New (?) Adventure (2006)
It was my first day to report to UPS for work. Two days of orientation and then I get serious. I’m looking forward to the experience. It will mean some adjustments to my daily routine. My shift is M-F 10am-3pm. Change is good for me.
I received my UPS training certification. I am fully trained in all aspects of safety, quality and performance (well, we’ll see about the performance). It is very interesting to meet the people working as package handlers. With only a couple of exceptions, I probably have 30-40 years on them. I also got my first check. The best part was I didn’t make enough to have to pay any federal and state income taxes.
Life Lessons from Loading
I am working steadily at loading packages, I’ve recognized there are lots of life lessons to be learned from the work and the means and methods that they teach you.
Today’s life lessons:
- You always need a cornerstone package to start the load.
- Heavy packages on the bottom.
- Light packages on the top.
- Always ask for assistance to handle packages that are too heavy or awkward.
Those who have ears let them hear.
Life Lessons from Loading (Gifted)
I have often thought about in what way God has gifted me. Yesterday my loading trainer told me that I was doing a really good job. “You’ve got the gift”, she said. “What gift, I asked”? Her reply was, “You know. The gift of loading”. Well, I’m not sure what I will do with my gift after Christmas, but it is good to finally know I am gifted.
More “Life Lessons from Loading”
- Loading is really easy when the packages are all relatively uniform. The difficult part comes when you have to deal with the “irregulars”, the packages that are odd shaped and non-conforming.
- Hazardous material requires special handling.
Reflections on Working at UPS
My short career at UPS ended Friday 12/15/2006. I was hired as seasonal help and I had no intention of extending my time. In fact, most seasonal employees work until New Year’s but Florida called and I answered. My experience at UPS was interesting on several levels. Most people when they found out I was working there seem surprised. They would ask, “Why would you do that”? I didn’t usually give a direct answer but the question is valid. The work is hard and physical. I’m an old man and there are a lot of jobs that pay as much or more and don’t require as much effort. The pay is a small fraction of what I have been paid in recent jobs. There weren’t many hours available and I would only be working until we leave for Florida.
So why did I choose to go to UPS. The most objective answer is the hours were good. I signed up for 10 am to 4 pm M-F only. Those hours let me work without disrupting much of my normal routine. Another attraction was the physical challenge. I had heard a lot about how difficult package handling is and I was anxious to see if I was up to it. Well it was difficult and I was up to it; not withstanding the hot whirlpool baths and 800 mg of ibuprofen each day. I must admit I’m not sure what I would have done if it had been summer time. The money was not the main reason for working but I sure wouldn’t have worked for nothing.
I did feel I needed to work. Work is intrinsically good and the fact that I was working was good for me. Everyone needs the pleasure of working, of having a task to be done and achieving it and knowing you did it well. I was told I have the gift of loading. At a deeper level, my decision to work relates to a nagging need to be in the “market place”. I feel that I have been isolated from the “real world” in almost every circumstance. Working at UPS certainly filled that need. It also provided an opportunity to interact with people without the costumes of identities that I have accumulated in my life, i.e. Ford manager, church leader/member, Bible teacher, Bachelor of Science, Master of Science. Those identities are not bad but they become lens through which people view you and form pre-conceived notions about who you are and what you believe. More importantly, when you are identified through those lens you are treated differently and relationship can be impeded or diminished. Perhaps it was a Prince and the Pauper kind of experience. I am not ashamed of the opportunities and accomplishments of my life but in our culture they can easily become the source of purpose and meaning for our lives. The UPS experience offered an opportunity to engage people in way not normally available in my every day circumstances. I am very reluctant to compare my efforts to what Paul described in his Philippian letter but in an embarrassingly small way my UPS experience was a clumsy attempt to follow Paul’s counsel in my life.
The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash along with everything else I used to take credit for.
And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant as dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ as God’s righteousness.
I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself. If there was any way to get in on the resurrection from the dead, I wanted to do it. I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. (Phil 3:7-14 The Message)