Don’t die for me!

This is an actual exchange between an Amazon delivery driver and dispatch during the recent catastrophic weather.

7:08 p.m.

Driver: Radio’s been going off.

Dispatch: OK. Just keep driving. We can’t just call people back for a warning unless Amazon tells us to do so.

Driver: Just relaying in case y’all didn’t hear it over there.

7:40 p.m.

Driver: Tornado alarms are going off over here.

Dispatch: Just keep delivering for now. We have to wait for word from Amazon. If we need to bring people back, the decision will ultimately be up to them. I will let you know if the situation changes at all. I’m talking with them now about it.

Driver: How about for my own personal safety, I’m going to head back. Having alarms going off next to me and nothing but locked building around me isn’t sheltering in place. That’s wanting to turn this van into a casket. Hour left of delivery time. And if you look at the radar, the worst of the storm is going to be right on top of me in 30 minutes.

Driver: It was actual sirens.

Dispatch: “If you decided to come back, that choice is yours. But I can tell you it won’t be viewed as for your own safety. The safest practice is to stay exactly where you are. If you decide to return with your packages, it will be viewed as you refusing your route, which will ultimately end with you not having a job come tomorrow morning. The sirens are just a warning.

Driver: I’m literally stuck in this damn van without a safe place to go with a tornado on the ground.

Dispatch: Amazon is saying shelter in place.

Dispatch: I will know when they say anything else to me.

Dispatch: [Driver name] you need to shelter in place. The wind just came through the warehouse and ripped the rts door and broke it so even if you got back here, you can’t get in the building. You need to stop and shelter in place.

Driver: Okay.

Isn’t it curious that the US Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, is a corrupt Republican who has been slowing down mail delivery, while corporations like Amazon are cracking the whip and compelling their workers to risk their lives to get packages shipped faster and faster?

Here’s the deal: nothing I ever order from Amazon is so time-critical that I’ll get upset if it’s a day or two or three late. Next-day delivery is not a big issue to me — I’m not ordering live organs and human tissue, ever. At least not yet. I don’t want any drivers to die so I can get a rush of gratification.


  1. davidc1 says

    I used to be a motorbike courier in that London .This was when there were lots of companies ,lots of work .Most I earned for a weeks work was £785 ,xmas week 1995 .
    All changed now .All the old companies are gone ,and the ones that are left pay peanuts .
    I came back up to Shropshire with the firm belief that all courier /delivery companies are owned by complete
    and utter bastards .
    Don’t know if any of you Americans have heard of a film by Ken Roach ?
    “Sorry We Missed You” ,it’s about companies like amazon ,ups ,yodel ,and all the rest ,and the way they
    treat the poor sods who work for them .

  2. kome says

    An acquaintance of mine works at a customer service call center thingie for Amazon. In the following days after the tornadoes, he received some abuse over the phone from people in the Kentucky area for packages not showing up “on time”, with a fair number of people explicitly saying they didn’t care about how the tornadoes affected delivery.

    As much blame as Amazon deserves for this, a surprising number of regular normal everyday Americans are just callously cruel and indifferent to the suffering of people all along the supply chain, allowing Amazon some cover to say “hey, we’re just trying to satisfy our customers.” Plenty of blame to go around, I guess.

  3. consciousness razor says

    Here’s the deal:

    Sorry, but they’re not reading your blog, PZ. So you’ve made no deal with them, and it’s pointless to act like you did.

    (“I hereby demand that Tesla not put their experimental crap on public roads which other drivers use.” See? They’re not listening to me. It was just a performance art piece, and nobody even paid me for the tickets.)

    Stop using Amazon. It’s called a “boycott.” Not that that’s the only way to fix it or even the best way…. But they certainly don’t need the extra profits from you.

  4. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 2

    …he received some abuse over the phone from people in the Kentucky area for packages not showing up “on time”, with a fair number of people explicitly saying they didn’t care about how the tornadoes affected delivery.

    Why do suspect that these are the same people also militantly refuse to get the COVID vaccine, wear a mask, or social distance?

