Bias for Action
December 3, 2013 11:55 AM   Subscribe

I am working at the new Amazon fulfillment center in Haslet, Texas as a seasonal, part-time picker.  It is winter. We aren’t workers here: we are associates. It is a job that I can do hung-over and high and I can make just enough money here to technically have my own apartment, a place to store all my empty beer cans and all my crumpled Taco Cabana wrappers and all my stacks of shitty sci-fi novels. - Fulfillment
posted by Artw (87 comments total) 97 users marked this as a favorite

 
Amazon is constantly finding ways to automate so maybe in 10 or 20 years they won't be hiring anyone at all (who isn't a robot master).
posted by stbalbach at 12:00 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, this is fiction, right?
posted by Outlawyr at 12:05 PM on December 3, 2013


Taco Cabana! And MEOW MIXXXER. I almost believe it. I almost believe it all.

> Former warehouse droner, though not for Amazon.
posted by tilde at 12:05 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Jeff Bezos is totally building that spaceport.
posted by Artw at 12:06 PM on December 3, 2013


You really have to love the entitlement. And then, one day, he drank so much alcohol that he woke up only to find that he had turned into Doctor Manhattan.

Who will fulfill the fulfillers?
posted by phaedon at 12:10 PM on December 3, 2013


maybe in 10 or 20 years they won't be hiring anyone at all

If the middle class continues being systematically dismantled in this country, they won't have any customers anyhow.
posted by Celsius1414 at 12:11 PM on December 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


That was great.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:12 PM on December 3, 2013


Terrific little short story.
posted by Edgewise at 12:14 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well that is a thing that I just read.
posted by teh_boy at 12:16 PM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Basically, the job is shopping at Wal-Mart for people who are too embarrassed to actually shop at Wal-Mart.

Dammit. I can never unsee that.
posted by gwint at 12:17 PM on December 3, 2013 [24 favorites]


two fifteen minute breaks during our ten hour shifts

One break every 3.5 hours? I wonder if Jeff Bezos can last that long between pee breaks consistently.
posted by crapmatic at 12:18 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


There are some choice quotes in there, so please forgive me

Metafilter: Immortal faggot vampires gonna be running the show from here on out

Metafilter: They can smell food in three dimensions and are extremely adaptable.
posted by exogenous at 12:18 PM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


oh how i miss taco cabana...
posted by nadawi at 12:21 PM on December 3, 2013


Somebody is channeling his inner Hunter S. Thompson...
posted by killdevil at 12:21 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I am so sad that that book doesn't exist.
posted by joannemerriam at 12:22 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Jeff Bezos's wife Mackenzie Bezos is a novelist!?
posted by larrybob at 12:24 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dang, artw, where do you find this stuff? Don't say 'Amazon' or I'll smite you.
posted by Mister_A at 12:25 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


An Amazon employee was involved, actually.
posted by Artw at 12:26 PM on December 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


I remember when I thought I was special because I had a dead end job, drank too much, and had meaningless sex with women who probably didn't like me.

He is not fired for making this joke.
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 12:28 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Can't tell if satire or...
posted by Joe Chip at 12:31 PM on December 3, 2013


Amazon is constantly finding ways to automate so maybe in 10 or 20 years they won't be hiring anyone at all (who isn't a robot master).

By that time Amazon, or companies like them, will have successfully 'disrupted' pretty much every form of employment and replaced everybody with robots or unpaid interns or just shipped the jobs to the third world. However the robots and outsourced workers will be standing idle, because without any jobs, no one will have enough money to buy stuff.

We have a front row seat in the latest installment of Stupid Things People In the Past Did. Although for us, it's Stupid Things People Are Doing Right Now.
posted by Grangousier at 12:32 PM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'll give you a pass, artw.

**stows smiting implements**
posted by Mister_A at 12:40 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Always shit downbelt. Always.
posted by bondcliff at 12:41 PM on December 3, 2013 [13 favorites]


Y'all. It's a contraction of you all. Not ya'll. Y'all.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:42 PM on December 3, 2013 [26 favorites]


If the middle class continues being systematically dismantled in this country, they won't have any customers anyhow.

Since China's and India's middle classes are growing, we'll then be primed to take back all our manufacturing jobs.
posted by FJT at 12:43 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


There is a guy sitting next to me with lots of tattoos of Looney Tunes cartoon characters. During the video, he says pretty loudly that Jeff Bezos “looks like a guy who shaves all of his body hair and likes to have his dick locked up in a little dick cage while truck drivers from Craigslist take turns fucking his wife.”

