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Old July 28 2009, 01:34 AM   #1
Oryx
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Ah, employment... (Help?)

I just completed my "prospective employees tour" of the local UPS hub, where I'm attempting to become a package handler. The job would be Monday through Friday, 4 PM-ish to 9 PM-ish, constantly moving heavy boxes from one place to another.

My first question is: Does anyone have experience with this sort of position? I'm... not the strongest chica in the world, but I'm certainly willing to try. I suppose I'd just like to know if I'm going to come home totally wiped every single night, with no energy left for school work. Are they going to expect me to be Wonder Woman right from the get-go, or will I be allowed a chance to get into the swing of things/build up my strength as I go?

The main reasons I'm considering this position are the hours and the fact that I wouldn't have to work weekends. I'll be engaged in collegiate goodness from about 8 AM to 2:30 PM every weekday, so the shift is perfect. And having weekends off? Amazing. Incredible.

So here's my other question, and I'd really appreciate any feedback you can offer: What alternative jobs might I consider which would have similar hours? Will anywhere else give me weekends off? Can I request weekends off before I apply somewhere, or will doing so seriously hinder my chances of being employed?
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Old July 28 2009, 01:37 AM   #2
JustKate
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Re: Ah, employment... (Help?)

My husband did this while he was in school - it was hard work, but the pay was pretty dang good for part-time, and as you note, no weekends, yay! And at the time - this was quite a few year back, now - there were even some benefits, though I expect that's changed now.

From what I understand, the packages aren't heavy. There are just lots of them. I'm not sure how much "getting into the swing of things" was allowed since he was (and is) a pretty strong guy. But I'll try to remember to ask him, just in case nobody with more current experience happens to come along.
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Old July 28 2009, 01:42 AM   #3
Oryx
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Re: Ah, employment... (Help?)

Thanks, JustKate! I believe the situation with benefits for part-time workers is that you gain them for yourself alone after working there for a year, and if you have a family (which I don't, being 18 and terrified of childbirth) it's a bit longer until you can get everybody on board.

I've been hearing a lot of different statements made about the weight of the packages. The woman who led the tour said I need to be able to lift 70 pounds by myself, but other sources disagree with this.
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Old July 28 2009, 01:44 AM   #4
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Re: Ah, employment... (Help?)

The biggest question is your driving record. If it's clean, and you perform well, expect to get some of the more cushy drop-off routes in your area.
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Old July 28 2009, 01:48 AM   #5
Oryx
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Re: Ah, employment... (Help?)

Timby wrote: View Post
The biggest question is your driving record. If it's clean, and you perform well, expect to get some of the more cushy drop-off routes in your area.
Oh, sorry; maybe I wasn't clear enough with my explanation of the position. I'd be inside what is basically a stuffy warehouse, packing up the trucks with boxes (or otherwise, unloading them, possibly onto a conveyor belt). I'm told that the enormous trailers must be loaded/unloaded within 45 minutes each; as of now, I'm still unsure about exactly how much of a challenge that will be. All of the UPS drivers/delivery people, however, had to start as package handlers.
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Old July 28 2009, 01:56 AM   #6
Mallory
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Re: Ah, employment... (Help?)

I did it for about three months, but that was back in the 70s so I'm pretty sure my experience really isn't relevant any more. But even back then the pay was exceptional and you didn't have to work weekends. I'm not sure you need to worry all that much about any heavy lifting, my experience was that most packages were small ones and someone was always willing to help out with anything approaching the UPS weight limit.

One thing that has changed since my time with them was the advent of the next day or second day envelope. They couldn't offer that service back then due to postal regulations. Hopefully, they make up a lot more of the package mix these days.
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Old July 28 2009, 02:07 AM   #7
Oryx
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Re: Ah, employment... (Help?)

Mallory: Wow, I never realized exactly how many people have been package minions! Regardless of the decade in which you worked there, thanks for the insight. You helped to calm my nerves about the weight issue. Perhaps the employees leading the tour were only trying out some scare tactics on us-- to assure that applicants are indeed willing to work hard.

