I’m working for Columbia Sportswear now, enjoying the vigorous work and the novelty of working in a gargantuan warehouse. It was just the change I needed. The pace is brisk and the people are refreshingly civilized.
I worked several years ago in a much smaller warehouse moving products around for Leslie’s Swimming Pool Supplies in Hebron, Kentucky, so much of it is familiar. There is a basic infrastructure common to warehouses. The work is done by use of pallets and jacks and forklifts and all kinds of other hydraulic machinery. Products are stored on great shelves stretching into the air. The system hasn’t changed fundamentally in a long time.
However, Columbia Sportswear’s Rivergate Distribution Center is a brand-new experience. It is a colossal structure covering 950,000 square feet. It’s like a city with a ceiling. Some of its vast storage shelves have eight levels, all packed with products worth untold millions. The products are moved about the building by 12 miles of conveyor belts. By the time orders have been procured and packed into labeled cartons, there waits a whole team of people in shipping ready to pluck them off the belts, scan them and place them on pallets. Once the pallets are loaded, each one is verified, wrapped, marked and moved to open bays where forklift operators whisk them away for storage or immediate loading onto trucks. All the while, each carton is tracked by a central computer. Each employee has what is essentially a miniature computer strapped to his wrist. Every time he moves a box or pallet, its status is updated by the punching of keys. Coordinators can find out in a second exactly where a carton is.
Amidst all the surprisingly quiet machinery, there is more than ample opportunity to burn off a day’s supply of energy, since much of the work is done manually. Items that require special processing are transported through the huge facility on bicycles. All of it is done in a remarkably well-kept, brightly lit facility. Even for the purist who loathes all that is artificial, the place is a marvel of human ingenuity and practical design.
All in all, it’s been a good experience so far. The people are generally kind and helpful. There is an open invitation for the enthusiastic soul to go to his superiors for training on increasingly complex procedures. Of course, the coordinators want people who are willing and able to help manage the work, which is sporadic, occurring in great bursts of activity. The motivated worker has an ongoing venue in which to display his energy and work ethic.
I feel a sense of gratitude as I think about what I have in this job. I’m deliberately dismissing thoughts of the wage I’m earning. It is minuscule, but then again, my overhead is presently quite low, and it’s a temporary situation. Everything else is a plus. I wanted to work with energetic, respectful professionals. I desired vigorous work. I wanted, as always, to enjoy new experiences. I’m getting all that.
While I was between jobs, I made it a point not to fret over the suspension of income. I insisted to myself (and anyone else who asked) that God would provide. I paid up my rent in advance, gave my tithes and even put some money down on a new website project that will be in progress for some months. I thought it reasonable to do all this out of my small savings because I believed God would give me another job soon. He did, and I’m blessed.