Lots of the other temporary associates laugh at this joke.

He is not fired for making this joke.


That will crack me up for the next month.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 12:46 PM on December 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


China and India will never take our break-dancing jobs though! NEVER!
posted by Mister_A at 12:46 PM on December 3, 2013


That was surprisingly entertaining. Very fun.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:54 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


One thing I like about this is his relationship with Kathy Jane. He's drawn to her, maybe against his will - and she's happy for the company, but afraid of whatever he might want next. It's the most realistic part of the story. And her dream of running a coffee shop with a book machine in it is pretty sweet.
posted by Kevin Street at 12:55 PM on December 3, 2013


It's good this story was written, or at least I'm glad I read this story. There was a post a while back about the writer - basically just a link to his blog (?). Glad he's still at it.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:56 PM on December 3, 2013


Love the man, but that is actually exactly what Jeff Bezos looks like.
posted by phaedon at 1:04 PM on December 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


There's a great strain of Brautigan-style observation and whimsy running through this that I really, really like. Thanks for posting it.
posted by Shepherd at 1:11 PM on December 3, 2013


Somebody is channeling his inner Hunter S. Thompson...

The inclusion of details like the similar SKUs being in different parts of the warehouse makes me think more of Chuck Palahniuk.
posted by Artw at 1:12 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Somebody is channeling his inner Hunter S. Thompson...

The inclusion of details like the similar SKUs being in different parts of the warehouse makes me think more of Chuck Palahniuk.
posted by Artw"

Exactly what I was gonna say…it felt like if Chuck and Douglas Coupland got together and wrote 1984.
posted by ShawnString at 1:18 PM on December 3, 2013


5 stars, would read again.
posted by kprincehouse at 1:18 PM on December 3, 2013


He is not fired for making this joke.

Understandable. I mean...c'mon...Bezos does look like that kind of guy...
posted by Thorzdad at 1:19 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


“Round about Christmas, if ya’ll learn what the hell ya’ll are doing, you are gonna hear screaming all over the place around here."

omg
posted by edeezy at 1:24 PM on December 3, 2013


I think I fell in love with Kathy Jane. Damn them for robotting her!
posted by Devils Rancher at 1:27 PM on December 3, 2013


HOW GOOD IS THIS?

*squats*

It it very good. Thank you.
posted by anotherpanacea at 1:32 PM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


For a moment I thought this was yet another seasonal Amazon-mistreats-its-order-pickers MASSIVE EXPOSE'
posted by mrbill at 1:34 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


My dad was a Green Beret and he had this joke he heard in the army that he'd use on me whenever he thought I was over-thinking something. "Do something, Goddamit! Even if it's wrong. Do SOMETHING!" I think he was also referring to a Bias for Action, or more specifically my beanplateing lack of said bias.
posted by Toekneesan at 1:35 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Y'all. It's a contraction of you all. Not ya'll. Y'all.

...yeah but if ya pronounce yer singular pronoun like a proper southerner, and ya spell it like ya pronounce it, then yer plural version is ya all — which could contract to ya'll just fine.

posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 1:36 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


[When Kurt Vonnegut tells his wife he's going out to buy an envelope] Oh, she says, well, you're not a poor man. You know, why don't you go online and buy a hundred envelopes and put them in the closet? And so I pretend not to hear her. And go out to get an envelope because I'm going to have a hell of a good time in the process of buying one envelope. I meet a lot of people. And, see some great looking babes. And a fire engine goes by. And I give them the thumbs up. And, and ask a woman what kind of dog that is. And, and I don't know. The moral of the story is, is we're here on Earth to fart around. And, of course, the computers will do us out of that. And, what the computer people don't realize, or they don't care, is we're dancing animals. You know, we love to move around. And, we're not supposed to dance at all anymore.
posted by any major dude at 1:38 PM on December 3, 2013 [45 favorites]


The author of the story, Miracle Jones, has a SmashWords page with his free novels and short story collections. It's pretty much all this awesome and demented.
posted by zjacreman at 1:40 PM on December 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


Robot pickers are not able to transform their suffering into art for my entertainment. Without this misery the writer would never have been able to imagine such entertainment. Are we not entertained?
posted by humanfont at 1:52 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


this. is. sublime.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 2:03 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I know in my heart that Kathy Jane exists and she is watching over us.
posted by Ber at 2:18 PM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Did anyone else search Amazon for Meow Mixxxer?
posted by Kevin Street at 2:23 PM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


omg this is so great! Who is this guy? Why haven't I heard of him? What's going on?
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:29 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I hope that guy celebrates with a whopper and a forty.
posted by jquinby at 2:33 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I pegged it as fiction when Spivey said ""Where ya’ll from?” he asks. “Fellow like you.”"

