10,000 steps: One package at a time (#1)

I’ve taken a seasonal job with UPS as “Driver Helper”. I’ve had several temporary and seasonal jobs in my travels, but this one is different. First, it’s in my “home” territory and second, yoga pants and sweatshirts are acceptable attire. I knew if I was going to work for a pittance over the Christmas holiday, dealing with customers in a retail environment would not be ideal for my mental health. UPS offers a great way to be helpful (it’s right there in the title of the job!), leaves my mornings free to do creative or research work best accomplished in the wee dawn hours, and best of all, I don’t have to wear a name-tag!!

I’ve posted a few anecdotes on social media, but thought I’d share an anthology of UPS Driver’s Helper Observations over the next week leading up to Christmas. This is part one. You can start anywhere. Most days are the same as the last one. If you are inspired to leave a candy cane or bottle of juice out for your driver…well, THANKS!!

imag1388We inch down the street looking for the next house. It gets tough this time of year, too many decorations covering the numbers. Finally spotting 3310, Allen stops the truck just so – not blocking any driveways, but also making sure I don’t step off into a gutter or get my eye poked out by a tree. I’ve already lost count of our stops today. The numbers rarely mean anything to me. “24 stops left”, he’ll say, but that could be 24 stops with 10 packages each all in a tight neighborhood, or 24 stops spread all over South Scales road with long winding driveways. I step down from the jump seat and out of the truck, waiting beside the door while Allen scans the package. It’s a light one, this time. I take it from him and turn, using the driveway because this house has a land-mind yard. I learned the hard way the last time we stopped here. Sometimes you can guess a yard will be dangerous to walk in, food bowls by the porch, a leash staked out, not much grass. This house surprised me. Nice neighborhood, well-kept shrubs and a tidy front porch. But there it was, the telltale dog lead staked out by the steps and thousands of pieces of dog shit spread throughout the manicured lawn like little mines waiting to explode. I ring the bell and drop the package and make my way back to the truck. 28 steps from door to door.

School has let out for the day. We turn into a neighborhood within walking distance from the school and where the bus simply drops off at the entrance. Kids are stretched out over a few blocks, every one of them holding a gadget and wearing earbuds. Oblivious to the world around them. Wait, there’s a couple, holding hands and laughing. Ahead of them a group walks together but separately. As we turn down a cul-de-sac, a girl with blond hair walks just a few paces ahead of an awkward boy. She peels off into the house we’ve pulled up to. The awkward kid is her neighbor. They never spoke. She never heard us pull up and I have to walk to the top of her driveway and ring the bell for her to sign for a package. 15 steps from door to door.

It gets to the end of the work day – for you, not for us. We navigate the streets even more carefully as you come home from work on autopilot, rolling through stop signs, speeding into driveways. The utility guys are anxious to wrap up their day, too. So is the mail lady. The kids have all disappeared inside. The fancy lighted basketball hoop with the deluxe ball return sits unused directly in your walkway. I traipse through the soppy grass to go around it and up to your front door. When I get there, the doorbell is broken. A shell of lighted plastic with exposed wires. I opt to knock. 32 steps from door to door.

…more steps to come…

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