Valued at nearly $1 trillion, Amazon is one of the most powerful companies in the world. The Seattle-based retail giant employs over 600,000 people and operates 100 sortation and fulfillment centers in North America, sometimes sending out as many as 1 million items per day to customers. But Amazon does more than just retail. Amazon publishes its own books and comics, finances TV shows and movies, operates a Texas wind farm, builds robots, streams music, delivers prescription medications, and operates web services for everyone from Medium to the CIA. And that’s not even counting its high-profile acquisitions, which include Twitch, IMDB, Zappos, and Whole Foods, among countless others.
Nearly all of us use Amazon, one way or another. But what is it like working inside the beast? Over the next few weeks, we’ll be talking to workers at every level of the Amazon empire to find out.
Welcome to The Amazon Diaries.
Kris Marv is a busy guy: A father of three, including a newborn baby, he recently went back to school to prepare for a career in criminal justice. He lives in Hampton Roads, Virginia, with his wife, who is in the military and currently on maternity leave. For the last three months, Marv has been working as an Amazon Flex and DoorDash delivery driver Monday through Friday.
Although Amazon is largely dependent on UPS, FedEx, and the U.S. Postal Service to make “last mile” deliveries, it supplements that workforce with Flex Drivers — independent contractors with their own cars who deliver goods to customers for an hourly wage. Every morning, Marv, and drivers like him, wake up early to look for open jobs on their phones. In the best case scenario, Marv will catch a “block” on Amazon Flex, meaning he’ll have a block of time to deliver a certain number of packages. He’ll pick up those packages from a nearby warehouse and deliver them for $20 per hour — and sometimes more, depending on weather conditions or driver shortages. Of all the delivery jobs out there, Marv says, Flex pays the best hourly wage. Then, comes Prime Now or…