Is it OK to break the rules to hit target?


“Hey you, take from the cone!” She exclaimed. Taking a full 180, I came face to face with a lady with bright cherry lips and she was clearly not amused.

Yep, it was another greenhorn who was inappropriately dressed for walking over 20 miles a day. Tight jeans, immaculate makeup, silky black hair pulled back into a tight pony tail and a middle class sweater which inadvertently said “I don’t belong here” – join the club I thought! The problem was she was right; neither of us belonged and according to the training, I absolutely should have taken from the cone – but hey, nobody ever does.

How I found myself at Amazon as a temporary “Stower” (glorified shelf stacker) is somewhat of a long story, but for context – I was somewhere between leaving a job that required selling my soul to the devil whilst waiting for the next real opportunity to come along and my wife insisting that I get off my fat butt and do some work.

I never did get to know the cherry lips lady , she only lasted the day as did so many others and inevitably by the end of the 10 hour shift, she too ignored the cone. Oh how my respect for her diminished as did my hope – I really thought she would be our Stowing Messiah, the one who would call out the blatant injustice of it all. That said and to be fair to her, I once thought it could be me that would save us but alas, I like all those that had gone before and fallen, succumbed to the temptation of breaking the rules to achieve my stowing target.

The way it works is simple. Endless rows of trolley carts packed to the gunnels with merchandise are lined up in readiness for the stowers to fill the warehouse shelves. We are instructed to only take from the cart that has the cone on it. This is vitally important because the stock comes in all different shapes and sizes and as everyone is heavily targeted to stow at least 150 items an hour, this process keeps it fair. However, when leadership is not looking, the cart that has the cone with 10 large heavy items on it is totally ignored in preference to the one next to it that has say 500 hairgrips – you see the dilemma? It was this exact skulduggery that the cherry lips lady called me out on.

So it begs the question – take from the cone or not?