Uncaring Prick Shitheads and me.

May/2004: Working - Being that I was born pretty damn poor, I threw myself into work too early which really screwed up going to school. But I got cash. From crap-ass jobs. The worst of which can be obviously gleamed from the title of this entry. Yes, United Postal Service. You know, the guys in the brown suits.

I didn't have a brown suit.

Nor did I drive a brown truck.

First, let me preface my big ol' pending bitchfest by pointing out that most people who bitch about jobs are simply malcontents. I've had plenty of jobs that were great... except for the fact that all the other employees bitched about it. Typically, you're getting paid what you're worth. And you're usually not worth much. I set the bar pretty high. A wal-mark employee, for instance, is not deserving of a dime over minimum wage. Beep, beep, beep. Not hard. Doesn't take skill. Ridiculous to complain.

But UPS is not ridiculous to complain about. I have never worked for a worse company than they. First, they train you for two or three weeks (Three probably, it's hard to remember) when they only need to train you for one day. THe training is pretty remedial and only has value for morons. Now, what's fun about that is that most of the people there were morons, but they weren't stupid enough to work for UPS. Most of them quit after the training period, which, at the time, I thought was mean.

Boy, were they right to screw UPS like that.

I went for this job because it was part-time and late at night. And when I say late at night, I mean it. Work started at 2:00 AM and got off at 6-7 AM. I figured, hey, I'll have some cash to treat my girlfriend well and some cash for college! In truth, I would have been better off joining the military. It's almost as dangerous, almost as physically taxing and you get paid more.

After I got to learn how to "move a box by picking it up while bending at the knees and then bringing it into the power area", I was put out to unload trucks. There were only two jobs they were hiring for. Loading trucks, and unloading trucks. I decided to unload, since I didn't want to deal with the added idiocy of getting a tight load (yeah, snicker and move on) into the back of the trailer. In truth, it was probably the wrong call.

So I chose unloading. Now, the trucks you unload aren't those stupid small brown UPS trucks. They're trailers, you know, the regular kind that semi's pull. You open the trailer door up and dodge falling boxes. Once you avoid having a computer fall on your head (happened enough to mention) you extend a system of rollers up to the boxes. You're then supposed to use the rollers to load boxes onto, extending it as you clear out the trailer.

However, the inside started the fun part. The trailers were seperated into four sections by flat boards. When you cleared out the top two sections, you got to lift the boards up above your head, and dive down into the rest of the boxes. Seems like nothing, I'm sure, however, consider that these trailers are about ten to twelve feet tall. Perhaps fifteen feet. So these were huge wooden boards.

The best part about these boards though, is the latches. You're supposed to put them up and latch them. However, a good third of the time, the latches didn't work well. So you either got to try to make production by bracing your body against the board, or just chancing that it wouldn't fall on your head. Well, I took the chance and paid the price. Still, I made production. Oh yes, production...

The production at UPS was equally insane. You were expected to, as an individual, clear a trailer in about ten to fifteen minutes by yourself. Now, we're talking about a huge trailer. It could be done, and I usually made it by doing something akin to the tazmanian fucking devil, but few others did. The rollers barely worked half the time. The whole system would jam on you, you wouldn't know it, and if you were below, the boxes you lifted and put up on the rollers would start swaying and falling on you. Now, if the frequently jammed conveyors didn't cause you to fly into insane cursing rants, the "overweight" boxes did.

Look, I don't know who of you out there orders weight-sets by mail, but you need to quit. In training, they taught us about the overweight boxes. If you got a box over a hundred pounds, you were supposed to get a co-worker to help you carry it out of the trailer, through the tight overhead conveyor spot, and about eight feet over to the "overweight conveyor belt." Which was often full. Meaning that you would put the packages on the floor and then re-lift them later on in the night.

The first problem with this lofty idea is the belief that a co-worker will or can help you. Most of the time I was in a trailer by myself. I, as a noob, would go get someone else to help me and find that my production sucked and that we're not actually supposed to do that. So I was left with carrying the overweights by myself, like everyone else. I was 5'10 and about 130 pounds. Some of this stuff weighed upwards of 200 pounds. But I did it. And about killed myself a hundred times.

As I mentioned, I don't know who orders weight-sets via UPS. But please, for the love of god, go to the mall. The company that sends them puts them all into the same shipment. Meaning that while Joe Jackass Coworker gets a trailer full of cosmetics (more on that later), you got a trailer with fifty to sixty weight-sets. The worst part about the weight-sets was that they would come in small packages but weight 100-200 pounds. I could never figure out how something so small would weigh so much... but they did. The best of course, was the shoddy packaging they came in. Nothing like picking up a shredded package and having dumbbells fly everywhere, including your legs and feet.

Now, here's another byproduct of the dumbbells. Remember my mention of the cosmetics? Guess what happens when dumbbells get stacked on cosmetics? Yes, CK1 goes everywhere. On the dumbbells, even. Now, the job may not have been so bad if I would have gotten to see the look on the face of Ms. Musclebound Meathead when she caught a whiff of her husbands mistress-scented weight-set. But I did not get to glimpse that, unfortunately.

So, cosmetics would get broken. What else? Well, Dell and Gateway would ship their computers via UPS. Yes, sure, they pay for priority shipping. All priority shipping is worth is the insurance. Because items are thrown together anyways. That means that Jimmy's new harddrive ate the dumbbell just as the perfume did. There was nothing sadder than picking up a cow-colored box to hear "shakey shakey shakey" as if it were a stepped on christmas-tree ornament. The rule on such obviously damaged products? "Send it anyways, UPS will replace it. Let the customer file the claim!" Pure class, baby.

