On Feeling Guilty for Ordering Stuff Online

I like ordering things online and not having to hunt for them in stores.  And sometimes the alternative is being eliminated.  Just like paying cash or taking public transit, live stores, especially bookstores, are disappearing.  There is only one major bookstore chain left:  Barnes and Noble.  And yes you have to have an Account, and a Username and a Password, which only makes me want to deal with fewer sellers because I would have to have a new account for every place I bought from, even if only buying one book or piece of clothing.  When they make phones with slots that take coins and bills, I will be very happy!

But it is now becoming known that working conditions in the warehouses and ‘fulfillment centers’ are barely worthy of China, much less what we used to think was worthy of America.

Warehouse workers often have a machine attached to them that tells them not only what to pick out next but exactly how many seconds they have to get there.  If the thing they are looking for turns out to be on a higher shelf so that they have to jump, or isn’t where the machine says it is, so that they have to take extra seconds, they may fall below their ‘rate’ or ‘goal’ and get a black mark.  Breaks are barely enough to use the bathroom, because the workers have to go through security to get into the break area, and the lines for the bathroom are long; there is, of course, no time to eat.  You cannot bring personal stuff [except the clothes on your back] into the work area, and there are no secure lockers outside to store your valuables.  On election day, what with Christmas and Black Friday, you are not allowed to take off from your 16 hour double shift to vote.

A so called ‘living wage’ would not help.  [And I’ve said that I’m not necessarily opposed to a higher minimum wage for people over the age of 26.]  They would only tighten the times and make the breaks shorter, if they could.  What might be needed is legislation about pace as a safety standard, about size of bathrooms or length of breaks, and all that, or maybe a good union.  [Private sector unions are another matter entirely — at least in industries of this kind — from public sector unions.]  Or, someone could open a Fair Trade Warehouse, just like we have Fair Trade Coffee, and items coming out of it might be a bit more expensive but fashionable young people might buy them.  This might be, if not the best, the most practical solution for now.

I will also say that if a book is available on Amazon Kindle, I get it on Kindle.  But when it’s not available on Kindle, or if it’s a gift, I have to order hard copy; so I still get to feel guilty about that.

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