Sometimes, when I’m two tumblers of wine in (I haven’t unpacked my wine glasses yet), and the only thing on television is a Jonas brother, and my Sally Hanson Nail Effects Manicure is chipped, and the page in front of me is blank, and I don’t have anything to write about, I default to my favorite blog topic — “what horrible thing has Amazon done lately?”
Luckily for all of us, someone has done a better a job than I ever could with a “Amazon, horrible” piece this week. Since last Christmas, Mac McClelland from Mother Jones has been following the story of abhorrent conditions in the fulfillment warehouses that most major online retailers use (including Amazon).
To deepen the investigation, McClelland’s Mother Jones editors sent her out to do some muckraking (I will use that word whenever appropriate, forever). McClelland got a job at one of the fulfillment warehouses, and worked for a few days until she was a totally broken human being. The resulting article, “I Was A Warehouse Wage Slave,” is an impeccably written and stunning piece of first-person journalism:
“The place is immense. Cold, cavernous. Silent, despite thousands of people quietly doing their picking, or standing along the conveyors quietly packing or box-taping, nothing noisy but the occasional whir of a passing forklift. My scanner tells me in what exact section—there are nine merchandise sections, so sprawling that there’s a map attached to my ID badge—of vast shelving systems the item I’m supposed to find resides. It also tells me how many seconds it thinks I should take to get there. Dallas sector, section yellow, row H34, bin 22, level D: wearable blanket. Battery-operated flour sifter. Twenty seconds. I count how many steps it takes me to speed-walk to my destination: 20. At 5-foot-9, I’ve got a decently long stride, and I only cover the 20 steps and locate the exact shelving unit in the allotted time if I don’t hesitate for one second or get lost or take a drink of water before heading in the right direction as fast as I can walk or even occasionally jog. Olive-oil mister. Male libido enhancement pills. Rifle strap. Who the fuck buys their paper towels off the internet? Fairy calendar. Neoprene lunch bag. Often as not, I miss my time target.”
While you are at it, check out McClelland’s original Christmastime piece. And, also, this is a little awkward, but if you ever see McClelland at a party or anything, could you slip her my number?