The best and tops of it all was, of course, the lethal. The first of the two lethal products was of course, ammo. I'm busting ass on the top level, I clear it, blam, start clearing the bottom (while balancing on the rollers, usually), then I clear enough to drop down and lo and behold! Bullets everywhere. Now as a person that knows exactly how little it takes for the striker-end of the bullet to go off, that usually disturbed me. Jumping into a load of shotgun ammo may be your fun idea of a four AM, but it wasn't mine. Now, of course, you're left with the job of putting all the ammo back into the broken box and taping it together. This was a very common occurence.

Yeah, handling live ammunition with heavy boxes teetering above you really makes you appreciate sunshine.

The other was far worse than live ammunition. "Aroo?" you may say, but Hazardous Materials is what I say. A large portion of the training revolved around what to do when you run across hazardous materials. Now, you may be thinking that there is no way UPS would be stupid enough to ship hazardous materials mixed in with say, ammo, dumbbells and computers, but yes, they are. They were shipping acidic materials, and other fun stuff that we were warned "could kill you, so be careful." Of course, that was rosy compared to the reality.

My favorites, the dumbbells, did a great job slicing through the weak cardboard boxes that housed the Hazmat. So, when you jump down to the bottom level, you got to play the guessing game. I called it "Is that anti-freeze or am I going to die?" Because when hazardous material spills, it doesn't spill any differently than any other liquid. So you had to hunt down where the liquid came from. That means you got to trapse around in what could be acid before determining what you should do. Typically, it was hazardous material, but you had to check as screaming "HAZMAT!" and running out of the trailer gets you in trouble when it's just brake fluid.

And yes, that was our protective training. Scream hazmat and run. Then a hazmat specialist on the floor would come over and take care of it, before shipping you back into the trailer. Of course, these rules were relaxed for the lower levels of hazmat, which was contrary to training. See, the hazmat guy was lazy and would bitch if it were lower levels of hazardous. "You should be able to take care of this, it's a lower level of hazardous material, just don't get it in your eye or too much on your skin." Lovely advice, really.

One instance was a more serious level of hazmat. Of course, it was green. Usually that meant it was auto-shit, so while looking through the boxes, I pick one up and this shit covers my arm. And starts burning like an Albino in San Diego. I screamed "SHIT SHIT SHIT FUCKING FUCKERS!" and blow out of that trailer as if I were the Flash after a buy-one-get-one free sale over to the hazardous material wash station. After getting the crap off of myself, I go back to where the trailer was. The lead of the trailers bitches at me for running away before the hazmat guy showed up, so that I could tell him where it was.

The hazmat guy then comes out of the trailer with a bucket containing the sht, and tells me it's some sort of acid, and that if I had waited I would have ended up with scarring all over my arm. At least the lead had the good humor of telling himself to fuck off before I did. That was the one silver lining, the good humor of the lead.

Other fun hazards were simply falling boxes. Loaders loved to put weights at the very top of the stacks. So when you clear it out going front to back, you continually got to deal with boxes and stacks falling from behind you. That means that at any moment, you got to dodge something that could weigh more than you did. I got nailed right in the head with something heavy, which bounced me into the rollers. I still don't know what it was, but I was out for a good two minutes.

...And nobody noticed.

After the day was over, you got to walk out bruised, often a little bloody, and my favorite part, covered head to toe in the blackest dirt possible. Sometimes you even had a few bugs on you from some of the packages that were shipped from overseas. I always expected to get some crazy asian flu from some of these weird critters. Seriously, when showering at home afterwards, you'd basically watch what looked like oil run off your body. The pain of the job was also blessid. I probably still have physical issues due to my time there, scratch that, I know I do. I don't think my back or knees have ever recovered fully.

So as you can imagine, all but three people quit after the first three days on the floor. I got hired with twenty five people. Twelve quit after training, and nine more quit the first day. I didn't quit though. My idea was to make it thirty working days of perfect attendance. If you did that, you got an extra three hundred bucks. So after the first week, it was me and this other guy. I would give him rides home after work and he would bitch about the job. It was the only time I wanted to hear it, I think.

He was fired later on for not clearing his trailers fast enough about a week later, and it was only me. Guys double my size had quit over the workload, guys far tougher than I. So why did I do it? The three hundred dollar bonus? Well, sure. There was that. But the real reason was pretty simple: the fourth of July was coming up, and I wanted to buy my girlfriend some fireworks for it, since she was heavily into that. If I had quit, I wouldn't have had enough to do that, as I was only making minimum wage for about four or five hours a night. Didn't have enough time to find a different job in order to have the cash.

So I sweated it out at that shitty job. But I fucking bought those fireworks.

Only to discover that she and my best friend of the time were shacking up on the morning of the Fourth of July.

That sucked for about two days. Then I didn't care.

So after breaking up with her, I debated quitting the job on the next day of work. But I decided not to. I came to love the idea of calling in and quitting on the very day after qualifying for the bonus. Just to stick it to them a little bit, and have that extra cash. So I made it. I sped some nights to get there on time, I went to work basically asleep a few times, ate some boxes from great height, but I made it.

I still remember calling in and quitting just like it was yesterday as well. I was pretty rude about it. I called in and informed them that their job was the worst job I can imagine, that I would not be giving them two weeks or minutes, and that I would enjoy spending my bonus on FedEx packages.

Seriously, if you don't have to, don't send an expensive package through UPS. I would estimate that a sixth of the packages in those trucks ended up broken or fucked up in some way. Even if the computers, for instance, weren't broken, they were treated in such a way that I can imagine future computer problems being the fault of shitty UPS handling. They simply are not a company that gave one shit about not breaking your items, or the backs of their employees. Even now, years later, I'd love to see them get sued out of business. Too bad it will never happen.

Moral of the story?

Don't give a shit about buying fireworks. It really doesn't matter. Let it go.

I think that's the moral of the story, anyways...