During the Holiday Season, many of us are doing what we can to gather gifts for our friends and loved ones. While there are a wide variety of local shopping options available to find gifts on short notice, it’s no secret that many of us will be placing online orders through services such as Amazon. The mammoth company has set itself aside from all its competitors by offering near universal two-day shipping with Amazon Prime Membership at no extra cost. This new method of dedication and customer service has forever changed the way we shop not only for gifts, but increasingly for more basic needs like groceries, cleaning supplies, and furniture. While many of us relax and spend our well-earned time off with our families during these last few weeks of the month, postal delivery drivers are working harder than ever to ensure that your items arrive on time, no matter the weather.
I, your humble writer, spent this December working with UPS as a seasonal helper during the “peak season,” a term used by the postal industry to describe the month of December and sometimes into the first few weeks of January. During this time, the volume of deliveries spikes so high that companies like UPS and FedEx will hire PVD’s (Personal Vehicle Package Drivers), who make deliveries in their own cars, and seasonal helpers to ride along with drivers and assist with their daily routes. While at any given point throughout the year a standard route may entail 150 deliveries in a day, it is not uncommon to see upwards of 300 daily deliveries scheduled during the peak season. This directly translates to a consistently fast pace throughout the day to ensure that every package makes it where it needs to go.
There were a few things I learned during the peak season working hand in hand with an amazing driver who we’ll just call Steve as a placeholder. I got to see firsthand how dedicated he and his colleagues were to their routes, forming long lasting relationships with the people they deliver to. It often felt as though I was walking into a room of lifelong friends catching up after some time away from one another and being the awkward new friend who everyone knows won’t really be around for the long run but treats you nicely despite it all. Toward the end of my time with Steve and his route, I was part of these friendships. I knew many of the people we’d deliver to by name, some of whom would come out to talk with us or even give us Christmas gifts.
Steve and I developed nicknames for the various houses along our route, which we’d call out in increasingly random foreign accents and over-the-top Arnold Schwarzenegger impressions. The number of times I heard or belched out “Blue Door House!” “Fountain House!” “Christmas Lighting House!” “Wreath House!” “Library House!” in a crude Austrian accent is frankly somewhat embarrassing, but something I’ll have fond memories of going forward.
Perhaps the best part about the gig, other than being let in on the bonds that Steve had formed with the people on his route, were the little things. The occasional friendly dog on the route who’d giddily run to greet us and slobber all over my gloves while receiving belly rubs, the music blasting through a JBL wireless speaker in the freezing cabin of the truck as we rattled through the snow, the bundles of drinks and snacks that people would leave on their doorsteps for us that always seemed to come at just the right time.
I learned a lot about what it is to be a delivery driver during the Holiday season, and I’m happy to have gained those experiences. I’m extremely grateful to Steve, who took me under his wing and worked with my clumsiness. By the end of our time together, we were working like a well-oiled machine, and I was having a blast doing it. All this to say, don’t forget about your delivery drivers. While it can be easy to forget when packages show up on your doorstep so quickly these days, there are hundreds and thousands of people out there working long hours every day to make sure it stays that way. They are the real Santa Claus(es).