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I Wanted a Full-Time Job Delivering Packages for UPS & Then This Happened...

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There was a time in my life when I was going job-to-job and trying to find something that would allow me to save some money, establish credit, and eventually qualify to buy a house. I was sick and tired of burning through rent money…

My best friend's father worked nights at UPS in Watertown (Massachusetts) and he once told me it was the perfect job for him. He recommended I look into working for UPS myself. A few years later, after I got married, I went to Brockton and applied for a job and all they had was a three-week temporary position delivering packages during the Christmas rush.  I figured I'd quit my job, go to work for UPS, impress the fuck out of them, and get hired full-time. That was in 1980.

I became a driver's helper, which meant I rode with a full-time driver and helped him deliver packages. I worked with Ward, a seasoned veteran, and he'd stop the truck and I'd run up to the front door, deliver the package, and sprint back to the truck. Other times he'd drop me off with a container full of packages and I'd run through the neighborhood and deliver them, sometimes eight to ten at a time. When he drove by I'd jump back in the truck and he'd refill the container and I'd do it again, and again, and again…

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Ward and I became fast friends and one day he stopped in front of a house in an upscale neighborhood, handed me a package, and told me to ring the doorbell and get a signature. I ran up to the front door and rang the doorbell and a hairy, middle-aged man came to the door totally bare-ass. I was shocked, but I maintained my composure and handed him the clipboard and asked, "Can you please sign for the package, Sir?". When I got back to the truck and Ward was laughing hysterically, I knew he set me up. As we drove away he told me that guy always came to the door bare-ass. Good to know…

It was December in Massachusetts, wicked cold, and it got dark by 4:00. I worked my ass off. It was a lot like doing wind sprints and I was in good shape and I ran all day trying to impress Ward, who I thought could recommend me for a full-time position. When the Christmas rush was over I was sure I'd be hired, but I wasn't. I was told by Larry in personnel that it took other guys a couple of years of temporary Christmas work before they got hired full-time.  

The next year I quit another job to work as a temporary Christmas helper thinking that after a second year of working my butt off I'd definitely be hired. I was on the same route with the Ward and I kicked ass again. But, when the Christmas rush ended, so did my job…

I moved on and I got a job in New York, but my wife and I weren't thrilled about living to New Jersey. Before I gave notice and moved back home to Massachusetts, I called Larry at UPS and asked him if they needed temporary Christmas help. He said they had a new position, full-time temp. It paid $11 an hour (full-timers were getting $14 plus bennies then) and although I wouldn't be working every day, I'd be working most days. I accepted the position and we moved back to Massachusetts. I became a member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, paying a hefty initiation fee and weekly dues. That was in November of 1983.

Every morning at 6:30 I had to call the big boss, Al, to see if he needed me. Al was a real prick, he never told me to come right in, he'd always tell me that he wasn't sure even if he knew, he was just keeping me on the end of a short leash. He'd say, "Call me back in 15 minutes when I have a better idea what kind of load we have today". I'd sit at my kitchen table in my UPS browns, which I'd ironed sharp creases in the night before, wearing spit-shined Knapp work shoes. I had my lunch packed and I sipped coffee until I made the second call. I was always ready to go.  Most days Al would tell me to come in but when he said he didn't need me, I called Chuck the plumber and he was happy to have me work for him. I'd change into jeans and work boots and head to the job site.

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I started out driving a small UPS truck and doing a residential route with commercial pickups at the end of the day. Al told me that everything I did was recorded and analyzed, that if I wanted to be hired full-time I'd have to earn it by punching out and being underpaid each day based on how miles I drove, how many packages I delivered, how many I picked up, and how long it took me to do it. My goal was to be underpaid every day and I knew if I didn't stop for lunch I could muscle through the day and produce better numbers.

