We left off with us settling in at the 55+ RV park in the middle of northern Phoenix. With funds dwindling, Steph and I went to work on finding jobs. It was a tough slog and I was getting no interviews. Then, we both got jobs at Amazon for the “peak season”.
I started work at DPX3 in Chandler, AZ. The drive was about 40min, all freeway, from where I-17 and Hwy-101 meet and then down to Elliot Road in Chandler. My shift was 6:45am to 1:45am. Steph got a position at a different Amazon facility in Goodyear, an equal distance in another direction from the RV park. She worked 2am to 10:30am. She worked three days a week and I worked four. Well, sorta. You’ll see.
The first time I showed up was November 9, 2019. The building is smaller than you’d think and obviously not purpose built for Amazon. DPX3 was a delivery warehouse and all items would show up to the facility already packaged. Semi’s would back up to the dock, be unloaded for sorting and leave. We usually processed four to six semi’s a shift. Our job was to sort the unloaded packages into various bags and get them onto delivery vans for local customers. My job and duties changed every day or so. They were big on giving everyone a break. I’d start out the morning either picking, unloading or stowing. After all of the packages had been sorted into bags, we’d go to lunch or do an audit. Then the bags full of packages would be put onto carts and pushed to various spots of the warehouse, ready to be unloaded into the delivery vans. The work was fast paced and you would definitely break a sweat.
Steph worked at DPX6 in Goodyear. That site was four or five times the size of my facility, purpose built for Amazon, and they had robots. At DPX3, we did it all by hand. Steph would spend eight hours usually doing one job, mostly loading up chutes that loaded robots. I think my site would have been more fun for her. More variety and a day that went by fast.
After three weeks, Steph got a job in “high tech”. She worked for a company that processed emails and other digital information after a company had suffered a data breach. She spent hours just reading other people’s emails from various companies looking for 3rd party personal information and flagging it for review. Boring, but it was semi-consistent and paid $3 more an hour.
After twenty-five years of pushing a desk and only occasionally lifting weights or doing martial arts, my body was not ready for Amazon. The first few weeks I had to take advantage of VTO (voluntary time off) so my body could recover. By the time December came around, I was fit. Instead of instantly dying after getting home and passing out, I’d go do other things and chores. My body got use to being physical again and I was loving it. The work was so fast paced that one wouldn’t really have time to socialize. At lunch, I drank ice water and sat by myself. There were a couple of assholes there but most people were fantastic. Lots of hard working folks, many with one or two other jobs in addition to Amazon. Most people were very nice. To this day I miss it. You did what you had to do and left it all at work.
The problem was money. We had slowed the bleeding but we were still in trouble. By the time January had come, Steph and I decided that we would entertain some of the recruiters that were still contacting us about jobs in the Portland area. Two days after that she was contacted by a recruiter looking for people to fill out a new team at Intel. She forwarded him on to me as well and we both submitted our resumes. A couple more days later we got interviews for Jan 10.
We flew into Portland on Jan 10, grabbed the rental car and headed over the Glenn Jackson bridge to Vancouver, WA. We got ready for our interviews at Steph’s sister’s and then eventually made our way to Hillsboro, OR. The interviews went as well as interviews generally do, we got back on a plane and flew back to Phoenix. That was a Friday. I went back to work at Amazon and wondered how long I’d be at DPX3.
The following Monday, I was offered a position at Intel working on Tiger Lake cpu testing. Steph was passed over this time, but we were both confident that she’d get picked up eventually. I accepted the position and we planned our move. My first day was going to be January 22 so we had about a week or so to get there. But where to live? As chance would have it, my daughter’s boyfriend lost his job the same day we were in town interviewing. We all decided to be roommates. This meant leaving the RV in Phoenix, in storage.
We had an uneventful two day drive coming back to the Portland area and go here the night of January 18. It was surreal. I hadn’t thought about being back in Clark County for so long that it wasn’t a certainty that coming back would ever happen. Not that we really wanted to be back, but there were upsides. The biggest being able to see family and friends! If I had to be back in the People’s Republic of Washington, at least some of my favorite people in the world would be here as well.
I started on January 22nd and ever since then, I started hearing about people getting sick in Wuhan. At first I figured it was another bullshit SARS or H1N1 (bird flu) thing that would terrorize China or perhaps some of the other Asian countries. The next day China locked down the entire Wuhan area. I instantly knew that this was different and unprecedented, but maybe things would be ok. Hubei Provice was locked down and then shortly there after things got out of control.
All of February I’m working at Intel in Hillsboro and Steph got a position at another high tech company a few miles down the street from me. Things were blowing up more and more in Asia, but we were starting to get our heads above water financially.
March rolls around and things have taken a decidedly bad turn for the worst. Steph and I weren’t feeling very good around the 10th. We went to the urgency care clinic and they said we didn’t have strep or flu, go home. Still feeling crappy, I took the next three days off from work. Steph kept going to her job as she didn’t have paid time off like I did.
Monday the 16th rolls around and I come into work. Lots of people are working from home, parking has never been easier. We have a big meeting via Skype at 10am and they announce there will be a new schedule that limits contact between us. Twelve hour shifts, alternating days on or off, etc. I get put on a shift that works Th-Sat and occasionally Wed.
The next day, someone in my household (I won’t say who at this time) gets sicker. Our roommates were ill for days as well. One of us goes to the Vancouver Clinic and gets a chest x-ray. Then a Covid19 test. Doing my part , I contact my manager, telling him the situation. He says don’t come in unless you get a negative result on that test.
So today is March 19th and I got very little to do. A good time to update the blog, right? lol The test result takes four to five days to come back. I won’t hear anything about it till Monday.