No true Texan would ever refer to a single person as "y'all." (No, I won't type it like it's written above, because that's just wrong.)
posted by mudpuppie at 2:50 PM on December 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


It is weird, like working construction. Only we aren’t building anything. We are just making sure that when people buy a box of soap or a DVD about how it is bad to keep whales in captivity they get it AS SOON AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE AND DAMN ALL THE CONSEQUENCES OF THIS.

This just reeks of a weird arrogance to me. Like, ye gods, the horror of a person like you doing manual labor that doesn't even give you Macho Points. Building houses, "fixing an oily carburetor with your bare hands" = good; shipping = bad. Glad we got that straightened out.

Exploitative labor conditions are exploitative labor conditions, obviously. But this guy seems to just be throwing those things in to add a dollop of extra disapproval to his main thesis, which is the horror of having to spend your workday doing something boring that does not give you Fulfillment, as the story is so hintingly titled. The awfulness of getting two fifteen-minute breaks per ten-hour shift and getting fired for getting sick without notice, and even the awfulness of having mind-controlly supervisors who expect you to howl with delight as you work, are completely different from the unpleasantness of having a job that requires a lot of boring walking around, and this story seems to have been written for the purpose of conflating the two. Also to demonstrate the characters' naiveté and isolation in a mechanized world by making them talk and think entirely without contractions.

(Also, am I reading correctly that "We are told that we can wear headphones and listen to whatever we want while we pick; as long as it is at an appropriate volume and does not disturb others" is being deployed as a symbol of The Man keeping down our narrator's Special Individuality? Get over yourself, dude.)
posted by ostro at 2:50 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm considering using office equipment to print and bind my own personal copy, but I'm not sure I want to look for appropriate cover art at work.
posted by asperity at 2:55 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is so good that the author should make a movie out of this. And replace A Christmas Story with that movie.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:00 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I read this to avoid work at my corporate Amazon job.
posted by azarbayejani at 3:04 PM on December 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


Get over yourself, dude.

Bro, you've read it all wrong bro.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:07 PM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Did anyone else search Amazon for Meow Mixxxer?


Did anyone not?
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:09 PM on December 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


Loved it! I'm going to save all my screams for later too!
posted by greenhornet at 3:23 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


What a great little story. I went with Coupland and Bukowski but whatever. It was a good read.
posted by merocet at 3:26 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


humanfont: Robot pickers are not able to transform their suffering into art for my entertainment. Without this misery the writer would never have been able to imagine such entertainment. Are we not entertained?

Protip: those Kiva bots will pump out ropy rage shits if you input the Konami code.
posted by dr_dank at 3:53 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Has anybody ordered a Mackenzie Bezos novel?
posted by Artw at 4:02 PM on December 3, 2013


I tried the Konami code, but none if them snuck out back to get high, came in hung over or got caught making out in the break room. This far their literary output consists of short snippets of Twilight slash fic. Boring
posted by humanfont at 4:37 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I May Not Harm Jeff Bezos
posted by homunculus at 5:24 PM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


/a drone arrives for artw.

UGH! SILVERFISH!
posted by Artw at 5:27 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


An Amazon employee was involved, actually.

Just an employee or the actual Amazon?
posted by homunculus at 5:37 PM on December 3, 2013


The best part about this amazing story is that is restored my faith in Metafilter for mostly not missing the point. Anyway, hooray!!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:41 PM on December 3, 2013


(NSFW) I like you, Miracle Jones.
posted by louche mustachio at 6:39 PM on December 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


Metafilter: "Immortal faggot vampires gonna be running the show from here on out.”
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:41 PM on December 3, 2013


I guess it says something about my that I'm much more okay with the idea of someone shitting on a conveyor belt, hell, even porn about cats, than I am about the idea of a jar full of live silverfish.

Gah. I hate those fuckers.

DRNKR sounds so horribly plausible, though.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:03 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


two fifteen minute breaks during our ten hour shifts

Lucky bastard.

At my perma-temp job, I nearly got fired because I scheduled a doctor's appointment. It was "suggested" that if I want to keep my job, I should give up my two 15 minute breaks until I "bought back" the two hours I stole from the company by leaving two hours early to keep the appointment. This means no breaks from Monday morning until Friday afternoon.

