Saturday, January 26, 2013

What about Amazon?

Just so you know.....this blog entry will be in addition to my normal daily blog entry about nothing......:D

It has been four weeks to the day since we departed Campbellsville, KY and, and it is time to evaluate our experience, and answer the question most often asked....."Would we do it again?"

Elaine and I are in pretty good physical condition for our 63+ years, and we made a sincere effort over the months before we began to work at to stay fit through bike riding, and hiking.  In the 2 months leading up to our October 8th start date we did a LOT of walking.....often up to 5 miles a day.  We tried on 100's of pairs of shoes trying to find the best pair, or pairs for our 11 week stay.  Ultimately, the shoes we wore the most at Amazon were ones we bought AFTER we had been working there for a few weeks.

We found out that the only way to prepare for standing and walking on cold concrete for 10-12 hours per night was to actually do it.  It's not the distances walked each night (10-12 miles) that was the problem, it was being on our feet for that many hours in succession. The shoes we purchased prior to our arrival were all good shoes....they just were the wrong size.  "Wrong size?" you ask....don't we know what size shoes we wear?  Yes, yes of course we do, but we did not count on our feet increasing in size by one whole shoe size during our 11 weeks.  Shoes that worked the first two, or three weeks, were too small ultimately.  For me the two pairs of Keen hiking shoes I own were the best shoes for me, and I alternated between the two pair for the last 8 weeks.  

After a few weeks I found that the cargo shorts with underwear were just uncomfortable at end of the shift.  I had a pair of ExOfficio convertible pants with netting requiring no underwear to be worn.  If you are wondering why just imagine yourself living in a humid, warm climate.....would you rather wear board shorts, or shorts with underwear all the time?  Ultimately I zipped off the lower part of the pants, turning them into shorts, and wore them every night (TLE had to wash them every couple of days), with a t-shirt.  Some nights when it really warm I would wear a tank top.  TLE wore shorts and t-shirts too, but she chose to wear underwear.  We usually wore heavy jackets, gloves and watch caps to work, and were usually colder walking to work than going home.  We were so hot from 10-12 hours of walking that the cold air, sometimes in the low 20's, was quite refreshing.

The hardest thing to prepare for, which I did not anticipate...... and I am not speaking for TLE here.....was the incredible, mind numbing boredom I fought through every single night, until the last couple of weeks.  Boredom makes the time go by so slowly.  The only way I could get through the night was to be short sighted.  By that I mean I broke the "work day" into parts.....the first part was the 5:30 pm to 8 pm stretch before our first 15 minute break.  The next was the two hour stretch from 8:15 to 10:15 when we had our 30 minute "lunch".  The hardest stretch of the night was the 3 hour one right after "lunch" from 10:45 pm to 1:45 am.  The last 2 hour stretch on our 10 hour shift from 2 am to 4 am went pretty fast usually.  When we went to our 12 hour shift (11.5 hours of work with a 30 minute lunch) we had one more 10 minute break at 4 am, which made the last stretch 1 hour and 20 minutes.....but really I would drop my last tote off at 5:20 am, and reach the last time clock at exactly 5:28 am to punch was legal to clock out from 5:28 am to 5:35 am....any earlier, or later and you were in trouble.....we never had an issue with that.  So the last 1.5 hours was really only 1 hour and 10 minutes of actual work.  Anyway, my point is by breaking the shift down into these time blocks, and only focusing on the next break, helped me stay sane.  I really tried not think too often about how many hours left in a shift, or how many days were left on our contract, because it just seemed too overwhelming.

The friendships we formed during our stay, which I have written extensively about in the blog, were a blessing, and helped us cope.  Without Jim, Jacque, Mike, Lizzie, Jim, Sharon, Richard and Pat our experience would have been much more difficult.  In addition to our workamper friends we made friends with several full time employees (Kim, Sharon, another Kim, and Jan).  

We were treated well by those we worked under, and never felt oppressed, or taken advantage of.  Safety was taught, and encouraged at every turn.  We were led in stretching exercises twice per shift, and encouraged to stop whenever necessary to do more stretching if it was needed.  If we preferred to work in one part of the building more than another we were accommodated without hesitation.  Being able to spend part of each week working in HRV (High Retail Value) was wonderful.....working up on the fourth floor of the PIC MOD "C" made time go fast, because we did more than just pick....we would pick for an hour, then pack for an hour, then help resupply the stations, dump trash cans, etc.  Our duties were varied and that is what made the time fly up there.  Amazon encourages you to cross train for other departments, even if you are a workamper.  There are other departments like TRANSHIP that I would also try to get cross training in just for the change of pace, and the variety. 

Okay, now for the $64,000 question.....would we do it again?  Right now I would say possibly, but we would only do it for the last 4 weeks of  "Peak Season", and not for 10, or 11 weeks again.....that was just too long a commitment.  And it would not be this year. Would we go to Campbellsville, KY again? Yes, if we did Amazon again we would prefer Campbellsville, KY to the other two options for workampers (Coffeyville, Kansas or Fernley, Nevada).

We grossed around $10,000, and netted just over $8,000....$8,000 in our pockets was our goal, and we achieved it.  We will be visiting 6 of the Camperforce friends we made over the next two weeks after we leave Cedar Key on our way down to Key West.  The bottom line is we feel richer for the experience, and blessed for the new friends we made.

There are other workamper opportunities we are investigating, and I will write more about them when we begin to zero in on one.

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Clark do you know where you guy's are going after going down there for the last 15 yrs the KOA at MM 20 is about the best. And Mangrove Mama's is just across the Hwy 1.

    1. We snagged a site for 5 days on Marathon Key at a Passport American park by the name of Jolly Roger Travel Park....some friends have stayed there. Where are these two places you refer to?

  2. Both are at mile marker 20 on US1 just past the Sugarloaf Key bridge.
    Mangrove Mama's Restaurant
    Mile Marker 20
    Sugarloaf Key, FL


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.