He went from working in a luxury spa to an Amazon warehouse: NPR

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Theodore Johnson worked full time as a massage therapist at a luxury hotel in Texas. When the coronavirus crisis hit, he tried to find unemployment, but the system was overloaded. This sent him to an Amazon warehouse, where he now works.

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Theodore Johnson worked full time as a massage therapist at a luxury hotel in Texas. When the coronavirus crisis hit, he tried to find unemployment, but the system was overloaded. This sent him to an Amazon warehouse, where he now works.

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Until recently, Theodore Johnson worked as a massage therapist at a luxury spa hotel in Fort Worth, Texas.

He worked about 30 hours a week but was an entrepreneur. Johnson therefore lobbied management for an employee position to qualify for benefits. This possibility disappeared when the coronavirus struck and all of its work dried up.

Johnson quickly decided to apply for unemployment. It didn’t go well.

“I couldn’t get in touch with the Texas Workforce Commission, and I didn’t know if I was qualified. It was just chaos. The website was crashing. You literally just had a busy tone when you called the numbers, “he said. “So I was in this limbo state and I didn’t know how I was going to pay my bills. “

It was then that Johnson joined the nearby Amazon warehouse and ended up working the night fill boxes.

Amazon’s hourly wages are far below what he earned as a massage therapist. But he earns roughly the same weekly salary by working much longer. He finally got what he didn’t have at the hotel spa: health insurance.

“I have been working for almost 60 hours [per week], and this is the ceiling, “he says. “It’s a lot of squatting. … This is a difficult work. “

He plans to stay a while with Amazon’s work and reassesses his career path by taking classes at his local community college.

He said that a massage could be one of the last things on people’s minds right now, “because we are in a recession and maybe in depression. “

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