A Tale of 2 M’s

I was cleaning out my car earlier this week when I came across a business card. It was a business card I acquired during a seasonal job I had been working at Amazon. My job title at Amazon was a sortation specialist. It was a perfect 21st century job in that respect, where the job title and the job duties are mutually exclusive. What I mostly did at that job was the job of a puller, The title puller, in this case, is partially descriptive of the task I was performing, Packages ready to be delivered to customers would be unloaded from a truck and then either immediately or after further sorting placed on a conveyor built. My job was to “pull” these packages off the belt and place them on racks where other sortations specialist in this case “stowers” would place them in conveyances where they would then be ultimately delivered to the consumer. On some nights, I would work other roles, but the majority of my 3+ months with Amazon, I was a puller.

Just in case, you don’t think I’m aware of it, I haven’t really got to the point of my story that talks about the business card in my car. There was somewheres between 20 – 50 people on my shift doing or overseeing similar tasks as mine. As a team we were a very efficient bunch, often scoring in the top 10 of all the similar units in Amazon. My direct boss told me that I worked with a sense of urgency. I wore that compliment like a badge.

During our breaks and lunches most of us sat in the break room, playing games provided by management, interfacing on our smart phone, eating, talking with or co workers or some nights taking a power nap. I often sat with an man whose name begins with M, so I’ll refer to him as M1 for the rest of my tale ( you can tell by my title, this is a tale of 2 M’s). M1 was an older man who often worked as a puller alongside or across with me. In fact whatever our role was for the evening we were quite often working together. It was natural then, that we would also take our breaks and lunches together. M1 owned his own tax business and we would often speak of this as this was his busy season. Like many of those on our shift, sortation specializing was his 2nd job

Oh, I see where you’re going with this, I can hear you saying. It’s M1’s card that you found in your car. No my dear reader, it was not. It was actually M2’s card that I found. I wasn’t quite there yet, but since you are in such a rush for me to move on, I guess I shall.

One day on lunch, I stopped off to talk with my boss about my performance. It may have been that very evening that he made the works with a sense of urgency comment. When I got to M1 and my table a young man was sitting across from M1 talking his ear off. This man who we will call M2, because the name on his business card also starts with M, also frequently worked alongside me. There were also times that M2 worked with a sense of urgency, but these times were limited to his breaks and lunches. On these occasions he would talk with his co-workers about his job as a financial planner. On the occasion I am referring to he was trying to network with M1 regarding partnering with him with his tax prep clients. On another occasion he found out that I had 3 teenagers and he made sure that he gave me his card entitled “college consultant” later that shift.

I certainly don’t begrudge M2 from utilizing his breaks and lunches to propel his business. If I had witnessed M2 working with that degree of urgency while we were “on the clock” his card may have made it’s way into my wallet rather than falling in between the seats of my car. But alas this is where the two M’s were most different. Like me M1 wasn’t the most suited for the kind of work Amazon was employing us for. However, also like me M1 and I attempted to give our best effort every minute of every evening we worked there. M2 was more like some of the other employees who only worked hard when the job required it. This was actually most of the time. But there were minutes each night that could add up to hours each week, where it was possible to blend in and let others do the work. The last 10 to 15 minutes or more of a shift where folks like M2 would congregate together while folks like M1 and myself found work to do. I never saw M2 take any extra initiative to assist his co-workers beyond the parameters of his duties. M1 like myself would often step into assist before management asked us to do so.

M1 never tried to solicit me to get his business as a tax preparer. But if I ever needed a tax preparer, I would seek him out with confidence. If I ever met up with someone who needs tax assistance and lives or works near one of his 2 offices, I would recommend him gladly. I also do not need assistance at present with a college consultant. However if I did, M2 would not be who I reached out to. He may be an excellent financial planner, but in my mind, I would just expect him to work to a certain level and no more. You see in determining who I will partner with, I hold people to a certain standard, the same standard I hold myself to.

This is a great challenge to us everytime we put ourselves in public we must ask ourselves what kind of M do people see?