Thursday, January 20, 2005

Everybody's Working in the Warehouse

I work in an office. When I first accepted my new job, I was told that I'd have to work in the warehouse for two weeks upon starting. They explained that it was company policy, that it gave all employees a basic knowledge of how things work, andd that the main purpose was for everyone to learn the ropes because everyone, even the office folk, are required to work in the warehouse when it gets really busy out there.

With this knowledge in mind, I showed up for my first day of work ready to work in the warehouse. Silly me.

Instead of starting off in the warehouse for two weeks, I was taken immediately to the Marketing department. They were under a deadline and really needed a proofreader, so I was told that I'd have to put in my time in the warehouse at a later date.

That later date finally rolled around last week. That Monday was the deadline for our February catalogs, and my part in putting them together was done. I was told before I left on Friday to report to the warehouse on Monday. I wish I could have worked out there right away upon starting, because by this point I've been there long enough to have developed a routine and to feel irritated about being put out of it. Still, I knew it was something I had to do.

The very first thing I had to do was pull orders. This is about as complicated as it sounds, which is not very. Basically, you pick up an invoice, pull all the videotapes and DVDs that are listed upon it, put said movies into a box, and deposit said box in the shipping area. That's it. The third invoice I happened to pick up was for the Troy-Miami County Public Library in Troy, Ohio, which is my hometown. Not a big deal, but I thought it was pretty cool.

Later that day, after all orders had been pulled, I somehow got sucked into a group (myself and two others) assigned to rearrange all the shelves in the warehouse. This turned into an interesting experience. The warehouse managed didn't fully explain what he wanted us to accomplish, so we had to work it out on my own. We were just flailing around and moving movies almost at random, and it was driving me crazy, so I went against my general nature and took charge. I looked at all the shelves and figured out how things needed to be distributed, then made out a plan for it. I then just told the guys where stuff needed to be, and we moved everything as needed. It took the remainder of Monday and most of Tuesday, but it got done. I later heard through the grapevine that the warehouse manager said we did a "fantastic" job, so that was pretty cool.

Over the course of the rest of the week, I sampled almost every task in the warehouse. I did shelving, inventory, shipping, processing, and a lot of pulling. No part of it was particularly complicated or labor-intensive, but it did involve more physical activity than I'm used to. Granted, I do work out usually four times per week, but that's not the same as being on my feet for eight hours per day. I was tired and sore when I got home from work each night. I was actually getting used to it by the end of the week, just in time for my return to the office.

I actually didn't mind working in the warehouse at all. I'm glad I don't have to do it every day, but working out there from time to time will be a welcome diversion from constant proofreading. It's pretty mindless work, but that's actually kind of cool because it gives me opportunity to ponder other things or even just chat with co-workers. I did make a friend over the course of the week, so that's cool. I also didn't mind the physical activity. I think the best thing about being out there, though, is that there was always something to do. When you finish one task, you just move on to the next thing. Sometimes in the office, I really do run out of things to do. In the warehouse, if you're finished, that means everyone is finished. That actually happened on Friday afternoon, and so we all got to leave early (at 3:30 instead of 5:00), which was very nice.

On Monday I was back in the office, and it was a little bit weird. The pace of things is just different in there. I think, in general, that I prefer doing the work I do in the office, but I prefer working with the people in the warehouse. I'll get another chance to be out there, though. I've only done one of my required two weeks; the Marketing department decided they couldn't do without a proofer for two full weeks, so my time is getting split. I did last week, and I'll do another probably next month, after our next deadline.

I was also out there for a short time today, actually. Thursday is always our big shipping day, and apparently this is the biggest shipping week we've ever had. Needless to say, the warehouse folk were really busy, so office personnel were out there assisting yesterday and today. I had my proofreading inbox cleared out by the end of the day yesterday, so I started off in the warehouse this morning, pulling orders. I did that until lunchtime, at which point they were caught up and my services were no longer required.

At the end of next week, I'll have been at this "new" job for two full months. I still haven't really decided if I like it or not, and I think that's a bad sign. I think I do like it, for the most part, but most days seem to pass by really slowly. I'm not thrilled about that.

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