Monday, September 12, 2005

The Friendly Guys in Brown

Because I buy American, I do a lot of shopping on-line and from catalogs. That means the UPS truck is at my house pretty often and I know my postman. Over the past year, I have noticed that the UPS guy no longer brings packages to the front door and rings the bell. In fact, many times I don’t even know that he has been to the house. He leaves packages at my garage door and unless I hear the truck drive away, I don’t find the packages until I go out to get in my car.

This weekend I stumbled across a great website (, created by a UPS driver in Denver, and now I understand the situation better. Apparently UPS has instituted a new computerized system for package loading and delivery routing, and pressure has increased on the drivers to deliver quickly, and that means DON’T TALK TO THE CUSTOMERS! I understand the need for efficiency, but I miss the personal touch and the smile.

I recognized a kindred spirit when I read the webmaster’s “About” page, where he says:

I’m publishing this website because I feel a need to speak up. I believe that the disparity of power between the common man and the corporation is growing larger everyday. The laborer is no longer respected as a key element in society. The middle class is struggling to hold on as the captains of industry ship our father’s good paying jobs overseas to be performed at low wages with no benefits. Part time jobs and contract labor are becoming the norm as blue collar careers disappear. The working man today is no longer seen as an added value to a business, but as an expensive burden. We are thought of as the problem, not the solution.
The website ( is a fascinating “behind the scenes” look at UPS from the drivers’ point of view. It describes the process that is followed when a package is “mis-loaded” (i.e., not on the right truck)—the driver gets to the location, spends time looking through the truck, and can’t find the package. The central facility is notified, and another run is required to get the package delivered.

The site also talks about the stress on drivers of changes in routing and long hours, and points out that low wages paid to pre-loaders may affect the quality of service available to drivers, and ultimately customers. In general, however, the site reinforces my belief that UPS is a good employer, paying good union wages, and offering excellent health benefits.

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