REDMOND -- This year, UPS expects to deliver more than 630 million packages between Thanksgiving and December 31st. I wanted to know what it's really like to work one of those routes, and the folks at UPS were kind enough to let me do a bit of a job shadow!
First, the facts: This year, Tuesday December 21st is the anticipated peak day, with UPS delivering an estimated 36 million packages just on that day alone. With all of that extra volume, UPS hires about 90,000 seasonal workers. Typically they work as driver helpers or package handlers (sorting, loading, and unloading in the warehouse).
So- what does it take to work for UPS? We rode along with Michael Vallimont, who's been with the company for most of the last 20 years. He took me through a typical day, and explained how the volumes change on their routes this time of year. A couple of things we learned:
- You have to be able to handle 70 pounds on your own (the weight limit goes up to 150)
- It's a physically demanding job. Michael says they consider themselves "industrial athletes", and from what I experienced, it makes perfect sense. It's a lot of walking, moving, lifting and driving, all in a day's work. In fact, they gather for group stretching at the beginning of every day to try and warm up.
- Drivers are able to "bid" on routes they would like permanently. This can help them to build a relationship with regular customers.
- On a typical, non-holiday day, Michael estimates he delivers close to 300 packages at 200 stops. He estimates that number doubles, or even more than doubles, during the holiday rush.
- Packages are assigned numbers in the warehouse; these numbers determine where they are loaded into a truck, which is done based on order of stops in a route. It's all very organized!
- Safety is important. Michael says keeping an eye out for traffic while getting in and out of the truck is very important, as is keeping "three points of contact" while getting in and out of the truck. Before you laugh and think, "well that seems like a no-brainer," keep in mind these were the most challenging for me on my day with him! Or maybe that just says something about me.
Watch the clip to see how it went!