On the Front Lines of Holiday Shopping

One of the world’s largest delivery services, UPS has their army of workers in full force for this holiday season.

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MICHAEL BROCHSTEIN/SOPA IMAGES/SHUTTERSTOCK

During their busiest season, UPS relies on dedicated workers to dispatch gifts all across the world.

Kara Mihm, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Santa’s helpers might not always be two feet tall and robed in green and red. In fact, many are a little taller, wearing brown button-ups and slacks, too.

UPS is in its holiday peak, wrangling up its largest fleet of ground vehicles, alongside Santa and his reindeer. With the holidays now in full swing, the job is not for the weary. Rising with the sun, a normal day for workers consists of arriving to their hub at 8:00-9:00 am and remaining attentive to delivery schedules until 6:00-7:00 pm.

But the rush of the holiday season is different, so different that some workers discard their lunch break so that they can gain an additional hour of work, ensuring that packages are securely and efficiently brought to every doorstep across the country. 

“Upon arrival, we punch in on our computers, grab our DIAD board (this is what tells us what is in the truck for delivery), meet with other drivers to discuss safety, and then get into our UPS truck to start delivering packages,” UPS driver Michael Sanfilippo said in an interview with The Uproar.

Anticipating a peak in online commerce during the 2021 holidays, UPS has prepared for the influx of service. According to CNBC, UPS aimed to hire 12,000 workers for this season alone.

EMarketer estimates that consumers will spend a whopping $212 billion on holidays gifts by the end of the year. Forget your own lengthy list of friends and family, UPS’s list  of destinations ranges more than 220 countries and territories worldwide. Talk about hectic.

“The drivers must go through a week-long training course to develop their driving and awareness skills to protect pedestrians and other vehicles on the road,””

— Michael Sanfilippo, UPS driver

It’s accurate to say that nothing would be possible without UPS’s army of workers. Although it might seem that anyone could take up the job, think again. Dodging aggressive pets, maneuvering through narrow driveways, racing against the clock for delivery times — how do they prepare for it?

For Sanfilippo, a decades-long employee for UPS, the holidays stand as a testament to personal dedication.

“I first got started when I was 19 years old, unloading packages from a truck,” Sanfilippo said. “The young drivers seem to enjoy it because they have more physical ability than the older drivers.”

The tight turnaround for gifts leaves workers quickly jumping in and out of their trucks. Hauling boxes — sometimes a quarter to half their weight — serves as a tiresome undertaking. To stay on time, drivers must make 15-24 stops an hour.

“This job is very demanding and requires personal dedication. The drivers must go through a week-long training course to develop their driving and awareness skills to protect pedestrians and other vehicles on the road,” Sanfilippo revealed. “This training is very intense. Not only do you learn how to drive the vehicle, it also teaches you defensive driving.”

At this time in the season, routes have increased by 25%. Whether this is due to factors such as unpredictable weather or increased traffic due to traveling, the result of these variables is simple: additional routes ensure that packages arrive before the holidays. 

Though delivery days are long and often cold, the workers who put their best effort into supplying our holiday needs deserve our gratitude. So when you hear the ring of the doorbell, signaling a package arrival, stick your head out and offer a quick thanks. If you wish to do even more, here are five ways to show your appreciation to your delivery driver this holiday season.