I'm a UPS driver. I'm paid well and like the solitude, but management still makes me want to quit most days.
- Insider recently spoke to a longtime
UPSdriver about their job. They requested anonymity to protect it.
- The driver said the job has its perks — solitude, pay, and sometimes scenic routes — but can also be unpredictable.
This as-told-to essay is based on a transcribed conversation with a longtime UPS driver. They spoke on condition of anonymity to protect their job, but their employment has been verified by Insider. The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
The delivery job itself is an ideal fit for me because I tend to be a loner
With the exception of the 20 minutes in the morning when I'm inside the building to pick up my truck filled to the brim with packages, I'm on my own all day without any supervisors or co-workers, and that's how I prefer it.
Seniority, which is solely based on your start date, is literally everything to drivers. As a member of the Teamster's union and a full-time driver averaging a 50-hour workweek, I gained enough seniority last year to bid on and win a dedicated route, which is a pretty big deal.
I have the same route, vehicle, and truck loader every day
Having the same route every day — instead of picking up routes as they're available — makes a major difference as far as quality of life goes.
A route only becomes available when a driver retires, gets fired or transitions to the tractor-trailer division, so they're hard to come by. When one does open up, management posts a physical notice outlining all the route details and it stays posted in the office for two weeks.
During that time, drivers are able to bid on the route by adding their name and seniority date to the list. The person with the most seniority automatically wins.
After two weeks, the driver with the most seniority is offered that particular route which they have the right to accept or deny. If they turn it down, it goes to the next person in line in terms of seniority. If they accept and they already have a dedicated route, then their route opens up and bids are taken on that route. At times, it's like a domino effect and can affect multiple drivers and routes.
Bidding on a route is a huge decision. If you bid on one and accept it and wind up hating it, you could be stuck on it for years. I even declined some routes before finally bidding on the one I have.
Like most UPS drivers, I was a 'cover' driver before I locked in a regular route
Being a cover driver meant I would show up for my shift and pretty much be at the mercy of management, who would assign me a different route and truck every single day. It's kind of an unnerving experience, because it's like starting from scratch each morning and working out of someone else's workspace.
My route involves a lot more driving than actual delivering, which suits me just fine because I enjoy driving. On average, I drive around 125 miles a day and deliver 225 or more packages.
Most days, I brown-bag it and spend my lunch hour eating inside my truck. But since my route takes me along the Atlantic Ocean during the warmer months, I pack my swim trunks and hit the beach, which is a great way to break up an otherwise monotonous workday. It's one of the primary reasons I wanted this route in the first place.
But even with a regular route, there's no telling when your workday will end
Until you get to work, you don't have any idea how many stops you'll have or what traffic conditions will be like.
Every morning when I leave the house, my wife asks what time I'll be home. All I can do is shrug my shoulders because it's definitely not a 9-to-5 job. Some days you can get everything done in nine hours; other times it can take 14 hours. That kind of inconsistency makes it difficult to have a life outside of work, especially when you have a family like I do.
For the most part, I enjoy my work and get paid well
It's an hourly position with overtime kicking in after eight hours on the job. We get paid time off, medical benefits, and a pension, which one day I hope to be able to retire on. But when it comes to management, I'm pretty bitter.
For example, despite our contract stipulating that we are entitled to sick and personal days — as well as bereavement time — trying to take it is a whole other story.
I've been grilled and made to feel guilty about taking off the very time I earn, and I'm not the only one who has experienced this. There's always pushback because if there aren't enough drivers, it means a supervisor or manager would have to cover the route, which is the absolute last thing they want to do.
If it wasn't for the union, this job wouldn't be worth it
While the day-to-day hassles can be frustrating, there's way more serious stuff. For example, our local union recently won a class-action suit against UPS. The lawsuit centered on UPS routinely deducting money from 6,000 employee paychecks without their consent and donating the funds to the United Way to pad the company's charitable giving.
We won a $1.3 million settlement in the lawsuit, and UPS agreed to refund the money along with a 40% penalty.
There's been a lot of talk in the news about unfair practices and treatment of Amazon and FedEx drivers, and I speak from personal experience when I say UPS is no better. Somehow, they just do a better job keeping it under wraps. Although it's years away, every day I countdown how many I have left until I can get the hell out.
Drivers are the reason UPS is able to run, and sometimes our bosses forget that. We show up every day to deliver packages and make people happy — well, most people.
For some spouses, they see us pulling up their driveway and their mind immediately starts racing to try and calculate how much whatever is in the box is going to cost them.
Are you a UPS driver with an interesting story? Contact Alanis King at email@example.com.
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