Tightening the lugs with a torque wrench

While he worked on that, I made the pumpkin bread and Manhattan Clam Chowder.  Yum and yum!  I know most people prefer the white New England Clam Chowder, Bill and I both love that as well, but we also really love the red.  I’ll tell you this – the red is much better for you – no cream with a bunch of fat calories!  It was awesome, nice and hot in our thermoses during our lunch breaks.

So – to let you know our schedule, we will always be off Friday’s and Saturday’s.  Sunday’s are also a day off, except if we decide to do voluntary overtime, when it is available,  or when mandatory overtime is required.  It has been said that L shift (our split shift) gets the least amount of overtime.  We shall see if that holds true.

Now – without further adieu – what you’ve all been so patiently waiting for – the Amazon update!

Let me start by telling you all – they offered VTO (voluntary time off – which is without pay btw) all week long.  We chose not to take it.  We are here to work and make money – Cha-Ching!  Not taking any VTO means we completed our first full 4 10 hour days!  40 hours of walking!  WOW!  I do believe it is safe to say I have NEVER done that before!

Physically, I am doing ok.  We are both doing ok.  I did take 2 Aleve every night before bed, that’s it.  We do our stretches.  Amazon is somewhat anal about their stretching – they require you do them!  At your 2 start-up meetings every day, once at the beginning of your your shift, once after lunch.  We all do them together, as a team.  Someone leads, sort of like back in HS gym class, some of us even wear the goofy looking shorts – ME!  HA!  We stretch all over, about 8 or 9 different ones in total, and we have to hold each one for 8 seconds!  Some of the “leaders” take the stretching more seriously than others, but I take it seriously, I don’t want any injuries.  Plus they really help keep you from hurting.  I’d be lying if I said I’m not sore, my feet aren’t tired, or my back wasn’t tight, but it physically isn’t horrible.  Better than I thought I’d be so far.  So – good news there.  Bill is holding up well also, his feet are sore, as well as his lower back, but overall, he is good also.

Now, the unexpected part.  It has been a bit of a mental challenge for me this week.  To give you a bit of background, jobs I have held in the past have been very patient oriented.  It was part of my job to chat and ask everyone how they are and hows the family, etc.  You know, the lady at the desk who makes you feel comfortable, which is especially important at the dentist since so many people are NOT happy being there.  When I did my volunteer work, I was also always with people, talking about what needed to be done and getting to know the people I was volunteering with.  I am still friends with a lot of them today.

In contrast, there really isn’t anyone to talk to all day at Amazon.  This is a very “lonely” (only saying that for lack of a better word) position.  There are TONS of people (wait – I’m in KY – there are plenty of “folks”) around, but they are all doing their own thing.  Most don’t even offer a “hello” or “excuse me” (when squeezing by the narrow rows) or even a head nod.  It’s not to say they are rude, just busy going about their own business, reading their own scanners, on their way to their next pick.  I’ve had to ask questions, and when I have everyone has been very nice and willing to help, but this just isn’t a chatty job.  I am a chatty person.  I did briefly talk to my trainer, Bridget, yesterday while waiting for work and she said she understood and that you do get used to it, being in your own head all the time.  She has been with Amazon 11 years and has done all the jobs and said she won’t do any other job, unless just temporarily filling in, again.  She loves picking.

So, I’ve been facing some demons in my own head this week.  I am not used to being so “alone” like this.  I am chatty.  I am an extrovert.  I have an interest and curiosity about people.  It is difficult for me to not be chatty.  So, my mind has been a going a bit crazy while I push my cart from place to place to place to place.  I get bored.  I’ve been thinking all week, this job would be 100% improved if we were allowed iPods, but we are not.  UGH!  If I could be bopping around to Madonna or Michael Jackson or U2, I’d be a happier me!  Instead, I find myself making up stories about the family I am picking stuff for.  Wait – to be clear before I continue – as a picker I have NO IDEA who I am picking the stuff I pick for.  I see NO names or identifying info.  I am not even sure each “tote” is for one family or order, I just see an item and I go get it.  I then put the item in a tote, which sits on my cart.  The scanner tells me when to “fill” the tote, which means I need a new tote.  So, I might pick a few baby items, then dishwasher detergent, then a child costume, then a chlorine dispenser for a pool, then an “adult” toy.  Yes, an adult toy – all shapes, sizes, colors, etc.  I guess if you want to buy that kind of item, Amazon is the way to do it discreetly.

