I have worked at a few warehouses in my life. I still have a couple scars on my forearms from one of them -- caused by repeated burning. Working there sucked bad.

Undercover warehouse worker/journalist Mac McClelland recently took a job at a major online retailer shipping warehouse and lived to tell the tale.

She calls herself a Warehouse Wage Slave. The names have been changed to protect the innocent. Her story is well-written, descriptive and even funny. Even if you disagree with her.

Some highlights:

Before Mac starts her new job the woman at the local chamber of commerce says "Don't take anything that happens to you there personally."

"They need you to work as fast as possible to push out as much as they can as fast as they can. So they're gonna give you goals, and then you know what? If you make those goals, they're gonna increase the goals. But they'll be yelling at you all the time. It's like the military. They have to break you down so they can turn you into what they want you to be. So they're going to tell you, 'You're not good enough, you're not good enough, you're not good enough,' to make you work harder. Don't say, 'This is the best I can do.' Say, 'I'll try,' even if you know you can't do it. Because if you say, 'This is the best I can do,' they'll let you go. They hire and fire constantly, every day. You'll see people dropping all around you. But don't take it personally and break down or start crying when they yell at you."

Pretty sound advice. To say this place has a reputation around town would be a gross understatement.

"You'll see people dropping all around you. But don't take it personally and break down or start crying when they yell at you."

The hiring process, conducted by a staffing agency, sounds pleasant:

"Though I was kind of excited to trot out my warehouse experience, mainly all I needed to get hired was to confirm 20 or 30 times that I had not been to prison."

"We answer questions at computers grouped in several stations. Have I ever been to prison? the system asks. No? Well, but have I ever been to prison for assault? Burglary? A felony? A misdemeanor? Raping someone? Murdering anybody? Am I sure? There's no point in lying, the computer warns me, because criminal-background checks are run on employees."

The video they watch warns of their evil co-workers.

"In the center of the room, a video plays loudly and continuously on a big screen. Watch out, because some of your coworkers will be the kind of monsters who will file false workers' comp claims. If you know of someone doing this and you tell on him and he gets convicted, you will be rewarded with $500."

This place sounds awesome already!

During training, they brag of a story of how they fired a man for missing one day because his woman had a baby.

"It's my 28th hour as an employee. I probably look happier than I should because I have the extreme luxury of not giving a shit about keeping this job."

"The gal conducting our training reminds us again that we cannot miss any days our first week. There are NO exceptions to this policy. She says to take Brian, for example, who's here with us in training today. Brian already went through this training, but then during his first week his lady had a baby, so he missed a day and he had to be fired. Having to start the application process over could cost a brand-new dad like Brian a couple of weeks' worth of work and pay. Okay? Everybody turn around and look at Brian. Welcome back, Brian. Don't end up like Brian."

She begins to describe the job, but it doesn't sound much different than your typical picking/packing gig: high goals mixed with intense motivation.

She sounds surprised that a temp agency would have an office in the warehouse.

"There are so many temps in this warehouse that the staffing agency has its own office here. Industry consultants describe the temp-staffing business as "very, very busy." "On fire."

I have to disagree with her here. Just because the temp industry is "on fire" doesn't mean it's because they are taking advantage of people. There are thousands of successful temp agencies who do not treat their employees like this.

Back to the grind. Do they get work breaks? Yes, but not before going through a metal detector. If they DON'T set off the metal detector they get searched by hand.

"You look way too happy," an Amalgamated supervisor says to me.

"Really?" I ask.

"Well," the supervisor qualifies. "Just everybody else is usually really sad or mad by the time they've been working here this long."

"It's my 28th hour as an employee. I probably look happier than I should because I have the extreme luxury of not giving a shit about keeping this job."

"Charging for shipping does cause high abandonment rates of online orders, though it's not clear whether people wouldn't pay a few bucks for shipping, or a bit more for the products, if they were guaranteed that no low-income workers would be tortured or exploited in the handling of their purchases."

And that really is what it's all about. Survival of the fittest. People have no room to complain about this while they continue to buy from the cheapest retailer without consideration of how employees are treated.

Do you really care? Or do you just want the lowest price?

Tags: Business, Temporary Employees, Human Rights, Mac McClelland, Undercover, Warehouse