I’ve been a UPS driver for almost a decade. Having the same routine every day is soothing, and I love that no one tells me what to do.

I’ve been a UPS driver for almost a decade.  Having the same routine every day is soothing, and I love that no one tells me what to do.
I’ve been a UPS driver for almost a decade.  Having the same routine every day is soothing, and I love that no one tells me what to do.
An empty UPS truck in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

A UPS truck in Santa Fe, New Mexico.Robert Alexander/Getty Images

  • Insider recently spoke to a UPS driver about their daily routine and how they got the job.

  • They said they love being by themselves during the workday, and having the same routine.

  • “There’s something very soothing to me about knowing my route so well,” they said. “I feel safe.”

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with a UPS driver. They asked not to be named to protect their job, but their employment has been confirmed by Insider. The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

I’ve spent nine years driving for UPS, and most of the time, I really like it. Other people might get bored doing the same thing and being alone for 10 hours every day, but that’s what I like most about it.

When I started at UPS, I had to prove I could drive stick-shift

Then I had to go through extensive safety training, and it was grueling. The rules include things like “make sure they see you,” referring to pedestrians and other drivers, and “complete the three L’s” (left signal, left mirror, and left shoulder). Once you got through that, you got to start driving.

Back when I started, there wasn’t a GPS system like they have now, so we actually had to take paper maps and map out our routes with them. The more you drove a route, the better you could remember it and the less paper you needed.

I had a pretty typical experience of getting hired at UPS

I worked for three months, then there was a hiring freeze in October of that calendar year. There wasn’t any work for drivers who weren’t already hired, so I came back for the winter season.

Once I proved myself in the winter season, I was hired. I’m an hourly worker, but I get benefits and a pension thanks to our union, which really goes to bat for us.

There’s a lot of pressure to be on time

We have next-day air service. It guarantees your package will be delivered by 10:30 am, which can get really complex for drivers. If you have a ton of air-service packages, it can be hard to make sure you get that done in the first hour or two of your shift.

There’s also the stress of knowing how to drive a vehicle that big, like where you’re allowed to park it and how to be safe around pedestrians (especially kids).

We aren’t allowed to drive more than 14 hours per day

It’s because of a Department of Transportation law, but we usually don’t have to bump up against that limit.

On normal days, I drive about 10 hours. It was a lot different during the height of the pandemic, when everyone was in “click and buy mode” and buying everything online because they were scared to go into stores and potentially get exposed to the virus.

Back then, myself and many other drivers were working 14 hours per day for almost an entire year.

For the 10 hours a day I’m working, I’m by myself and I love it

No one’s telling me what to do. I don’t have to listen to anyone. I know what I have to get done, and I’m trusted to go do my job.

Sometimes, I listen to sports talk radio or golf podcasts or even union podcasts. But I always make sure I can hear any sounds from traffic or pedestrians.

I enjoy having the same routine every day

There’s something very soothing to me about knowing my route so well. I drive it the same way every day, and I know what to expect. I feel safe.

I know other drivers like switching it up to keep things interesting, but that doesn’t appeal to me. I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing something I didn’t already know.

I bring my lunch every day, because I’m pretty dedicated to health and fitness. If I didn’t bring my lunch, I worry I’d end up eating pizza or McDonald’s every day, which would be unhealthy and expensive.

One of the nice things about my job is getting to know the people on my route

The more you do the same route, the more you get to know the people, their kids, and their lives. If you take the time to say hello to people and parents who can trust you to drive safely and slowly through their neighborhoods, they’re very kind.

Sometimes, there will be kids waiting for me on my route because they know I’m coming and they just want to say hi. I know some delivery drivers had a hard time after that terrible case of the FedEx contract driver murdering a young girl, but I never felt like anyone looked at me strangely because they knew me.

Although I like driving for UPS, it’s not perfect

The company is always preaching safety and saying that’s the most important thing, but then some managers will pressure drivers to get more deliveries completed than can be done safely in a given time.

To that end, I just want to say: What about safety? If that’s what you’re most worried about, let us do our jobs the way we can do it safely.

Thankfully, our union has our back (and is even prepared to strike this summer) but it can be hard to feel pressure from management.

I do wish that customers knew we were doing our best

There’s always a reason for the decisions we make. For example, people get upset when we block their driveway during a delivery, which I totally understand. But we were trained to never enter a driveway with our vehicle, so sometimes, blocking it momentarily is the best bet.

I will say this: We were always told during training that the UPS uniform is sacred. When people see the brown khakis and the golden shield and UPS emblem, they trust you. I work hard to earn that trust.

Editor’s note: Matthew O’Connor, director of media relations at UPS, provided this statement: Safety is our top priority. UPS delivery drivers are trained to follow the company’s methods, which are practical steps that help them move safely and efficiently throughout their workday. Two examples are organizing their delivery vehicles so packages are within an arm’s reach at each stop, and briskly walking to make deliveries.

We also use technology to plan each driver’s daily route, which includes directions and updates through their handheld device (DIAD). Factors that are considered include the geographic area, number of business and residential deliveries, and time commitments for deliveries and pick-ups. If one of our drivers is not able to safely complete all of their deliveries, we work with them to make sure they have the support they need.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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