Also, your avatar is wonderful.
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Old July 28 2009, 02:10 AM   #8
J. Allen
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Re: Ah, employment... (Help?)

Oryx wrote: View Post
Timby wrote: View Post
The biggest question is your driving record. If it's clean, and you perform well, expect to get some of the more cushy drop-off routes in your area.
Oh, sorry; maybe I wasn't clear enough with my explanation of the position. I'd be inside what is basically a stuffy warehouse, packing up the trucks with boxes (or otherwise, unloading them, possibly onto a conveyor belt). I'm told that the enormous trailers must be loaded/unloaded within 45 minutes each; as of now, I'm still unsure about exactly how much of a challenge that will be. All of the UPS drivers/delivery people, however, had to start as package handlers.
It depends on how many people are helping you. When I worked at a retail store, I was on the dock crew and we had until 6 AM to unload the truck that came in at 4:30 AM. It was me, one other person, and a 52' trailer. We usually got it unloaded by 6:15 AM at the latest, and that was with very large items you wouldn't encounter in a UPS warehouse.

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Old July 28 2009, 02:17 AM   #9
Mallory
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Re: Ah, employment... (Help?)

Oryx wrote: View Post
Mallory: Wow, I never realized exactly how many people have been package minions! Regardless of the decade in which you worked there, thanks for the insight. You helped to calm my nerves about the weight issue. Perhaps the employees leading the tour were only trying out some scare tactics on us-- to assure that applicants are indeed willing to work hard.
For me, it was the second best job I had while I was in college. The work (at least for me) was more mentally than physically challenging. Making sure the right things got on the right truck was always the goal.
Also, your avatar is wonderful.
Thanks!
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Old July 28 2009, 04:43 AM   #10
JustKate
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Re: Ah, employment... (Help?)

Well, I asked my husband - but you must remember that this was as of the mid-1980s - and he said: (1) No the packages are not heavy but (2) there was no "getting in the swing of things." You just go there, work really hard, get really, really tired, and get paid pretty well. You'll be hurtin' the first couple of weeks. At least that's how it was when he worked there, but it's hard to beat the pay, the hours and the (relative) security.
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Old July 28 2009, 05:53 AM   #11
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Re: Ah, employment... (Help?)

My best friend did it for a while in college on top of his other job at a video store. He worked the shit shift (11pm-3am), and he was miserable. The pay was good, but you don't get any benefits until you've been there for 30 days, and you're pretty much never allowed to take time off. He couldn't even go home for Christmas because he had to work.

If he hadn't been going to school and working another job at the same time, it probably would have been a lot better for him, but at the time it was terrible. He even failed a couple classes because he never had time to sleep.
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Old July 28 2009, 06:01 AM   #12
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Re: Ah, employment... (Help?)

JustKate wrote: View Post
this was as of the mid-1980s - and he said: (1) No the packages are not heavy but (2) there was no "getting in the swing of things."
Unlike the 1970's, when both of those things apparently WERE true.
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Old July 28 2009, 08:47 PM   #13
Holdfast
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Re: Ah, employment... (Help?)

Get some proper training on manual handling, or you will run the risk of seriously trashing your back if you've never done it before and don't do it right.

I'm totally serious. If your workplace doesn't provide training on the right technique of how to lift/handle heavy boxes, consider not working there, because if you screw your back up in a big way, no amount of compensation will get it back. It's not just muscle strength (and if some lifting situations, strength can encourage you do lift the wrong way), it's about some simple steps to do it the right, and safe, way.
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Old July 28 2009, 08:50 PM   #14
JustKate
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Re: Ah, employment... (Help?)

I do remember that since uniforms weren't provided, Mr. JustKate had, like, 10 pairs of jeans - slightly ragged ones he got at Goodwill. This is because, particularly in the summer, he would sweat through one pair every shift. It was pretty hard work.
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Old July 28 2009, 09:03 PM   #15
Crash
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Re: Ah, employment... (Help?)

Heh. Way back when I started college I applied at UPS. I promptly lost interest when I learned that I could only go pee during their scheduled break.
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