Monday morning, overtime was announced. It was "suggested" that employees should sign up for overtime if they want to survive the first round of layoffs next week, and the second round just before xmas. Veiled threats were issued that the layoffs could be effective immediately for anyone who didn't sign up. I always sign up for every hour of overtime. I had a bright idea, I spoke to my supervisor and asked if I could buy back my two hours with overtime instead of sacrificing my breaks. I could make it back to a full 40 hour work week, and then some. He said ask the manager.

The manager asked me why I wanted to do that. I said it's exhausting to work with no breaks. He said he needed to keep up the production rate. Request denied.

I am currently working from 8AM until 7PM every day, with nothing but a 30 minute lunch break. Today I went to my doctor's appointment (surprisingly, my blood pressure is normal). I left at 3PM and was scheduled to return at 5PM and work until 7. I got back late, at 5:15. I presume I will have to buy back those 15 minutes too, but I am afraid to ask. That would mean I lose my Friday PM break to, so that's an entire work week of no breaks and 11 hour days. But fortunately, I was given permission to take restroom breaks, only as infrequently as possible and limited to "just two or three minutes."

Today, as usual our Math team members were gossiping with each other, asking if they had heard anything about returning to our regular Math jobs. It was scheduled to start October 1, but was delayed until at least January 6, so the company "generously" offered these temporary jobs on the loading dock or data entry, to make good on their employment commitment (albeit at $9.25/hour instead of our regular $12 wage). Half our old Math team has been laid off already, they were working on the loading dock. One woman on our data entry team quit today, she's sick of it. She has only been working there for about 3 weeks. I've been putting up with this shit for 9 weeks. There is no news, we still do not know if we will have a job next week here, or next month over there on the Math team.

And now a musical interlude.

If We Make It Through December by Merle Haggard.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:48 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


...yeah but if ya pronounce yer singular pronoun like a proper southerner, and ya spell it like ya pronounce it, then yer plural version is ya all — which could contract to ya'll just fine.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______.


Plural y'all is all y'all.
posted by HMSSM at 10:30 PM on December 3, 2013


Plural y'all is all y'all.

While this is the case from the area of Arkansas my mom's family comes from I would imagine it to be completely regionally variable.
posted by edeezy at 12:15 AM on December 4, 2013


while it comes out as all'y'all, i've found it to actually be more like all'a'y'a'll, we just muddy the vowels, at least from my area of arkansas.
posted by nadawi at 5:55 AM on December 4, 2013


anotherpanacea: "Metafilter: "Immortal faggot vampires gonna be running the show from here on out.”"

Listen, unless you read the other comments before submitting yours, you simply cannot expect to become one of the immortal faggot vampires. That's just the way it works around here.
posted by exogenous at 7:24 AM on December 4, 2013


Wow, charlie don't surf :| Depressingly familiar. Good luck on making it through.

MetaFilter: Don't shit your day job. But if you do, tell us the story.
posted by tilde at 7:24 AM on December 4, 2013


It actually makes for a pretty good prequel to Elysium.
posted by Artw at 7:49 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Metafilter - It's a contraction of you all.
posted by ambivalentic at 8:48 AM on December 4, 2013


Wow, charlie don't surf :| Depressingly familiar. Good luck on making it through.

About an hour ago, I was laid off effective Friday at 5PM.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:26 AM on December 4, 2013


Damnit, I'm sorry.
posted by tilde at 10:35 AM on December 4, 2013


Plural y'all is all y'all.

And the possessive form of the plural "all y'all" is "all y'all's," as in "Did y'all get all y'all's Christmas shopping done?"
posted by mudpuppie at 11:16 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


About an hour ago, I was laid off effective Friday at 5PM.
posted by charlie don't surf at 1:26 PM on December 4 [+] [!]


Do they have a conveyor belt?
posted by Toekneesan at 4:17 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm so sorry Charlie Don't Surf. I hate this economy. I hope your next gig comes soon and is better.
posted by Salamandrous at 7:14 AM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Today was a long day, my penultimate day. I came home and wrote another 2500 words, making the day even longer. I decided to delete it all. Instead, I will just express my thanks to MeFites for their support. It means a lot to me.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:39 PM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sorry to hear about that, charlie don't surf. Stay strong.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:00 PM on December 5, 2013


MONSTER PORN: Amazon's Crackdown On America's Latest Sex Fantasy
posted by Artw at 6:41 PM on December 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


If only I'd heard about this genre a year ago. At least $6000 a month for a 12000 word novella!
posted by Kevin Street at 2:31 AM on December 28, 2013


Gone the way of Meow Mixxxer...
posted by Artw at 6:14 AM on December 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


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