Got off topic – me – imagine that!  I know – it’s hard, but try!  I have found myself thinking a lot about Andrew, who would have been turning 21 on the 19th of this month, but I need to banish those thoughts because they will bring tears.  I have thought about Nana, after 13 years, thoughts of her do not always bring tears anymore, like they used to.  I find myself thinking about Alaska – where we want to go next summer (we are actively searching for a workamper position there – more on that later).  I’ve been thinking about my kids – leaving them behind in PA, how could I do that?  Of course, when I am “sane” I know that is crazy, they are adults, but this is how empty my mind gets, walking and mindlessly reading my scanner, picking the next item. After a while, I will see how well I can memorize the scanner while walking to the next pic, to see if I find the bin and item without looking at it again until I have to scan the items. I find myself counting my steps, that’s when it’s really bad, counting steps.  I find myself thinking – What are we doing here?  Which of course I know the answer to, but it has crossed my mind in a few moments after I haven’t seen anyone for about a half hour.  It gets crazy.  I guess my challenge won’t be as physical as it will be mental.  I have been told there will be an opportunity to sign up to do gift wrap, I will have to wait to see if that still sounds good when the time comes.  I love wrapping gifts.

For those who are asking, “Do you REALLY walk for 10 hours?”, the answer is YES. We walk for 10 hours, except for those brief moments when you arrive at your destination bin and have to look for your item, find your item and then you are off – to the next bin.  Or, there might be a brief time when you are waiting for the packers to catch up to all we’ve been picking and there is a few minutes when your scanner says “no work”.  If I don’t lose weight and get my butt in shape while I’m here, something is seriously wrong with me.  I know people who’ve been here 5 or 6 weeks already and they are down 10 or more pounds.  I have 10 pound to lose and if I lose a few more, that’s ok too.  What I’m looking forward to is getting my jeans on and zipping them up without having to suck in, which is what happened a couple weeks ago.  UGH – they were so uncomfortable, I had to change.  That’s what happens when you gain 10lbs.  Guess the good news is I could zip them at all, right?

So, there you have it, my crazy thoughts about working at Amazon.  The physical job isn’t as bad as I was expecting, but I guess I am in fairly good shape.  If you are unable to walk or have trouble on stairs, you would be in trouble trying to work as a picker.

I believe I will give you a “most interesting picks”.  I didn’t think of it until yesterday, so I only have one this post, and was a product labeled “Bachelorette Party Straws – Pink” – any guess what it is?  If no one guesses I’ll tell you next time.  This should be fun!

We need to continue to work on our meal planning and execution.  We did ok this week, with the chowder and curry chicken.  We also had hot dogs, eggs, salad, and other stuff to fill in.  The pumpkin bread was really good as a snack.  I definitely didn’t feel like cooking during the week, except simple things like the eggs, so I think doing the more involved cooking on Sunday is a good idea.

I mentioned Alaska earlier.  We are looking for a workamper position for summer of 2016.  We have applied at several campgrounds, I have made some cold calls and we have been in touch with a few managers.  Thoughts of this can become all-consuming, somewhat like when I was planning for us for this lifestyle, only this has been a lifetime bucket-list item for me, since before I knew what a bucket list was.  It started back when I was in 4th or 5th grade when we each were assigned a state to do a report on and I was assigned Alaska.  I don’t think I had ever heard of Alaska before that, not sure, but since then I have wanted to go there.  Someone else did Hawaii and I always wanted to go there also, but Bill and I took care of that on our honeymoon.  I’ll keep you posted on how the search goes.  If any of you, my faithful readers, have any suggestions on that I am listening!

I also want to mention – I generally do not post once per week – I don’t want to promise that I will – but I did want to let you know how the first full week went.  I will probably go back to my every other week posting.  I do promise to make notes of anything important – including my most interesting picks.

39 thoughts on “I’ve been walking…

  1. Gee! I have to find me a guy who does car things! I am feting proud that I made an appointment for tomorrow to get my tires rotated and balanced. It’s getting done – and it’s probably less annoying that going man hunting.

    It is kind of odd walking around by yourself like that. I am an introvert, so it don’t mind. I did find myself choking back tears a few time times when I would come across things that I had in my house or belonged to my parents or that I would have gotten them as gifts. Of course, it’s easier to get teary when you’re feeling kind of sore already.

    Good to know about the laundry, too. That is one of the things I like about traveling around. sometimes you find really nice laundromats!

    1. If you were nearby Bill would help you out! I am truly spoiled that I do not have to even think about things like car or truck brakes or any of that stuff. All I have to do is say “Babe – “whatever” is making a noise or doesn’t feel right and he takes care of it. Best part is – he LIKES doing it! Weirdo! But I love him!
      I was also thinking that people who are more introverted, my husband being one of them, probably don’t mind (as much) or even notice they are alone.