Ward gave me a heads-up on how to deliver fast, telling me to pull over and write up 20 deliveries on the clipboard and then run and deliver them. When I was through, write up 20 more. Those types of deliveries were written up as "DR" (Driver Release) and didn't require a signature. The supervisors wanted us to write up the packages as we walked to the front door, which was really awkward and I never did it that way unless I was being shadowed by a supervisor, which didn't happen often.

There were three of us who were full-time temps in Brockton and we all wanted to become full-time drivers. I busted my butt every day. The full-time drivers joked and called me "The UPS Poster Boy" because of my creased pants, spit-shined shoes, and military haircut. I desperately wanted the job…

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"Hold on, I'll be out in under 3 minutes. I'm taking a UPS shit!"

During the warm weather, I sweated like a pig and by the end of the day, my pants had salt stains across the front, just below my belt line. I was always in such a hurry. I brought two double-decker PB&J's and two large thermoses of ice tea, devouring everything while I drove. I was very direct with the people who had to sign for packages too. I'd interrupt them and stick my clipboard in their face to get their signatures quickly, I couldn't afford to waste any time. I even took what I called a "UPS shit". I knew at one point during the day I'd have to shit and in one of the office buildings on Route One in Norwood, I discovered a seldom-used bathroom up on the second floor that always had plenty of toilet paper, perfect for my UPS shit! I got so used to taking a shit there I'd actually have to squeeze my cheeks to prevent anything from peaking as I approached the building. Once I stopped the truck it was an all-out footrace to the bathroom, which is exactly how I planned it. I wasted very little time. I'd undo my belt on my way up the stairs, drop my draws on my way into the bathroom, sit, shit, wipe, flush, buckle, wash, and go! My UPS shit took under 3 minutes. I didn't want to be overpaid simply because I had to take a shit…

Al knew how badly I wanted the job and that my numbers were best in-house. One afternoon, after a very hard day, he took me aside and told me if I wanted to be full-time I'd have to be able to deliver my 145 stops, do my 25-35 commercial pickups, be back in Brockton, fueled up, truck parked, paperwork complete and punched out by 4:30. I looked at him and we both laughed because he knew that I knew, that was impossible. He was dangling a carrot in front of me and I couldn't resist chasing after it…

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Just like Sandy Koufax, who threw a perfect game against the Cubs on September 9, 1965 (14 Ks)

Every day I tried to do it, but it was impossible. One day, I started to feel like the packages were flying off the truck. I looked in the back and started to believe I could actually do it. It was a lot like the 7th inning of a perfect game, my heart was pounding! I ran harder and drove faster, and I was brutal when I needed a signature. After I delivered all my packages and did my pickups, I realized if I had a quick ride back to Brockton I could pull it off. I was shaking and driving the truck like I stole it. I got back at 4:00, fueled the truck, did my paperwork, and punched out at 4:15…

All the supervisors began talking when I came in to start my paperwork and someone called Al to tell him I had actually done it. As I walked through the warehouse I looked up at Al's office, which was in a well-lit indoor lookout tower. I looked up and at the same time Al looked down, and we made eye contact. He came out and started making his way down the long flight of stairs and as he did he was choking on his own laughter. I started laughing too, wondering what Al was gonna say…

When he was down on the warehouse floor he looked at me and was having trouble speaking because he was still laughing. He managed to say, "You see Vinnie, you can do that every day…" I laughed and I said, "Oh yeah Al, I'd need a football helmet, some shoulder pads, and we'd have to send warnings to everyone on my route…" We both enjoyed some hysterical laughter together, which indicated to me that Al might be human afterall, and then I told him I was exhausted and heading home…

After that I was no longer called "The UPS Poster Boy" and the supervisors started calling me "Vin LeVine, The Delivery Machine". I was sure my herculean efforts had earned me a full-time position. I continued working my butt off but I never tossed another perfect game

