Christmas 2014: Greetings from Gulfport Mississippi
I'd forgotten how much fun Mississippi is to spell. Kinda like banana. We were happy to leave Louisville (Loo-vul) on the 21st and even happier to work our last day at the enormous fulfillment center Amazon has across the river in Jeffersonville, Indiana. We were Amazon minions for about eight weeks to help out with all the extra online shopping this time of year. You're welcome. The work can be hard, but we look at it as a combined job/fitness program that pays you to get fit. Our job was to find the items being ordered and put them in totes for packing and shipping. Amazon scores you on how well you do by tracking your pick rate in items per hour. You also get a quality score for not screwing up your picks but it's basically how fast you can put stuff in your tote.
Finding anything would be a hopeless task if it weren't for your handheld scanner that tells you where other minions have hidden it. The game is played on a three dimensional grid of four floors. There are varying degrees of difficulty with opportunities to both advance your pick rate or destroy it, depending on random chance and various traps set by the stowers, the people whose job it is to hide the stuff you're trying to find. Like Chutes and Ladders, the board game that children of a certain age love to play. A Ladder can be a multiple pick or an obvious pick. Chutes send your pick rate plummeting by requiring you to unpack a bin or drawer to get to an item in the back (and then repacking it), or placing little items on top of larger ones such that you have to use your Jenga skills to get the one you want. One my favorites is a missing item that requires you to scan everything in the bin to prove to the computer that the item it sent you to find is really not there. If your pick rate falls low enough, the pick police find you (the computer shamelessly rats you out). But if you don't hit too many chutes and maybe find a few ladders, you could qualify for gift cards or at least the admiration of your peers. Not sure about that last part, but I've met the pick police. I've seen some fiendish traps, including drawers that were locked shut by their contents, small items hidden among larger ones or identical looking items that differ in subtle ways and you have to find the odd one in a large group.
So we've been camped out next to the Louisville airport since Thanksgiving, and by next to I mean the planes on final approach are so close you can count the number of wheels they have as they fly over your site. On the 21st, we scraped the frost off the truck's windows and made a sprint south to Gulfport Mississippi where it is much warmer.
So Merry Christmas y'all. We're doing fine and hope you all are too. Best wishes for the new year.
John and Janie