  2. Those straws HAD to be penis straws! Kinda lame that they only got pink though. There are glow in the dark ones too! I know they exist cause someone may or may not have bought some as a gag gift for me when I turned 18. They may or may not still be somewhere around the house…

      1. No pun intended but they really suck as functional straws. So much harder to get a solid stream of liquid and you have to suck longer and harder to get more drink than air. (Ok so maybe there was a lot of puns intended there and yes I am laughing to myself about how easy that was to make dirty jokes out of)

  3. First off I am incredibly proud of you. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind you could do this and you are!! Secondly totally get the boredom and not used to not being able to talk to people. I would be suffering physically and mentally if I was there 🙂 Third what a wonderful job explaining how you feel about the job. I agree music would be a huge help, that’s a shame. Maybe you can find a way to make picking a game…when I used to drive alone for several hours for work sometimes I would play the alphabet game with myself just to kill time and stay mentally stimulated. Love hearing about it and again super proud of you!! And try not to worry about Alaska…I have every confidence it’s going to happy for you guys.

    Love ya, Trace
    P.S. Tell Bill my brakes are squeaky too and good for him changing yours!!

    1. Thanks Tracy! I am sure there will be all kinds of mental games I will play to get through a shift!!
      I’m sure WE will find an awesome position in AK!
      Bill says he would help with your brakes but you are too far away!

  4. Kudos on the brakes, Bill! They are the most important system on a vehicle. While it is bad if the engine is not working and the truck won’t move….it is REALLY bad if the truck can’t stop! 🙂

    1. Bill says thanks and he agrees! He was also surprised that there really wasn’t any other symptoms other than the noise! He has always taken care of the maintenance and most repairs on our vehicles, he HATES paying people to do things he is capable of doing on his own, partly to save money, partly he doesn’t trust them. Thanks again!

      1. I’m not sure if you remember back on our blog, but we have had to replace both the front and back calipers over the past year. They locked up to a point they were smoking, yet the power of the truck was so strong that I didn’t notice it until we smelled and saw it. No ‘pull’ on the steering wheel at all. Built Ford Tough…except for the darned calipers. 🙂

        1. There was one teeny thing he did finally check after the squeaky noise had been happening for a little while – he “hit” the brakes with an infrared thermometer and that side was about 100 degrees hotter than the other side – not good and HUGE clue something wasn’t right!

  5. I was so excited to see your post this morning. Glad things are going well. I like to chat as well so I would be talking to myself. LOL. We have been to Alaska twice. The first time in 2009 on a cruise and this past July. We did 6 days on land and another cruise. We love Alaska. Our plan is to go again when we get our RV. We plan to stay about 6 weeks and have been looking at campgrounds and different things already. We love Anchorage and Denali. Good luck with all the planning on that trip. I look forward to hearing all about it and giving me ideas when we can finally plan our trip there. Have a wonderful weekend and great week. Take care.

    1. Great post! Thanks for all the information. Nice job on the breaks Bill, I wouldn’t even attempt it. We did the Bourbon Trail a couple years ago, got the Tee shirts and had a great time. Im not much of a talker, so your description of what its like picking sealed the deal, I told Robin that’s what I want to do.
      Enjoy your next couple weeks.
      Mike

      1. Bill says thanks! As I said above, he takes care of our vehicles and does a great job!
        I’m glad I helped you deciding about Amazon – that’s partly why I do this blog – so others get to know what they are getting into – less surprises! Others have helped me – gotta pay it forward!

    2. Thanks Chris! Would love to hear about your time in AK! We were originally thinking we would go only part of the summer, but then we figured it takes so long to just get there – let’s make it the whole summer! Then, considering how expensive it is to get there – we should get a workamping gig! I’ll keep you updated!

      1. I agree about it taking so long to get there. I would love to know what you end up doing for work after you have completed that. I would be happy to tell you anything I know about Alaska. As I said we really love it there. So much to see and do. Have a great week.

  6. We have never acquired a palate for bourbon either but it would be interesting to take the tours and give it a try. We are busy planning our ’16 Alaska adventure as well, let us know where you land and we will try to stop by!

    1. Hi guys! Here’s a teeny spoiler for next post – but we did go to Markers Mark yesterday and I did actually LIKE their “46”! Not enough to pay $40 a bottle, but progress right?
      I didn’t know you were planning AK in 2016! We would LOVE to see you guys! I’ll keep you in the loop!