On Christmas Eve Day, the supervisors told all the drivers our loads were being lightened so we could be back early on Christmas Eve, and if we had any more than 110 deliveries to call in for help. I got out of the warehouse in a hurry, wrote up 20 deliveries, and took inventory of how many stops I had… 165! There were no cell phones back then so I had to use a phone on the road and that took time. I called several times in the morning, but the lines were busy. I continued delivering, not wanting to fall behind. I called several more times in the afternoon, but I couldn't get through. So, I decided to put it in high gear and deliver all the packages myself. I went like bat out of Hell, but when I got back to Brockton at 7:30 all the lights were out and the front gate was locked. I had my lights on and I started beeping my horn. I wasn't sure what I should do, no one was answering the phone. I considered driving the UPS truck home and leaving my car in the parking lot…

Just when I was ready to head home in the UPS truck, two maintenance guys came out of the building and asked me what I was doing. I told them I just finished my route and I needed to fuel up, complete my paperwork and park the truck. They said everybody was out of the building by 6:00. Peter was my supervisor and I couldn't believe he didn't notice one of his trucks wasn't back when he left the building…

All three full-time temps worked two weeks after Christmas. We knew two of us would be laid off and one would be getting a full-time position. I was sure that would be me. Without any exaggeration, I had become the best driver in the building, because I desperately wanted that job.

Then I got the call from Larry after New Years saying that they had chosen Andy… Andy lived in a three-family in Brockton that was owned by one of the union stewards. Andy was a total fuck-up. Every night I drove him home because he didn't have a car. Most nights I dropped him off at a Brockton dive bar that had a small front door with two small rectangular windows, one on either side of the door, high on the building, with multi-colored, neon beer lights that prevented anyone from seeing in. It looked a little seedy to me, like a private club where nothing good happened, and I never accepted Andy's offer to go in and have a beer with him. I stopped on the way home and grabbed two Miller tall cans out of a round ice-filled cooler at a local package store. That was all I needed to unwind and get me home.

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Every morning when Andy came in he was still fucked-up and when he took off in his UPS truck he'd regularly forget to lock his rear door and it would swing open and spew packages all over the road. I was usually behind him and I'd pick up his packages and chase him down. During the busy season, I drove a big UPS truck and Andy drove a Ryder rental truck which lined up perfectly with the shipping docks. His route was all commercial and he used to boast that he'd open his back door and guys would drive forklifts into his Ryder truck and remove entire skids. So, while I was delivering packages by hand Andy watched hundreds of packages go in and out of his truck without ever touching them. It was an easy-peasy route and he always looked decent on paper…

I was pissed that Andy got the job. I called Chuck the plumber and told him I wanted to work full-time and he hired me immediately. A month later, Larry called and offered me another full-time temp job, but I told him how disappointed I was that after working as hard as I did for three years, I wasn't hired full-time. I told him that I made a decision to become a licensed plumber instead…

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My wife and I moved from Stoughton to Easton but we still did our laundry at a Laundromat in Stoughton Center which was right next door to our favorite sub shop where we ate supper while our laundry was in the machines. One night, six months after leaving UPS, we walked in and there was Andy doing his laundry. I congratulated him on getting the job and he immediately told me he quit. He said, "You know, UPS burnout. Fuck that job!"

I couldn't believe it, I wanted that job so bad and Andy quit after only six months. When I got home I called Ward and he said Andy didn't quit… Apparently, Andy was tossing boxes full of stereo equipment into the woods for his friends to grab and then writing them up as missing packages. UPS had a ton of security, some uniformed security guards, some who dressed as UPS employees, and others who worked undercover. They followed him, videotaped him, and then brought him into a room and played the video. They gave him two options, resign or be criminally prosecuted. He resigned.

A short time after that, UPS broke ground on another facility in Norwood, but by then I had a bad taste in my mouth and I was getting close to testing for my journeyman plumber's license and so I was no longer interested in package delivery…

Whenever I see a UPS truck or take a delivery at my house, I'm reminded of the time when I delivered packages for UPS and the supervisors called me "Vin LeVine, The Delivery Machine"… (but you can call me Vindog)