My shift is from 4pm until midnight. For the entire eight hours, orders don’t stop coming. I sit down just once during the entire shift for about five minutes. My colleague and I race around the aisles trying to catch up with the influx of orders and notifications. Like rats in a maze, but with no exit. When doing repetitive tasks for a sustained amount of time, my body and mind enter a workflow. My movements and voice feel automated. I’m no longer consciously thinking about the space or the steps.
I remember that I need to write some notes about my sensory experience of the shift and suddenly realise that I can’t feel my body. Or, at least, I’m not aware of my body. By this time I should have been exhausted, if not from the movement then from the concentration that demanded of me. But instead, I feel numb. I just keep going. I don’t even get a break this shift — I did ask but it was too busy. So I carry on.
‘When doing repetitive tasks for a sustained amount of time, my body and mind enter a workflow. My movements and voice feel automated. I’m no longer consciously thinking about the space or the steps.’
During storm Eunice, the Dark Store is incredibly busy. Customers are aware of the weather and still feel it’s necessary to place an order. Later in the day, we’re forced to close because of the danger the storm poses to the riders. I am a picker today. The riders enter the Dark Store, soaking wet and dripping all over the floor and bags of groceries. They aren’t chatty. They’re cold and tired. Only occasionally would a rider be able to make a cup of coffee. My friend who rode during this storm explains to me how e-bikes normally reach a speed of around 48 km/h. If you put a gail force wind behind that, with a rider whose weight is unevenly distributed, it makes for a dangerous ride. He genuinely fears for his life at this moment.
A few riders take off their socks and shoes and place plastic bags underneath to warm their feet a little bit and dry up for the coming rides. But the Dark Store is not a place for relief. It is concrete. There is not enough space for movement. If they wait too long they’ll get too cold. They want to keep moving and finish their deliveries for the day.