Jobs I’ve had: UPS seasonal driver helper

This is one of a series of posts about jobs I’ve had during my time on this planet. You can read more posts by clicking the “jobs i’ve had” tag, and read a lengthier intro to the series in the first post.

I had hoped the temp agency would find me more mindless work, but it didn’t. So I spent a few months sending out resumés with no luck, and then took a job as a UPS seasonal driver helper as much to get out of the house as I did to make any money, since it didn’t pay much.

The job was simple: deliver packages to people’s doors to take some of the strain off the driver since there was a much higher volume of packages at this time of year. If there was anything remotely complicated about a package delivery, like needing to get a signature, the driver did it himself. It was the definition of mindless work. I never got to play with the DIAD, the magical electronic clipboard-looking device every driver carries that seems to keep UPS’ entire worldwide operation running.

Since I didn’t care if I got fired from this job, I blogged extensively about it, as it was happening.

My time was spent working with two drivers: a skinny, surly, cussing, chain-smoking redneck whose skin looked like beef jerky; and a socially awkward slob who frequently made inappropriate remarks. I mostly had fun working with the first guy, but not so much with the second guy.

In just a week or two working with the second guy, he managed to explode a fire extinguisher, get his truck stuck in a trench, and cost me and someone else a whole day of wages because he called the wrong person. The cab of his truck was full of apple cores and squalor, enough so that I felt compelled to make a diagram later:

2004 12 14 dash marked Jobs Ive had: UPS seasonal driver helper

But what beats all were some of the awkward remarks he made. He talked politics in a confrontational way, oblivious of how much tension it would have caused had I happened to disagree with his beliefs. That this guy voted for Kerry maybe should have made me reexamine my own beliefs. But here’s my favorite story he told me:

At some point we were talking about Asian women versus Brazilian women versus Italian women. God knows how I let that continue past one sentence. Anyway, he felt a need to defend the fact that he’s 45 years old and has never been married, which I didn’t know and hadn’t given a second thought about until that point. Even better, he said he’d been dating a girl for about a year and that “things got real intimate, real early.” Like I didn’t hear him the first time, he repeats, “real intimate.”

Customers were funny and weird.

One was a sexy senior citizen, which in retrospect is more awesome than weird to me, but I guess I was a little more prudish in some ways at the time. When she answered the door, she was wearing a penis amulet and broke out into song.

Another had an unhealthy addiction to QVC. No joke, every day I rode with the first driver we delivered a package from QVC to her.

But my favorite thing I did during that time was to snap a photo with my cell phone camera anytime someone had a steep driveway. Rich people with long, steep driveways were the bane of my existence during those weeks. I posted the photos to my blog under a series of posts called “Your Driveway Sucks.” They looked like this:

2004 12 02 driveway3 Jobs Ive had: UPS seasonal driver helper

Amber started reading my blog about this time and later told me she was intrigued, asking herself, “who is this guy who keeps posting photos of people’s driveways?”

See also: Amber’s time as an HTMLer for an Internet startup and as an office worker for the Humane Society.

7 thoughts on “Jobs I’ve had: UPS seasonal driver helper

  1. I work at ups fir seasonel driver helper too and the guys I have worked with.. WEIRD AS SHIT! The first one has several DWIs and the second one sits in his truck and screams at me from across the street

  2. Mike, I had the SAME EXACT experience as you. First driver was a laid back chain smoker with many dwis and the second one was a ups nazi that was all about getting things done as quick as possible and would scream at me all the time. So embarrassing when im dealing with a customer and all you hear is some guy yelling at me from the truck. The second driver also made me run up to 90% of the houses and businesses while he sorted in the warm truck and yelled…

  3. I agree with mike and dave I got called last year in ups more than this year. I got called only twice and the driver said I did not get a satisfactory result to him. I am very disappointed

  4. I am doing driver helper now. It is mindless and exactly how you describe it. Being a recent grad whose rejected from real jobs and an avid runner who wanted to get paid for exercise this position is exactly what I wanted. No thought or analysis is needed to do your job well; just an extra pair of socks. I’m working with my friend who is the driver and we have a blast slingin parcels all day blasting dubstep and rap in a rural redneck town.

  5. I’m surprise that the guy I worked with was never brought up on a sexual harrassment charge. He made working with him very uncomfortable with all his sexual stories and come ons. Another one used to smoke in the truck. I don’t smoke so that was awful. I forgot the the harrasser would not take lunch but put me down as taking an hour lunch.

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