Fulfilment Center Innocence: Intimate Tales of Cybernetic Labor and Racial Desire at the Port of Rotterdam

Fulfilment Center Innocence


Denisse Vega de Santiago


Dutch girls love big, black dick!

It was nearly 3pm, and as usual I was late for my shift. I was walking so rashly to the fulfilment center, that I barely saw the graffiti on the metal plaque of the little wood opening. It read: “Dutch girls love big, black dick!”, followed by an illustrative drawing. Once inside the windowless architecture of the fulfilment center, I put on the industrial shoes, thermal jacket and gloves, and secured the scanner to my arm. As I walked towards the fridges, getting familiar with the loud cheesy music and the smell of fresh vegetables, I saw the director supervising a couple of brown workers who were placing a huge new bright red sign on the back wall of the online supermarket’s chilled area: “Work Hard, Play Hard!” The director, an extremely rich white Dutchman, had become even richer after the Covid-19 lockdowns. The sign was clearly meant to be read by all 400 warehouse workers, mostly brown bodies from Dutch Caribbean colonies, immigrants from Eastern Europe and from other peripheries of the world. As I witnessed this scene, I thought back to the “Dutch [mostly white] girls love big, black [playful] dick!”. Now I get it.


My Zionist ex-lover who tasted like strawberries

Watching him sleep next to her, still naked, she was desperate for him to wake up. There was something she was dying to ask. When he had texted her to have dinner the night before, it had really caught her by surprise. After all, she hadn’t seen or heard from him in seven years, since their brief but passionate affair had ended. Back then, she was a young Mexican immigrant who had just started working at the fulfilment center, and he, an extremely good looking Russian-Dutch security guard. After dinner, to a bar, then her place. Just as they had done seven years ago. As they were making out on her couch, with that same urgent passion as so many years ago, she had noticed something that made her laugh to herself, hoping he wouldn’t notice. All these years, she had thought his lips tasted like strawberries, but now she realized it was the sweet & sour sauce of the bacalao broodjes they had ordered to go just some hours ago at that Suriname’s place. Lol. When he finally opened his eyes, he burrowed into the sheets and looked at her with that charming smile. She smiled back, and almost instantly asked: “Do you still believe Jewish people are smarter than the rest of the world?”. “Google it, it’s true”, he said.


The Robotic Hairy Cow

As the intense sunlight woke her up, she felt her body unusually warm and big, as if she were inside a massive bottarga. Her now hairy arms were well equipped, the same scanner now an intrinsic part of them. Two of her four legs were not entirely hairy but metallic and long, still wearing industrial boots. She recognized the grass she was in — it was next to the industrial boulevard where the fulfilment center was. She had now turned into one of the many hairy cow workers brought to the port of Rotterdam to cut the grass. Her job now was no longer to pick and fill totes with groceries middle-class Rotterdammers had ordered online, but to keep the grass short. Eventually, the robotic hairy cow was given a promotion. She was transferred to a well-known park in Amsterdam-Zuid, where she joined another team of robotic hairy cows. Her primary job now was to prevent white gay Dutchmen from having sexual intercourse in the grass nearby.