An NPR member station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

An Amazon Worker's Advice To 2020 Grads: 'Adversity Introduces A Man To Himself'


This week, we're hearing high school graduation messages from frontline workers.

NICK SCHLATZ: Dear class of 2020, my name is Nick Schlatz. Congratulations.

MARTIN: Nick Schlatz works for Amazon, which, by the way, is an NPR sponsor. He processes and ships merchandise from a massive warehouse just outside of Boston. It's what Amazon calls a fulfillment center.

SCHLATZ: This building here is 1.2 million square feet and employs more than 2,000 full-time associates. We process a lot of larger sized items - canoes, rafts, furniture, bikes, ladders. But suddenly, that all started to change, and my team started seeing paper towels, masks, cleaning supplies, disinfectant wipes. That's when I started to realize this was a serious global issue and we were working to help our community stay safe and stay at home. I have roommates that are working from home every day, and I noticed that their routine has come out of place. And that's when it really stood out to me that what I was doing was considered an essential role.

We had a shift one night. We were overstaffed, so the manager who was on shift was asking his associates to go home, see if they wanted to cut out. And the responses he was getting was simply, no, I'm going to stay. I like what I'm doing. I'm making a difference.

Now, there was a quote that I came across in college that really stood out to me. And that quote is adversity introduces a man to himself. That means you really show yourself when there is no plan. That's when you find out who you really are. We weren't ready for this. We weren't expecting this. This is not an ideal situation to be in for anyone, especially you guys as graduates. But look into yourself, look into what you've done, and look to what you're about to do. Those next steps are going to determine the rest of your life. And that starts right now.

Again, graduates at 2020, congratulations. Excellent work.

MARTIN: Nick Schlatz works at an Amazon fulfillment center in Fall River, Mass. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.