  5. garnetstar says

    “The sirens are just a warning”? As someone who lived in a tornado state for a while, the sirens mean a tornado has been sighted, has touched down, and is heading that way. So yeah, they’re a “warning” that you’re about to get hit.

    And, of all places to be in a tornado, any kind of car or truck is one of the absolute worst, the most dangerous. The official word is that, if you’re caught in one, to get out and lie flat in the lowest ground you can find, even a ditch. It’s safer than staying in the car. I saw footage once of a tornado pick up an 18-wheeler and just toss it through the air.

  6. PaulBC says

    “Shut up and die like an aviator.”

    I admit I never thought of Amazon drivers as the 21st century equivalent of test pilots. Do they give medals?

  7. astringer says

    PaulBC @ 7
    Amazon possibly got confused between “Chuck Yeager” and “Chuck yer gear”…

  8. atomjz says

    A siren should always give a worker complete immunity from reprimand if they shelter, but I do feel that I must joke that here in eastern Iowa, they sound the tornado sirens if a light sprinkle or shower maybe, might, have the slimmest possibility of appearing 4 states away from us.

  9. Rich Woods says

    “Shut up and die like an aviator.”

    I woke up to the thought that I might spend that day’s shift driving to the neighbouring town and delivering to GL51 3EQ, but as it turned out I drowned in the Indian Ocean.

  10. whheydt says

    While my daughter was working a support desk for leased (data) lines, she had to explain to someone that, no, just because his line was out did NOT mean they would dispatch someone to climb telephone poles in a thunderstorm.

  11. sayke says

    I really don’t know how it could be considered ethical to ever order anything through Amazon. It made me stop using them a while back, but it’s starting to get now that I’ll give side eyes to anyone who still does.

  12. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    re @2
    People calling to complain their deliveries were late, is also Amazon’s fault. Theyve been training customers to expect on time service through their PRIME subscription fee.
    It is all Bezos. He is to blame

  13. snarkhuntr says


    Alternatives to Amazon are literally everywhere else. Granted – you won’t find one single retailer that carries everything Amazon stocks, but you will almost certainly find individual retailers who do, and often at a lower price.

    I needed 3 glow plugs for an engine, Amazon’s delivery estimate was 2 weeks and the price was about $45ea. I called two local auto parts places and found the same plugs for $38each and only a 20min drive from work.

  14. microraptor says

    Alternatives to Amazon depend on where you live.

    Where I live, most independent stores have long since gone out of business so the only real alternative is Walmart.

  15. indianajones says

    Compare and contrast what a decent union in Australia will do for you: I work in Wind Turbine construction. If it gets too windy = 20m/sec It’s outta the towers until it drops off. If there is a lightning strike within 40 km, it’s outta the tower and back to the compound for 1 hour after last strike. If it’s gonna be windy/lightningy tomorrow they have to give 18 hrs notice to not turn up to work, aka lunchtime today or you get paid 8 hrs even if you don;t end up turning up because they call it at say 4 pm the day before and not lunchtime.

  16. davidc1 says

    @16 I use the independent traders that are on amazon,such as World of Book’s,We Buy Book’s,that are also on ebay .
    I will admit I have signed up to a free trial of amazon prime to get something delivered next day.

  17. unclefrogy says

    I shop o on/at the monopoly and ebay . They became dominant because they did what the customers wanted and did it securely.
    That they treat their employees poorly is their fault and not really surprising at all, it would be some what unusual if they did not treat them poorly with out a union involved.
    The problem is that they are an effective monopoly. They are in effect a catalog business a digital one true but a catalog business none the less. They did not invent that kind if business but they did transfer it on-line kind of effectively it could be better but still. They had no competition from one of the first catalog marketers Sears, the owners at the time bought it for the assets it had not the business which they let fail. Montgomery wards had already left the market so they were left with no competition and enough of a market of people with out the time to drive all over to get what they wanted
    the owners bezos and the board and management are so much like the “robber barons” of the 19th century that the only thing different is the clothing and the hair cuts
    they share their apparent complete lack of shame in the way they run the business and treat their fellow human beings.