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Thoughts For Thursday: Remembering My Holiday Job With UPS

November 18, 2010 · 73 comments

in Personal Finance, Thoughts For Thursday, Work

Rumor on the street (aka the Associated Press) is that UPS is hiring 50,000 temporary employees for the 2010 holiday season.

That’s a lot of people.

I actually was one of those people about 21 years ago.  I was a student at Michigan State, and the job center posted that UPS was looking to hire temp workers to help deliver packages.  The pay sounded fantastic, around ten dollars an hour, which was great money back then.  Heck, it isn’t bad money now.  So, my fiancee (husband now) and I both signed up.  I needed money to pay for the next semester, and it sounded like the UPS gig would be a lot safer than my under-the-table job at the candy factory I had been doing.  (That is a story for another day.)

So, we went to some auditorium somewhere, I can’t remember, and they handed me my sweet brown uniform and told me they would contact me soon.

The call came a few days later, once I was home from college for Christmas break.   My job was to meet up with a UPS truck in a neighborhood nearby.  The driver would dump off a ton of packages where I was standing, and my job was to drag the packages up and down the street on this massive wagon contraption, delivering them to the appropriate houses.

Can I tell you it took about 18 seconds in cold Michigan weather to ascertain that this job was awful?  Keep in mind, I was 5 foot 2 at the time and about 103 pounds pulling all these packages.  It seemed like every heavy package needed to be delivered to the back door.  (Packages had a 50 pound max, but a giant 50 pound box can be hard to carry when you are short.)  I ran, and I sweat, and I got all my packages delivered in the required amount of time.  I hoped and prayed they would not call back again that night.

Well, they called.  Had to report to the same neighborhood the next day, same deal.

I delivered all my packages, and thought I did a great job.  Turns out the truck driver screwed up and didn’t give me some packages he was supposed to, so somebody else had to work late to deliver them.   Needless to say, I somehow got the blame for the screw up and I did not get called back again. I was thrilled, even though I needed the money.

My fiancee, on the other hand, was a mule of a different sort.  He rode shotgun on one of the trucks in a neighborhood with huge yards.  The driver would pull up to the driveway, and my fiancee would run out of the truck up to the house and deliver the packages.  At night, we would talk on the phone and argue over who had it worse.  (I still say it was me.)

It was definitely an experience to remember, and it did not have the charm of my holiday job at the candy-factory.  Actually, I don’t think that job had any redeeming qualities, except the paycheck I received after my 2 days of misery.  However, for those of you with tougher constitutions than I, it may be a great way to make some extra cash.

Have you ever taken a seasonal job?  Did you like it?

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Dana November 18, 2010 at 7:07 am

Oh, that sounds like so much fun…NOT. The last few years I’ve seen the college kids driving thru the neighborhood on a golf cart dragging a wagon behind it with packages piled high…took me a while to figure out what they were doing. Big difference down here in sunny Florida though!


Everyday Tips November 18, 2010 at 9:40 pm

Dana, I would have loved to have driven a golf cart while delivering those packages. That would have made it all worth it!


First Gen American November 18, 2010 at 7:28 am

My husband put himself through college throwing boxes for 8 years at UPS. He said most people don’t last 1 week because it’s a very physically demanding job. I’m pretty sure you weren’t missing much.


Everyday Tips November 18, 2010 at 9:40 pm

Yikes, 8 years. That is incredible, good for your husband. The money is pretty decent though.


The Biz of Life November 18, 2010 at 8:40 am

I’d definitely say you had the worst of it. My Christmas break job were all doing some kind of menial retail sales job and weren’t challenging physically, but the were mind numbing experiences.


Everyday Tips November 18, 2010 at 9:41 pm

Thank you for siding with me Biz!

Anything mind-numbing is killer. Makes you so sleepy. At least I burned some calories…


Money Reasons November 18, 2010 at 8:58 am

I had a buddy that was trying to get me to apply. We both worked out with weight and were pretty strong so I could have done it for the money…

But instead I worked constructions, and a slew of temp agency jobs (the worse being a warehouse job where the septic system was broke, pleasant smells, NOT)…


Everyday Tips November 18, 2010 at 9:42 pm

MR- you should have done it! Delivering packages is better than hanging out around faulty septic tanks for sure.


Jeff @ Sustainable Life Blog November 18, 2010 at 3:40 pm

Wow, that sounds like a lot of work and also 0 fun in the michigan winter. Would you have kept going had you gotten an assignment similar to your husbands?


Everyday Tips November 18, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Well, they kind of didn’t call me back because of the driver’s screw up. However, if I could have been a runner like my husband, I would have done it longer for sure, assuming they called me back.


Andrew @ 101 Centavos November 18, 2010 at 6:32 pm

Never did take a seasonal job in college, but I did have a gig for a while with a cleaning company (windows, carpets, industrial accounts). Some were easy, most were hard. The worst were the fraternities and sororities, and the apartments move-outs. Amazing what crud people leave behind (or keep their food in). The pay was OK for a college kid, about $10 bucks an hour, but definitely not pleasant and very physically demanding.


Everyday Tips November 18, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Cleaning carpet would be awful. The smells, the cleaners, the blech.

You didn’t have it very easy either!!


101 Centavos November 19, 2010 at 6:19 am

Well, it could have been worse… could have been raining 🙂


Kris November 19, 2010 at 4:24 pm

It doesn’t rain in Michigan in December my friend! 🙂


Lindy Mint November 19, 2010 at 8:48 am

Well, it would have been fun if they had let you drive the truck…but I guess that’s only in my UPS fantasy world.

I’ve never taken a Holiday job, because I usually screw up in new situations.


Kris November 19, 2010 at 4:28 pm

Lindy- My fantasy of driving the truck would be a nightmare to everyone else on the road, that is for sure. (Kind of like me in the brown outfit)


Crystal @ BFS November 19, 2010 at 12:31 pm

I worked at a bookstore a few years ago for $7 an hour. It was a great job but the owner was sort of nuts. He yelled at me and was so aggressive one day that I broke down in tears and quit – literally said, “I don’t need this job and you’re an ass” and walked out…not nearly as cool sounding when you’re crying, but he got the point I hope.


Kris November 19, 2010 at 4:32 pm

You should write a post about that experience Crystal. I want you to send someone back to that bookstore to see if that guy improved his disposition at all.

Funny, I always pictured a bookstore being a nice, peaceful place to work. Must be from watching ‘Sleepless in Seattle’.


Husband of Everyday Tips November 24, 2010 at 9:02 am

This is one of those arguments that can never be decided. I thought it would be good to add a little detail on my version of the UPS experience. I did get to ride in a truck, which is easier than lugging around a big cart thru the snow. On the down side, the truck was kept so full that I had to ride hanging on the outside for much of the day until I had cleared enough space (never got to sit down). Most of the “driveways” I encountered were very long and unpaved, meaning I was carrying large boxes through a bunch of cold mud. The driver wanted to ensure he could do two loads a day so we took only one 15 minute break in about 12 hours to eat a candy bar and drink a Coke. Bathroom breaks involved trying to hide behind a tree on the side of the road. I think that UPS people work very hard and can’t possibly be paid enough money, however they do the deliveries!


Kris November 24, 2010 at 7:57 pm

Well, I have to say that I still think Biz of Life is right, I had it worse. 🙂


Kay Lynn @ Bucksome Boomer November 26, 2010 at 1:13 pm

That sounds like a pretty awful seasonal job. I never have had one although I worked or TSA for 3 months. I should write about that!


Kris November 26, 2010 at 10:20 pm

Kay Lynn- I think you should write about that too. Very timely!


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