Today was my third day working as a driver's helper for UPS. It is going pretty well and I am definitely getting a good workout.
They matched me up with the driver that works my neighborhood. He actually picks me up at my house in the morning and drops me off in the evening. Nice commute. Paul has been working for UPS for about 15 years, and has been on this route for the last three. We get along pretty well and he has been impressed with me so far.
From what I can tell, his route covers about a 25 by 25 block territory. Our serpentine route is a bit confusing so far. It is an odd feeling to be so turned around a mile away from your own house. Part of the reason for the odd route is that UPS "avoids left turns to save fuel, reduce emissions, and improve safety". UPS micromanages in many other ways to achieve small efficiencies that add up to savings of time and money. Just saving 10 seconds on each package really adds up over the course of a day.
It is also a bit surprising how many packages are delivered to a relatively small area. Many of the stops are regular customers. Outside of the holidays, 80% of the deliveries each day go to about 20% of the addresses in the neighborhood. Paul knows my neighborhood like no other. Of course he knows where all the aggressive dogs are, but he knows lots of little details about the people too.
My day is pretty fast-paced. I run most of the packages as Paul organizes and scans the next ones to be delivered. Everything of course is tracked. The board he carries has all the packages to be delivered loaded in its memory and we scan them and check them off one by one. The board is also a cell phone and GPS so it uploads our progress regularly, sends tracking numbers and signatures to the website, and also receives messages if there are last minute changes. It sounds like there are even more high-tech tracking methods on the way.
There are lots of "flag lots" or "easement lots" where there are several houses set back from the street off of a long driveway. This means extra running, but I am also seeing houses I've never seen even on my regular runs around the neighborhood. Unfortunately, my ankles are bothering me right now, so I'm not doing any additional running outside of work. I wish I could wear my running shoes at work. This would probably solve my ankle problem.
A little surprise on today's route - I delivered a package to the people who owned our house before us. I had heard that they had stayed in the area, but I never bothered to track them down. And one last tidbit - invest in QVC. They are doing some brisk business, making up about 10% of our deliveries.