Getting a job at Amazon during the pandemic wasn't the turning point in Remington's life. That came earlier, about eight years ago, when his daughter was born.
"She actually saved my life," Remington said. "That's the way I look at it. I was on a high road to nowhere, basically. I had her young, and she put my life together. She was the fire underneath my butt that I needed to be the man I am today."
His daughter turned him into a big-picture guy when it comes to his financial goals. She made him appreciate stability, so he wanted to improve on his last job, waiting tables at a steakhouse. At the restaurant, a slow night with fewer diners meant fewer tips and less take-home pay. A string of slow nights meant stressing over whether he could pay rent and keep a roof over his head. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic, a catastrophe for the restaurant industry. His bosses "decided to cut my hours because everybody needed to work, and I understood that," Remington said. "But I have a beautiful daughter I have to provide for, so I couldn't actually be okay with that. And that's what made my choice to come here, to Amazon."
Amazon raised its starting pay to $15 per hour (double the U.S. federal minimum wage) back in 2018. So Remington earned $15 an hour as soon as he started at the Amazon fulfillment center in DuPont, Washington last September. He was one of 100,000 people Amazon hired nationwide to keep up with extra customer needs during the pandemic. His steady paycheck, and the chance to work some overtime, gave him the stability he was looking for.
Now, he said, "instead of just wondering 'Am I going to make rent this month?' I'm like, 'Yeah, I got the bills this month. I can do it, I can do it. I can even go on a trip.'" He's taken his daughter skiing and fishing, where they've shared big laughs over his tumbles on the slopes and the time that he was trying to show her that baiting a hook wasn't gross. "I grabbed this huge worm, and I freaked out. She was like, 'See? It's weird.' And I was like, 'Yeah, it's kind of weird. But we've got to do it.'"
Remington is even putting money away to go in on buying a house with his siblings, two of whom work in the same Amazon building and recommended the job to him.
For the first time in his life, he also has the stability of a job with medical, dental, and vision benefits—something no previous employer offered him. "They didn't even ask me if I wanted benefits," he said of the restaurant and warehouse jobs he worked before Amazon. "Even when I asked them if I could, they said they can't because they can't afford it, and I should get on state insurance, which I was for a long time. Now, for the first time, I'm here at Amazon, and they provide amazing benefits. I finally get to get new contacts and glasses now."
Remington also appreciates his Amazon managers' emphasis on protecting him from injury. "They care about safety more than they do their numbers, and I felt that personally," he said. For example, managers stop his work to coach him on proper lifting techniques.
Remington's goal now is to stay at Amazon and move up. He sees paths to do that. He's getting support for learning new skills and testing into jobs like driving the machines that move goods around the fulfillment center.
A male employee wearing a face mask and a yellow safety vest stands on the floor of an Amazon fulfillment center, looking at the camera. Boxes are on a conveyor belt behind him.
His daughter notices his enthusiasm for what he's doing and his hope for what it can mean for their future. When she sees a truck with Amazon's smile logo, she says, "Oh, you work there!"
"I don't work in that truck," he always dad-jokes back.
"And then she'll start laughing and say, 'I know, Dad. I know. It's just Amazon.'"