One of Terraform's artists, Surian Soosay, recently did a brief stint at an Amazon fulfillment center warehouse. He quit soon after, citing a miserable work experience. Given that Amazon's dominance as a retailer is only growing, I asked him to imagine what the future might look like for the workers who toil behind the scenes, behind the drones and the Echo, making online shopping possible. He returned with a retro-future illustrated account, 'A Portrait of an Amazonian.' Enjoy. -the editor.
November 13th, 2046. Another day at the Warehouse. Beginning of my shift. The delivery drones are parked, ready to go. We'll need to pack them soon. Right next to them, the new security drones.
The bots scan us when we enter and exit the building, to make sure we are wearing the right equipment, to test for drugs.
To make sure we aren’t stealing.
They have plenty of drones, but here's the secret: We're cheaper. And they need us to organize stuff, scan the parcels. I still suppose we’ll be replaced by robots at some point.
I thought the bar code scanning eye-visor was cool at first. Now I hope it doesn’t give me brain cancer.
Being human is an inconvenience here. Sleep is an inconvenience. It's all I do when I get home, though. I’ll catch up with house work on my day off.
My heart still pumps blood, looks like. They haven’t automated my chest yet.
12 hours with just 1 half hour break. I hate these metal boots. Sick of the foot pain. Can’t wait to take them off for good.
My gloves have worn down at the tips. It’s ok I guess, easier to control the barcode visor with your finger tips.
Arm aches from last night. Shouldn’t wear a watch, just makes the time go slower. I’ll just stick with this till Christmas. That will be enough. Then I can leave this place.
It’s cold to the bone. Luckily I have the thermals on. I guess robots don’t feel the cold. My colleagues don’t feel the cold either. They are tough, or just numb, or both.
Weird nightshift hours have killed my appetite. I’ve been quieter lately. No time for drinks, meals out or hobbies. I can save some money I guess.
Portraiture used to be my hobby. I’ll get back to it once I quit. I guess I have more respect for ‘still life’—humans feel more like inanimate objects to me now.
[Start of shift: 10:57pm]
Made it through security. Another night at this damn place. Time to scan those parcels.
from Portrait of an Amazonian