Why I Prefer Warehouse Work Over Retail

So far, I’ve lasted seven months at my warehouse job The job I do full-time is easier than the one I did part-time. Only needing to keep up a certain rate makes it hard.

I sincerely never expected to think of working in a warehouse any better than retail. I made the switch for a higher wage and because retail is for extroverts, but I still expected to have my soul sucked out of me and dread going every day. While nothing will ever make me enjoy waking up early, I don’t hate my job and while I can’t say I look forward to going (it is ten hours of work, after all), I don’t dread being there.

Obviously, this is very subjective. There are people out there who feel the opposite way: can’t stand warehouse work, but are great in retail. As for why I particularly like it (besides getting paid more):

  • No customers. I won’t lie. This is the biggest reason I hated retail. Too many people! I worked as a cashier and, unfortunately, the management thought I was great at it. Too many people in too short a time and too much interaction. No, I really don’t care to idly chat with this person. I just want to ring their stuff, so they can pay for it and get out! I can’t talk that much out of my mouth. At least, not small talk! It’s boring. Heck, part of why I wanted to work on the floor was to get away from this. The other part was not wanting to be confined to a small space (though this didn’t change with my current job, I’m too busy to notice most of the time, and I don’t need permission to leave that space).
  • Too little staff and leaving late. There’s a reason closing shifts are the most hated, but I grew to hate every shift. It seemed like we never had enough people. I remember there was once two cashiers scheduled for the entire day, meaning the floor people would be counted on as backup. I hated that. Of course, warehouses can have too little staff, but so far, my experience with my current job has been sometimes, too many people show up! My day always ends at 6pm, when I’m scheduled. I’m not obligated to stay later to continue cleaning. Speaking of cleaning…
  • No cleaning up after people. This is the second-biggest reason, and it’s why I don’t give two cents about automation coming into retail. Customers are freaking slobs! Our store looked like a tornado struck every night! And shockingly, it rarely was the kids. Really, who raised these people? My mom would’ve destroyed me if I didn’t clean up after myself in someone else’s space. I still wish they banned food! Warehouses are definitely not sparkling and spic-and-span, but cleaning up the warehouse is not part of my job! The most they ask is to keep our stations clean and that’s fine with me since, you know, I’m working in that spot and the trash likely came from me.
  • Break schedule. I suppose it makes sense my retail job had no regular break schedule since consistent scheduling doesn’t exist in retail by any sense of the phrase. But it actually helps the day go quicker. There were also times you couldn’t get a break because there was no cover. On two occasions, I’ve been one of only two staff members in the entire store. And the second time was pure chance because I wasn’t scheduled. The keyholder that day called me in and I said yes. She didn’t say she had no other staff with her whatsoever, presumably because it would’ve sounded like a guilt trip. I must respect her for that.
  • Always something to do. This one is more about desk jobs than retail. I had two desk jobs and they were boring as boring could be. I spent more time warming the chair than doing work. And it wasn’t laziness. There was sincerely nothing to do but talk, which, as I already said, I cannot do for long periods of time. It wouldn’t have been so bad if entertaining ourselves was allowed when there was no work to be done, but that wasn’t the case. The expectation was to sit there and do nothing until something popped up for you take care of. While I don’t want more work than I can handle, I don’t want the polar opposite either. If you’re going to have me here for the majority of the day, give me enough work to fill that time! Anything that takes more effort than keeping my butt in a chair. Being on my feet all day isn’t fun, but I’ll always take it over sitting in boredom for the same amount of time. Keeping busy (and good socks and shoes!) prevents me from noticing the pain.

None of this is to say I never get frustrated at my job. There’s no day without some kind of problem: computer freezing, jammed cubes, heavy stuff, the conveyor not working, needing to search for tiny items, exact same items with multiple different SKUs (I want to imprison the people who do this!), the scanner not scanning. Anything the causes me to mess up my time fries my nerves. I also learned way more varieties of sex toys than I ever cared to know. But none of those problems, as annoying as they are, result in me staying past 6pm or leave only two people in the whole warehouse. Plus, it’s fun to think that sometimes, computers are freaking stupid.

