This is my last week at Amazon, woohoo! Friday night we’re working half a day (the other half we’re taking as our paid time off – a new perk for CamperForce this year), and then we have a couple days to get Cas ready, and then it’s south on the next new and exciting adventure, I can’t wait.
I know I haven’t written much about my Amazon experience this year, it seemed pointless to write in detail about Fernley since the site will be closed before peak next year. I will say this: overtime was a lot more plentiful. We started working the 5th day on our second full week at the end of October, and working an extra hour became an option the first week in November. This was the first week we haven’t worked five days since October, and it felt nice.
The paychecks have been nice too. I’ve earned more than expected (I’d based my estimates from work hours at Coffeyville), which feels good with several months without pay coming up.
Oh, and I finally got a taste of the outbound side. I spent about an hour and a half in the Gift Wrap department one night (after an hour of training on it) when there wasn’t enough stow work.
Gift wrapping was interesting to learn, but I don’t think I’d want to do it for a whole season. You have a station to stand at, and gifts that need to be wrapped come in on a conveyer. At your station you have a scissors, pencil, tape, and ribbon. When the gifts come down the conveyer, they’re already set inside the box they’ll be shipped in along with other gifts going to the same place that may or may not need wrapping, and inside that box is also the size box or wrapping paper you need (there are six sizes of boxes, eight (I think?) sizes of wrapping paper pre-cut into rectangles), the gift tag and shipping receipt are also in there.
What you do is confirm which item(s) need to be wrapped, that the item matches the description on the shipping receipt, and that the gift tag text matches the text given on the shipping receipt. Then, one at a time if you have multiple gifts to wrap in one shipment, you wrap or box them. Boxes are for items that don’t have six flat sides. They come flat and need to be put together. If the item doesn’t fit snugly in the box, then you should also have tissue paper to put in with it to keep it from rattling around. Once the item is in the box, you wrap the box around the center on the thinnest side with ribbon, and where the ends of the ribbon meet in the center you stick the gift tag on to hide it. Then you put the boxed item back in the big box it came in on and move on to the next one until all gifts in that shipment are done. At the end, you put the shipping receipt inside an envelope so that the gift recipient doesn’t immediately know what they got, and that envelope goes inside the big box. Then the big box goes on a different conveyer, and off to be sealed shut and shipped.
Wrapping works similar to the gift boxes, it’s for items that have six flat sides. The size wrapping paper you need should be inside the big box same as for gift boxes. I’m not going to try to explain to you the precise and exact protocol that Amazon has written up for wrapping gifts, but they do go over it with you in training so that you know what you’re doing when you get out on the floor, and they’ll expect you to goof it up a few times early on. Other than that the process is the same – ribbon centered around the narrowest side after wrapping, followed by the gift tag.
Gift wrapping is not always a smooth process. Sometimes the paper or box they give you doesn’t fit, sometimes the item is wrong or the gift tag doesn’t say what it should. There are problem solvers in gift wrapping just like all of the other jobs, and that’s who you take these issues to. Other than that, this seemed like the most “Christmas-y” job I’ve worked at Amazon, and it was a nice break from stowing.
And lastly, I do have a little bit more information about what CamperForce should look like next year. With Fernley and Coffeyville closing down, that only left Campbellsville, KY and Murfeesboro, TN as sure locations for RVers to work. A couple weeks ago, the head of the CamperForce program Pamela came in from Seattle to talk to all of us about it.
She said there’s “about a 90% chance” that there will be one new location in Indiana next year (it’s the place several people from Campbellsville were offered a bonus to transfer to this year), and one new location in Texas, which would be great news for folks who like a warmer climate in the winter.
There’s also talk about two places in California that might take RVers next peak, which would be good for those who want to stay in the western part of the country, but those are less certain.
Registration for next year’s CamperForce starts mid-January, and Pamela figured that by then the Indiana and Texas locations would be nailed down. Stay tuned, as soon as the word is officially out I’ll be writing more about it here.
* * *
But wait, where are Julie and I headed after Amazon? Well, that’s still somewhat dependent on the weather.
As I’ve mentioned before, Julie has relatives near Los Angeles, and they have a RV pad we could park on for a visit. I’ve never been to the Pacific coast, so that would be a real treat.
The trick is, we have to make it over the Sierras. Donner Pass is the most direct way there and if it’s snowing in the mountains when we’re released I don’t want to try it (I think if the three of us get stuck in the pass, poor Chance would be the first to go – he has no teeth after all to defend himself). Otherwise we could try heading down 395 and cut across further south, but I’m not sure how much better that would be if the weather’s poor. As of this writing, it looks like there’s going to be snow on Friday, but then after that will be several warmer clear days. If we leave on Monday chances look pretty good.
The other possibility is to head to Quartzsite, which isn’t a bad alternative. I’ve wanted to see Quartzsite in the winter since I was still in the planning stages of full-timing. I know I’ll make it there some year, and this might be the year.
The thing here is, true boondocking won’t be an option yet as I still need to get my water heater replaced, and don’t have a propane heat source in the RV. We’ll be paying to stay in a park or campground, and I’d almost rather wait to do Quartzsite until I can do it right – parked out in the desert.
Whichever it turns out to be though, I’m sure we’ll have a good time. We’ll have a couple weeks for one of those options, and then it’s probably off to Texas to volunteer, more on that coming up. On the road again, oh I just can’t wait to get on the road again…
Image courtesy of ChiefRanger
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