This is the first in a series of stories based on true events. I have not included any names but in the future, any such names will be changed to protect all parties.
The United Parcel Service (aka UPS) has always been a well paying job in Vermont.
It’s tough work but the company makes sure you earn every penny. Like any other work place, it has it’s good and bad employees, management and customers. The events chronicled here took place in around 1987 to 1997. Hopefully, things have improved a bit since then. Some of the stories myself, other past and present UPS employees have endured over the years are just so incredible and outrageous that they’re worth writing about.
My story begins…
Back in the 1980’s I was working as an assistant manager at a new medical home care company in Burlington, VT. I was formerly a medical equipment technician employed by the same company at a branch store in the Northeast Kingdom. Anxious for a change and advancement, I didn’t hesitate to accept the offer for the new position in Burlington, when it was offered to me.
My girlfriend and I made the move to the Burlington area and immediately found it tough to afford decent housing in the area. We finally lucked out and found a small house in South Burlington for $650 per month. With wages being what they were back then, we immediately found it tough to get by. I had my new job that came along with a raise that was still a bit paltry in the Burlington area. My girlfriend worked at a local bank for not much more than minimum wage, at the time. We clipped coupons for groceries and managed to get by with very few extras.
While walking through the Square Mall on Church St one day, I ran into a childhood friend who moved from Newport to the Burlington area to work at UPS, as a driver. He told me how much the pay was (much more than what I was currently getting by on), gave me a few tips about “getting into UPS” and put me in touch with the hiring manager. I was anxious to get started and pestered the hiring manager at every opportunity.
Eventually the strategy worked. The hiring manager said he was so tired of seeing me pop up everywhere, that he would give me a job as a package delivery driver, so he wouldn’t have to see me wherever he went. I was both excited and relieved to land the position back in the Northeast Kingdom. Finally, I could make decent pay and live back at home with friends and family.
I was offered the job and allowed to start after two weeks notice to my current employer. Before I could start, I had to take a few days of orientation in Manchester, NH. My current employer gave me the time off, and wished me luck with the new career move. All seemed to be well and I was excited to get started after the orientation was over.
My first day working at UPS should have been a warning sign of things to come
With one week of my notice left with my current employer, I got a phone call (at work) from the UPS hiring manager. “Uh hello, you still want to work for UPS?”I thought something had gone wrong and said “Yes of course. I’m starting next Monday”. There was a few seconds of silence and then the hiring manager (who had coincidentally gotten a promotion to center manager at the location where I was to start work) said “I need you to pick up some air packages in Burlington and bring them here ASAP”.
I was totally shocked and replied, “I’m supposed to start next Monday, not this Monday. I’m working right now and can’t leave'” It was a Monday morning and I was the only one “minding the store”. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why this guy was calling now.
“Well…” the voice on the other end sighed smugly, “if you can’t help us out, I guess your career at UPS is over before it starts” and then he hung up. I sat at a desk holding the phone in my hand, totally stunned, still listening to the dial tone before putting the phone down slowly. My heart started racing and my throat went dry. The time I put into orientation, the arrangements I had made to move back north and my wife also getting done at her job…all of this went through my mind and sent me into panic mode.
Maybe, I rationalized to myself, I can put a sign on the door saying I was out for an emergency oxygen delivery, returning in a few hours. The store hadn’t officially opened yet at the new location. We were still stocking the shelves, etc. I could get out for a few hours, nobody would be coming to the store anyway and I could kill two birds with one stone. Or so I thought.
I jumped into my car, picked up the packages at the Burlington area hub and was on my way to St Johnsbury. Fortunately, I didn’t get pulled over for speeding because I was on an adrenaline rush or in a panic attack. I thought to myself “I’ve got this. I’ll drop the packages off get back on the road and rush back and be back where I should be just in time for lunch.”
If Satan is the master deceiver, then certainly this UPS hiring manager must have been his right hand man
I pulled into the building as if I had just pulled a fire truck up to a five alarm blaze and rushed into the building. “I’ve got your packages” I shouted up to the office where I saw the hiring manager and another man conversing. They calmly walked out of the office and the manager said “What took you so long?” He seemed to be delighted with his own sarcastic remark and I started taking them out of my car.
“Hey, leave them in your car. You’ve got to go out and deliver them.” My heart started pounding and I could only utter a shocked “what???”
Then I took a breath and said “You didn’t mention anything about that. I thought you just wanted me to bring them here. I’ve got to get back to my job ASAP!”
He and the other man, who was a driver supervisor just, just looked at each other and snickered. “Like I told you on the phone, if you can’t help us out, your job at UPS is over before it begins.” They came down the stairs and he said “…but don’t worry, we’ll make you a map of where to go and you should be done in a few hours.” My stomach sank uneasily and I simply replied, “Is there a phone I can use. I have to call my job and let them know.”
“Yeah,” he said pointing to a phone on the wall. “Make it quick we’ve got to get those packages out today, today, today!”
I thought to myself “what an asshole this guy is”. If this is what UPS is like, maybe I should tell him where to shove his job and his arrogant demeanor. But then I thought about all the dominoes that were in motion and began to worry that I’d lose both jobs and be stuck in limbo.
I picked up the phone, called my manager at the medical home care company. I told them where I was and what was going on. I felt as low as a human being could get. Even more so when the manager on the other end of the phone said “ok, thanks for calling” and that was it. Just those few words revealed the disappointment veiled behind them. I felt totally ashamed and again wondered if UPS was worth it.
Listening to the short conversation, the UPS manager said “Ok, let’s get those packages delivered” and he started giving me directions. Then as I was preparing to leave, I saw the two managers laughing at me as if they’d both just won some type of game, which is exactly what they had intended. It wasn’t long before I found out just how sadistic and perverted this UPS manager was when I saw him taunting other employees, sexually harassing female employees and perfecting his lying and manipulation skills.
As they say, there is a day of reckoning and this manager’s day eventually came. More on that in an upcoming story…
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