  7. Loved reading this, as usual. You and I have this in common…we write just as we chat.
    Your update makes us feel like we’re at OMS, parked side by side, chit chatting.

    We really do enjoy what you share, and sometimes feel a little down that we can’t see one another, spend time visiting with one another.

    Wishing you continued success with ‘picking’ now and work camping in AK next summer.
    One of my high school sisters lives in AK and is visiting here in the lower 48. She plans to spend a week with us before she has to go back.
    Cyber Hugs , and prayers for continued happiness and enjoyment in following your dreams.

    1. Hello! I also wish we could park next to one another again – and sit outside and chit-chat – but for now – sadly – this will have to do!
      I hope you have a great visit with your HS sister – I love that term! I have several of those myself – we live all over the place and keep in touch through FB!
      If your sister has any suggestions for AK, I’m listening!
      Miss you! Hugs!

  8. Most enjoyable blog. Alaska is fabulous. We took our fifth wheel with 3 other couples & 3 dogs. Spent 4.5 months. It was a dry summer which was great for us. If you don’t see Denali because of weather go to Talkeetna you can see it on the way & have a view down at the river in town. I was surprised at the number of people working gift shops that came every summer from the lower 48…
    My question is do u carry heavy stuff up & down stairs?
    Thanks!

    1. Thanks for reading Joanna!

      We were originally thinking of going to AK with a small caravan like you described but we believe it would be better for us to get a Workamper job. That sounds like so much fun!

      As far as carrying stuff – we are only allowed to carry out scanners up/down the stairs – they have conveyors on every level. They are HUGE on safety and need 3 points of contact on stairs at all times!

  9. Hmm, the idea of Bill working in a distillery… I think I’ll chat him up about that if and when you guys find yourselves up our way!

  10. Next week is my first 40 hour week, also on the L shift. I am concerned, last week was painful enough. But you report gave me hope. It hasn’t been the walking as much as the A and B shelves.

    1. Hi Bert! Thanks for reading!
      I know what you mean – the A and B shelves are tough! Advil should help! Also – I never put my knee(s) down on the floor – I squat down and lean my arm on my leg above my knee and if I need to, I sit on my stool. Hope that helps! See you!

  11. Interesting to say the least. I would give it a try, but I’m sure my knees and back would need more than a few excedrin, or Motrin. Love reading your blog. And am seriously jeolious of Bill being able to do auto work.. Please keep writing..

    Jack

    1. Jack – thanks for reading! I’m glad the realistic view of the job is helping you and others make decisions about jobs at Amazon. There other positions than the walking ones – I’ll have to talk about them another time since so many have health issues that so much walking wouldn’t be good for. I also hear that once it gets busier and there are more pickers, the amount of walking will be less. Time will tell!
      And – no worries – I totally plan to keep writing!
      Thanks again for reading – it’s a lot of the reason I write!

  12. Kelly, very interesting! Glad you still hold on! Thanks for assuring privacy, now I can continue my shopping without family jokes and embarrassment (-:

  13. Great read. Like you, (and probably most of us – why else would we be here reading about a stranger’s adventures???) I am a people person. I love my “me time”, but not 40 hours a week worth of silence! I totally get the getting lost in your own head. I wonder if there are ways to get past that. My brain has its own iPod, but generally it’s a one song a day – can’t remember all the words deal that tends to drive me batty. I hope you’re able to stick to your goal of making some dough and losing some pounds. I’ve always been interested in working for Amazon, but there’s no way my husband could do the walking. Which means I can’t wait to hear about the other positions there. You’ve made me want to try the Manhattan clam chowder (because I love tomatoes and could use fewer calories) and you should share your chicken curry recipe too. PS – You’re the 2nd person I’ve met this week that’s going to Alaska (like us) next summer.

    1. Thanks so much for reading! I am sure I will figure out a way to make this work. It isn’t BAD, just not what I expected I guess.
      I will talk about other jobs next time – as much as I know about them anyway. I will talk to people doing those other jobs and relay as much as I can!
      As far as the recipes – since I’m not planning a regular “post” next week – look for me to add a couple new recipes! I will post the link on FB, but I don’t think an email goes out for a new page.
      Thanks again for reading!

  14. I have had lots of trouble with my brakes on my 05 Super Duty Ford. I have replaced all of the calipers because they won’t retract and then hang up causing the brakes to get extremely hot. I use a laser thermometer to check them periodically. This is a Ford problem, not unique to your rig. Let me know if you want to know more, I have done extensive research on this issue.

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