Working Man

I must start out here by admitting that, by any objective measurement, when it comes to being a productive member of society, I haven’t been “giving it my all.” First off, I’m not exactly sure how to calculate “my all.” I don’t want to run the risk of giving too much and not having any for later. But on the other hand I don’t want to be stingy and only contribute half of what I am capable of producing. And now that I think of it, who exactly do I give “it” to once it’s ready? Can I do it on the web? Despite all of these legitimate questions, I actually got up, put on “going outside” clothes, and found myself a job.

Everyone who follows my web site knows that I have spent a considerable amount of time writing about various aspects of my life. Most of these aspects revolve– either directly or indirectly– around my continual unemployment. With the exception of doing some web design consulting work, I have been unemployed for a period of almost two years. While I like to recognize the effort I put into writing as “making the world a better place,” the general goodwill I generate can not be converted into more tangible concepts such as “rent” or “biweekly excursions to Taco Bell.” Perhaps if my marketing skills were as finely honed as my ability to surf the Internet I would be able to make a living through my writing.

Not that I’m giving up on my dreams (especially the one about building a time machine to travel back to the 1960’s so I can replace Larry Hagman in the “I Dream of Jeanie” situation comedy), but I have come to realize that having a job is a great way of keeping myself busy until my writing career skyrockets. While being a world-famous writer first would have been a lot easier for me on several levels, I recently started working part-time at UPS.

On September 25, 2002, I started working at the UPS sorting facility in Loveland, Colorado. Each morning I wake up at 3:30, get dressed, and drive to work. Yes, that is 3:30 A.M. Once I get there, I help load delivery trucks with packages. Not exactly rocket science, but there are a lot of challenges.

I had some difficulty adjusting to the physical nature of my job. Before working at UPS, I generally slept in my bed from 3:30 to nine in the morning. The most intense function my body was responsible for was to breathe in and out and produce a constant supply of drool for my pillow. I would hardly ever lift heavy boxes during this time. Now that I am working five days a week I move somewhere in the neighborhood of 600 boxes of various sizes and weights from a moving conveyor belt into two different delivery trucks. When I first started, it was a lot of work. It still is, but after a few weeks I don’t feel as though I will die of exhaustion at the end of each four-hour shift.

The other aspect of my job is to make sure that only certain boxes get loaded into the delivery trucks. While my job would be considerably easier if I could just take random packages from the belt and load them haphazardly, it turns out this would create much more work for the drivers. So not only do I have to get very specific packages into the trucks, I have to load them in very specific spots. As if that wasn’t enough, there are also rules about how to load packages in general. If there is a box marked “Glass– FRAGILE” I have to be very careful about what NOT to place on top– like an anvil, for example.

Yes, I said anvil. No, I’m not kidding. UPS will ship just about anything that weighs less than 150 pounds and isn’t very radioactive. In addition to the aforementioned metalworking equipment, I have loaded a variety of large and cumbersome objects. Tractor tires, large pieces of metal, and countless spools of various wires get shipped every day. One day I saw an anvil in a cardboard box. (Note to all anvil distributors out there: There is no need to use protection when shipping your anvils through UPS. In case you weren’t aware, these devices are designed to endure countless impacts of scalding hot metal on a daily basis. This will cause a lot more damage than will occur during the typical shipping process.)

The novelty of loading large heavy objects wore off after a few days on the job. The more interesting packages are generally of more average size. For example, a few weeks ago I loaded a box that said “live crickets” on the side. Upon closer examination, I noticed another sticker on the top that said “Caution– Live Animals.” Below the text was an outlined image of a dog, cat, and turtle. While I didn’t actually open the box, I really hope that there wasn’t a puppy dog inside. And while I haven’t personally witnessed this, I have been told that large shipments of live bees are shipped towards the end of the summer.

So while it may not be my dream job (especially since it lacks Barbara Eden in her prime walking around in a Jenie costume addressing me as, “Master”) I am pretty happy working at UPS. I get a good workout, a steady paycheck, and I get to wear a cute brown outfit to work each day. Just kidding– only the drivers get to wear the company uniforms. I just wear shorts and a T-shirt on most days. Which is just another benefit for me. So until further notice, I am no longer unemployed.