This time of year is the busy season for shoppers – and package carriers alike.
"Black Friday and Cyber Monday kick off the holiday season for us," UPS driver Kevin Moore told FOX Television Stations. "Things are busy around here … and it will just get increasingly more busy throughout the holiday season."
From major back-ups to little thank yous, here is a look at a typical day for delivery drivers this holiday season and perhaps some unexpected things that impact them.
Behind the scenes
No matter the carrier, all days begin with a truck check. Then, it’s time to get the packages and the day’s route in check.
"Different routes have different setups," Moore explained. "For example, some might deliver business and then do a lot of pickups. In my case, I just do deliveries to business and then residential all day."
UPS drivers typically are on the same daily routes, and get to bid on their drives based on seniority. Moore himself has been driving with the company for more than 30 years.
For Rachel Cessna, an Amazon Delivery Service Partner driver, her days can be different.
"We usually deliver for around 8.5 hours in a day and so it would not be uncommon for us to still be delivering until around 7 p.m. and then coming back to the station after that," she said. "Based upon when you finish your packages, you know, you can be faster, slower. It kind of depends on your day and how your route is."
What affects their day
A UPS worker delivers packages during a snow storm in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022. Photographer: Matthew Hatcher/Bloomberg via Getty Images
"Customers make a big impact on us in (making the day go slower or faster)," Cessna said. "If we have to contact customers, that does in fact slow us down quite a bit."
Reasons for needing to contact a customer could be from conflicting or confusing notes on where to leave the package, or because of a lack of space to leave multiple packages or large items.
On one delivery, Cessna had more than a dozen packages to leave in a very small space on the front porch of a townhome.
"Luckily, they were home and I was able to put them in their garage," she remembers. "But if I wouldn't have had that option, I probably would have taken them all back to make sure that they were safe."
Making sure someone is available to sign for a package if necessary is a big time saver too – as well as putting away pets before answering the door.
Both Cessna and Moore said outdoor lighting makes a difference, especially as the sun sets so early this time of year, as well as having a visible address.
The busy season
Naturally, this time of year lends itself to more shopping and gift-giving. So what does all the extra packaging and shipping mean for the drivers?
For Moore, who delivers in the Newberry Park, Calif. area, he said he has more stops and more packages to deliver in a condensed time. "It’s a longer day," he said.
For Cessna, who’s been delivering with Amazon’s delivery service partner for more than two years in Maryland, the difference she notices most is volume.
Amazon boxes during a delivery in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
"For example, one house could have 20 packages delivered to it, or you could have a group stop where there are multiple locations and there might be – I've had as many as, like, 30 packages in a multi-stop during this time of year. You know, some houses, maybe five different locations getting six, eight packages each. So it can add up quite a bit, and that means multiple trips to the van and things like that too, because obviously we can only carry so many."
Saying thank you
Many of us have seen the photos on the internet of "thank you stations" for drivers, with water and small snacks. Both Cessna and Moore have come across these and say they are very appreciated.
"Those are the small tokens of appreciation that help us realize how important we are to the community. And it definitely helps us get through our day," Moore said.
"There are several people who leave them out all year, which is appreciated because we're always working, not just during the busy season," Cessna said.
If leaving something may not be within budget or physical capacity, there are still ways to say thank you.
Moore says he appreciates seeing thank you signs, and Cessna says she always appreciates hearing a thank you, too.
"Verbal thank yous are always great. When we see a customer and they're genuinely thankful for their package, that's always nice," she said.
This story was reported from Detroit.