It’s not as if you don’t realize the fact that the fortune is deliberately prevented from flowing back toward the employees; you simply don’t understand it, and of course it can’t be understood. “You spend 10 hours on foot, there’s no windows in the place, and you’re not allowed to talk to people — there’s no interactions allowed,” former Amazon warehouse employee Seth King told Vox last summer. “I got a sense in no time at all that they work people to death, or until they get too tired to keep working.
My tour included a grandmother escorting two girls and one boy between the ages of about 6 and 10, one older man who was alone, seven businessmen who later told me they run the third-party Amazon fulfillment business Paragon Trading Post (and also told me, unprompted, that they made $5 million last year), and me — identified quickly as a reporter by my tour guide, who suggested that the tour was off the record, though it was not, but I’m going to refrain from directly quoting anything he said out of respect for this clear confusion.
It’s with all this looming large in the public mind that this year, Amazon started offering tours twice a day at 46 of more than 250 sites worldwide. (Previously they were offered only a few times a month at five sites. ) Anybody can sign up online, as I did, without signing a nondisclosure agreement or promising to keep what they see to themselves. “Come see the magic,” the website suggests. “Tour one of our fulfillment centers and see first-hand how we deliver to you. ” There is, this suggests, nothing to hide.
It’s mandatory overtime, the hours are not voluntary, and they are all on your feet. ” In March, a Staten Island warehouse employee was fired for a minor safety violation and filed a lawsuit against Amazon, claiming that his real infraction was attempting to lead a unionization effort the month prior. “Tour one of our fulfillment centers and see first-hand how we deliver to you. ” There is, this suggests, nothing to hide.
This is probably partly for legal reasons, but mainly to give her space to make the story feel more universal, as much of it is written in the second person. “You,” the reader, are the one being scolded by your manager for pausing to read the back of a book you’re supposed to be passing from box to box. “You don’t quite understand how a fortune could be made out of these things on either side of you and out of books and data carriers and a program and a website, a fortune that’s still growing,” Geissler writes in Seasonal Associate. “Nor do you understand why that fortune is not allowed to have a reverse effect on the hall, to add a little comfort or shine.