Today I received an aptly titled email “Order Not Picked Up” from the Amazon Flex “Team”. Without even opening it, my heart began to race. I had already heard horror stories from other drivers online. But, I told myself, you are a good driver. You arrive on time, follow all the rules, and do everything you are told. YOU aren’t one of those bad drivers that forfeit late or fight with support. You are one of the good ones. They will see that and understand. This has to be a mistake. I knew I had never not picked up a route or order assigned to me. My app had been experiencing several glitches over the weekend. Removing stops after I had “acknowledged and begun”. It had even removed stops after I started scanning bags at Whole Foods and reassigned them to another driver. It had gotten so bad that weekend, shoppers at my location asked if I could please call support to find out what was happening. Over and over again the app was glitching and routes were being reassigned. My ambiguous email went on to say that there was no need to contact support but if this happened again my participation in the Amazon Flex program would be affected. Wait. I could be fired for their app glitching? A situation I have no control over ever happening again? Were they serious? I had to respond. I spent the next 30 minutes writing and rewriting my response. It had to be perfect. I needed to explain what happened. Clearly and concisely. Without snark or sarcasm. No accusing language or HOW CAN YOU BE SO STUPID attitude. Finally I hit send. And waited. I just knew they would understand. That smart person at the other end of those emails would read it and know. I would be getting back a “thank you for bringing this to our attention” email at any moment. Then it came. The canned response an automated drone named Arjun gives. “Hello, as we wrote in our previous message…” except this one was more…accusatory and, well, rude. A response you could tell that did not involve reading or looking into it or quite frankly, empathy. As if those on the other end of the email drew their power from absorbing the frantic stress these messages bring. Knowing they aren’t true but ensnaring their victims in an endless loop of programmed responses and false accusations regardless. Feasting on the souls of drivers who need this job. Who have no choice but to lay themselves down at the mercy of this machine. And those people at the other end know with one click, they can take it all away. Okay okay. Maybe I didn’t provide enough proof. So, this time, I know, I’ll send pictures! Photographic proof of what happened. Then they’ll understand. “Hello, as we wrote in our previous message…”. Ramesh, you too have let me down. I spent the next hour crying. I can’t lose this job. Like many Americans I can barely make ends meet. Living paycheck to paycheck and subsidizing my income with Amazon Flex, toiling my way through life to stay off food stamps. I’m living in fear now. Fear of being deactivated. Fear of losing my only additional form of income that is barely keeping my family afloat. I had done everything right. Everything they had asked of me. Now I’m being thrown to the side and discarded like garbage. There had to be something I could do to fight back. I know my worth and I hope you know your worth too. Stand up. Fight back. Welcome to Amazon Flex Sucks.