I worked at Amazon for two months
I have a feeling that the following ramble may be relatable to some people, in general. Owning too much stuff was something that I knew and realized, but it was not until I worked here and it became experienced and overwhelming and it clicked within and felt like a new teaching of sorts (even though I already subconsciously knew it), that I was reminded of this. Overall, working at Amazon has its pros and cons just like every other job, so no bad-mouthing will ensue (maybe. no guarantees). ‘Tis the season.
Walking into an Amazon Fulfillment Center for the first time can set off two trains of thought. (1) This is magical because this is where everything I buy lives and now I get to be a part of its process. (2) This is my personal hell and I cannot believe this is where my life has led me. The latter was more suitable for my thoughts, but I did think it was fine at first (one may be a little nuts if the former was their first thought). I have never opposed the warehouse environment, it was simply the idea of working for Big Boss Bezos that I was opposed to and what ultimately killed my spirit. But student debt was creeping up and any place I desired to work did not want me due to lack of experience. Education, check. Experience, you’re out. So it goes. Here, no experience is needed, no interview is given, and only a simple test is to be taken to prove your human-ness, and if you are just human enough for them, you’re hired. This I was thankful for. Guaranteed employment.
But working in a warehouse filled to the brim with products is a bit overwhelming. Somebody bought something and it ended up here with the middle man. It was not until I began employment, though, that I discovered Amazon had started producing their own products with a brand called AmazonBasics (the lesser rival to Costco’s Kirkland). After some research, I found out this brand has been around since 2009. Where the heck have I been to never have heard of it? So, Amazon is now more than just a middle man. They have yet again stepped up their game and are one step closer to ruling the world (with physical stores beginning to pop up more and more over recent years, the film Idiocracy nailed the future. Just switch out Costco for Amazon). They have a brand with “basic” in the name, telling the customer that this is a basic need, perhaps an everyday product. Every time I touched one of these basic products at the warehouse, I took a second to think if it was truly a need. And after doing this for two months, my biggest take-a-way was: I have too much stuff.
Everyone knows we live in a consumer world and Amazon makes buying products more accessible and effortless and even addictive in a way. Amazon is the equivalent of all the products surrounding a check-out line at the store — the impulse buys, the stuff no one knew they wanted, nay, needed until they saw it. It’s always useless and terrible-for-you stuff, too — chips, candy, soda, tabloids (although, these can be pretty entertaining). One can buy anything at the drop of hat, as long as they have internet, all the while never having to step foot outside the comfort of their home. But this is our world now. Buying the unnecessary. Living beyond our means. Some will go into debt to get what they want, thinking it is a need-to-buy product to give themselves a comfortable life. But you already know this.
I think we buy to feel better about ourselves. Not sure how that works or why that is or if I’m even close to the real reason, but maybe (I need to do more research on this phenomenon). But clicking on the buy now button is a hit of dopamine, similar to getting a “like” on social media. People buy the most peculiar stuff, too. Having had the position of a picker, I cannot recall how many sex toys, new phones and tablets, charging cables for said new phones and tablets, gaming systems, etc., I touched, but trust me when I say that humans are trying to create good times for themselves and make the most of this oh-so-close-to-ending-but-just-kidding-there-is-a-new-variant pandemic. But these all endorse dopamine hits. And it all starts with that buy now button. That button can create an array of emotions: hope, anticipation, encouragement, joy. But these emotions dwindle minutes after purchasing, and after a new thought or new venture has begun, time continues to pass and the anticipation is small, and once it finally arrives, the dopamine has spent.
I understand the desire to buy something you want. When I go to a bookstore, I always want a new book even though I have plenty at home that have yet to be read and I walked in with no specific book need in mind. I have to tell myself no, you don’t need another book. And then I ask myself why did you even come to this shop then? So then it becomes window shopping and when a salesperson asks if I need help finding anything, I have to say no, thank you. I’m just browsing, discreetly making mental notes of books I want in the future and my willpower may not be as strong the next time. And then I wonder why do I need willpower to not buy something? It is not a need, it is a want. If I do not need it, then why bother? Because it’s nice. It feels good. And even though a new book would go home with me and be an addition to my leaning stack of unread books, it is the knowing I now have it whenever I am ready to read it. This could be tomorrow, next week, next year, or in five years.
I’ve tried getting rid of some of these books before and was, thankfully, unsuccessful. I was, however, successful in getting rid of random clothes and such, but looking around our home and focusing on each item individually, asking myself if it is a need or a want, has become therapeutic. If nothing gets tossed, the acknowledgment and awareness of each item are enough for me right now. Christmas is upon us and this means unnecessary items will be welcomed into the household and the process of acknowledgment will begin again.
Thank you, Amazon, for an unforgettable two months during peak season. And bless you to those that work there. Thank you.
Since it’s Christmas time, this may have been bad timing to release these thoughts and ramblings on having too much stuff, or not. I don’t know. But thank you for reading. Happy Holidays.