Of course, most warehouse positions are physical and can’t be done after a certain age. While I’m okay with my job, I still overall prefer something less physical that could keep me just as busy (or allow me to entertain myself when there is no work) so I’m not bored out of my mind. Maybe it’ll come someday. Maybe not.

For the present, I’ll be happy with what I have.

Ninety Days Working

Today is my 90th of employment at my warehouse job. Woohoo!

I also finally turned in my resignation notice to my retail job. I am no longer on call. I am not their employee anymore. One of my former managers recently posted how much the store looks like trash after she visited, and while the unexpected validation was unnecessary, I consider it reassuring of my choice. Ironically, and funny, the store finally got a new store manager one day after I quit.

What is so special about ninety days? First, and most importantly to me, I think it’s safe to say I’m… safe. If I haven’t been fired by now, I don’t have much reason to expect it. Second, it means I’ve finally managed to hold on to a job that’s not retail. Granted, at three months, I was proclaiming I love my retail job too, but that was before the store fell into the deepest pit of hell. Even back then, the store had some problems I simply didn’t have enough experience to see yet, but no workplace is perfect.

The most significant difference to me is the pay rate. I know there’s more a job than money, but let’s face it: we all have bills to pay. But I’m not talking solely about base pay. I’m talking about where it goes.

In retail, I started at $9/hr. Three years later, I left at $10.41. That would be a big deal if not for two facts: the extra dollar came from a temporary promotion (company policy forbids withdrawing a raise), and new employees with zero experience (like I started with) for the same position would be hired at $11/hr. Unsurprisingly, that contributed to some of the employees who had experience jumping ship (not that most of the new ones stayed for long). The other matter is you get a twenty cent raise once a year. In other words, if my state’s minimum wage hadn’t risen this past summer, I would’ve gotten a 41 cent raise in three years.

Meanwhile, at my warehouse job, I got a 75 cent raise. Please refer back to the title of this post.

Three years to get a raise of less than half a dollar or three months to get a raise of 3/4ths of a dollar? Tough choice.

Yes, I realize that depends on the workplace itself rather than the industry, but that doesn’t invalidate my point. I’ve been told there’s often a better chance of making more money by switching jobs than switching positions in a job. Which means I likely will have to leave my warehouse job someday if I want more money. For now, it works for me, so not someday soon.

180 days – six months – will be in January. Let’s see if I can leave this year with this job.

My Guilty Conscience

Recently, I used Amazon for a purchase.

I stopped using Amazon some years ago because they don’t accept PayPal and, much more serious and atrocious, they’re infamous for treating their warehouse workers like garbage.

Unfortunately, a desire to save some money on a graphics tablet and its unavailability for the same price elsewhere led me to their website. They lost my package, but they refunded the shipping cost, gave me a promotional credit, and resent the package (I only asked for the last option). Their customer service is wonderful, but that makes my conscience worse.

I do not want to support a company that treats its workers horrendously. At the same time, it doesn’t matter whether I use Amazon or not. They’re big enough, and successful enough, that most people don’t care about those workers, and I may as well be a speck of dirt in comparison to their customer base. Yet, my conscience still doesn’t let me off the hook.

Yes, I feel guilty about buying from Amazon. I desperately hope the customer service representatives are treated well, or using their services will be on my conscience as well. That said, all workers should be treated well without exception. Despite what I just said above about knowing lack of my business with them means nothing, I doubt I will use Amazon again after I receive the package they lost due to my conscience eating away at me.

I recently read an article where, in response to criticism of how their workers are treated, Amazon responded by saying they pay their workers more than most retailers. The problem has zero to do with money, and that combined with my conscience is more than enough for me to avoid Amazon after they deliver my package. I only wish I could make more of a difference than not giving them my business (which, again, makes no difference at all).