UPS drivers are as busy as Santa's elves around Christmas

December 24, 2003|HERB BROCK

He doesn't have a white beard, black boots or a little round belly. But around Christmastime every year Wayne Wesley and his fellow earthbound elves are the closest thing you'll find to Santa Claus south of the North Pole.

Instead of a sleigh, he drives a big van. Instead of a red outfit, he wears a brown uniform. Instead of dropping down chimneys, he drops off his packages at front and side doors. Despite these differences, Wesley keeps a delivery schedule almost as frenzied as the much more famous fat man's.

"I'm at over 200 stops right now," said Wesley around 6 p.m. Monday. He was whizzing his way through Indian Hills subdivision in Danville, wrapping up his rounds for the day.

"By the time I'm done tonight, I will have made more than 230 deliveries."

Wesley is one of 18 United Parcel Service drivers who serve Boyle, Garrard, Lincoln and Mercer counties. The 13-year UPS veteran and his 17 fellow brown-clad elves have made thousands of deliveries this month with the peak hitting a week ago.


"On Wednesday, Dec. 17, we made more than 2,300 deliveries in our four counties," said Darrell King, who is supervisor of the Danville UPS center and has been with the outfit for more than 20 years. "This Christmas has been very busy, much busier than last Christmas."

One of the lightest Christmastime delivery schedules in King's memory occurred in December 2001."The aftermath of September 11 (2001) affected us a lot," he said. "Our volume really fell off that Christmas, and it was comparatively low for several months before and after."

But the volume has been bouncing back over the last year or so, and that rebound has been reflected this Christmas season, said King. "We've been wearing our tires out," he said.

But on Tuesday, the frenetic delivery pace that had been pushing drivers during the previous week or so was starting to subside. "The last couple of days we've gotten down to about 1,600 to 1,700 deliveries a day," King said.

On Tuesday morning King accompanied Wesley on some of his rounds around downtown Danville. They made stops at several locations along Second Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard, including CVS pharmacy, Danville Board of Education and Kentucky School for the Deaf.

At each stop, Wesley and King, at a pace that could be described as something akin to speed walking, quickly toted packages to customers. Wesley also was carrying the ever-present UPS pad. It isn't a Santa checklist - UPS drivers don't discriminate between customers who are naughty or nice.

"It's officially called a DIAD, for Delivery Information Acquisition Device. But you can call it a pad," King said with a chuckle.

While most of the packages Wesley and King were handling while they were followed by a reporter Tuesday morning were small, more than a few in Wesley's van were large, and that is why two people are assigned to a van when possible.

"We double up whenever we can, especially during the holidays," said King. "Some of the packages require two people to carry."

Under UPS guidelines, a package weighing more than 70 pounds requires two drivers to carry it. UPS will not handle packages weighing more than 150 pounds.

"It's a very physical job, and it can be tiring during the long days we put in during the holidays," said Wesley, who has been working 10-hour days for more than two weeks.

But Wesley said it's worth the aching muscles and throbbing feet. "At the end of the day, you know you've not only worked hard but you know you've brought some joy to people, especially during Christmastime. Many of my customers, both business and residential, aren't just customers. They're friends."

And Wesley and his UPS comrades have other friends doing much the same work as they do during the holidays. They know they aren't the only people dropping off joy from house to house and business to business at Christmastime. The gift-bearers in brown suit acknowledge there are some blue-clad elves running around town, too.

As he bounded back on his van after making a stop on Second, Wesley put down his DIAD and raised a hand to wave at a man whose feet were his sleigh. It was a postal employee who was going from house to house carrying a fistful of letters, including a lot of Christmas cards.

"I can't think of two busier people this time of year than package delivery service people like me and letter carriers like him. Well, except for you know who," said Wesley.

Central Kentucky News Articles