Seven rides down and I’m officially Brown

With two weeks of training, six practice time-studies, and my first real study last Friday complete, I have much to tell about what I’ve seen in my first month at UPS.  But first, I should explain what I’m doing taking a semester off from classes and friends.

What is a time study?
I like to think of my job as a top-secret recon mission so dangerous that only a college student could be capable (foolish?) enough to handle the task.  Lies aside, my main responsibility is to time the driver’s every little movement from the moment he steps inside his package car till he punches out.  How detailed?  I count every pace he takes, record every time he touches a package, what he does with a package, and tally every stop sign, every traffic light, and every human or automobile caused delay while traveling.  This is the definition of tedious, and the old definition of industrial engineering I so deeply despise.  Yet, it has introduced me to new exciting opportunities in IE, like UPS-Supply Chain Solutions (SCS).  Companies seek the consultation of UPS-SCS to streamline the logistical needs of their business to meet fluctuating consumer demand and international restrictions.  I keep telling myself that I might have the chance to work for SCS this summer.  Regardless, my current job has afforded me the possibility to see a slice of Houston, giving me a greater exposure to the multi-colored landscape of America.

Great, who cares… I just wanna know who delivers my packages?
Charlie Brown and George Washington, of course!  Yes, both Mr. Brown and Mr. Washington are just two of the 250 drivers at the Sweetwater hub where I work.  Speaking of drivers, my first seven have ranged from 20+ year veterans to a 3 year rookie. Educations range from high school diplomas to a degree from Sam Houston State and everywhere in between.  Some like the job more than others, but all agree that it is taking a toll on their bodies, which is why they are so handsomely paid ($30 an hour and $40 overtime).  The physical demands are but mere droplets in an ocean compared to the household stress caused from 12 hours separation of husband from wife each day.  Consequently, the divorce rate among UPS drivers is around 80%, and I’ve only had one driver happily married to his first wife.  Don’t be fooled.  These drivers know more about you than your friends.  You really are what you buy.

What have I seen in my first month?
The routes have taken me all over North Houston from the businesses in Medical City to the residentials near Augusta Pines Golf Course, a stop on the PGA Champions Tour.  I’ve endured a full day trapped inside the Woodlands Mall walking over 4 miles to deliver 500 packages.  On the flip side, I spent Friday afternoon inside beautiful neighborhoods of Kingwood off Woodlands Parkway.  I’ve had a free lunch at the Chevron-Phillips headquarters, makers of everything from racing fuel to golf balls and entered many office buildings in the Woodlands, where some of you will one day work when you graduate, like Hewitt Associates and McDonalds corporate office. 

But my personal favorite was far from lofty office buildings or luxurious golf courses.  It was an mechanic’s shop.  This mechanic worked on only a handful of cars – or should I say Monster Trucks!!  Yes, I visited the regional mechanic for the mighty Gravedigger!!  Where was my camera!!  Even though the Gravedigger itself was not present, I saw a monster truck tire… 6.5 feet in diameter.  Yes, it’s taller than you, every last one of you!  So yes, my job is quite spectacular 60% of the time, but the other 40% is a corporate nightmare of cost-cutting, micromanagement that I hope to never see again.  I’m just glad I’m good at rounding, making my job 100% fun.