First day and all the unknowns. What will my driver be like? As friendly and as beaming as a driver cast and scripted in a logistics commercial? How many 70 pound boxes can I really lift? The answer is a big fat zero. Will my knees and elbow handle climbing on and off the truck? Not if I bounced in and out like a twenty-something. Will I know where to put the packages? In a protected out of street view site. Will I get car sick? Could happen. Yes, I was a little nervous about my seasonal job with UPS.
I grew up in Gansevoort, but never been to McGregor Links. The golf course on Northern Pines Road was the spot where I was to rendezvous with my driver. He pulled up at 1:15 and asked if I was waiting for him. “Yes, I’m Valerie”, and extended my hand. Instead, he jumped out of his seat, slid the cargo door open and grabbed my uniform off one of the metal shelves. “Here. Put this on in the back." The metal door clanged behind me, automatically locking me in the cavernous volume of the big brown truck.
One thin and well worn pair of pants. Holes worn in the pocket where the previous owner kept his wallet. He was bigger with a 31 inch waist. The extra three inches I gathered in using the belt from my jeans. No gang banging look for UPS professionals. No shirts are issued to the seasonable help. It’s November in upstate New York. The winter jacket would cover any shirt. But an unseasonable and late Indian summer pushed the temperature to 70 degrees. I stripped down to my t-shirt and donned the pullover. There wasn’t a mirror to see if I looked like I felt. The Michelin Man. A brown fat Michelin man. I was going to die in the jacket. I yelled through the door and the driver released me from cargo.
Underway. The driver asked, "Ever work as a helper before?"
“No” My voice sailed out the open doors. Mailboxes, trees and houses rushed by. I gripped my jump seat.
"I hand you the package. Point to the house. You take it straight to the door. Just leave it. Don't bother to announce UPS or knock. Just get back to the truck. When you’re buckled in we go to the next stop." I’m sure this was not the way it was done on the training video. Two minutes later, I ran off to my first house. He warned, "Oh, yeah dogs. Don't step on any land mines."
While I delivered packages in the mazed developments behind the golf course, he rooted around for packages, pre-staging upcoming stops. I returned to hear him cussing at the inability of the loaders to arrange the packages correctly. He couldn’t find the next package and finally gave up. He was hot throwing out the f-bomb as we got underway. I just sat there. I wondered if this guy was the jerk one helper talked about in training. "He went through ten helpers. Nobody could work with him." Oh, boy.
I figured I just do what I could do to make each stop quick. I jogged truck to door and back. (Mental note. No more 4 miles walk before work.) To anticipate the next stop, I read the address label and searched for the house so my driver didn’t have to tell me which house. He still pointed and said, “leave it by the red door.” (You know how many houses have red doors?)
After the first hour we were flying down Northern Pines when he said, “I should have went to college.”
“I did. I’m here.”
“By the way, I’m Greg.”
I reintroduced myself. I must have been making a favorable impression. I was thirsty and very sweaty. My hair totally tangled. My eyes watery due to blast of air swirling about the cab. And my fingers numb from hanging onto my jump seat for dear life.
“Don’t worry. I won’t kill you,” Greg said.
“Thanks.” I grinned, but did not relax my grip.
I never tell people I live in Gansevoort. No one outside the Capital District has ever heard of it. I realized my dinky rural town with its Dutch heritage has grown in the past 50 years. We hit houses and places I never knew existed. Yet, we flew by familiar houses tucked between developments I had never entered. I saw people I knew raking leaves, walking dogs, picking up their mail. We delivered one package to a guy whom with I had gone to kindergarten. Two hours later, my test run was done. Greg dropped me off at my Jeep and said thank you. He still had packages left, but my assigned time was over.
That’s how we roll in logistics.