Hill Sleet Blues

I was this close to being a UPS driver. Long story that ends on my first day with the supervisor whod driven the route that day telling me to take over and drive the truck back to the shop, and to not worry cause someday Id be as good a UPS driver as he. All day Id been thinking about how many hours UPS drivers work, which prompted me to ask him, before I sat in and drove us to the shop, if full time UPS driving leaves time for doing theatre plays. He said no, and after a seriously deep ponder I said, Steve, I dont want to do this job. If my training has cost the company any money Ill pay it back. He said better now then later, calmly drove us to the plant, and I was off to become an actor. I love UPS. I love the drivers, the company, the trucks, the internal mechanism Id learned in the schooling, and I even like the brown. Thats why Im disappointed UPS, from November to April, does not deliver to my home. My house sits at 1,500 feet on a mountain range, its the last up a rather steep well-maintained, solid, thrice serpentined road. Its a road my little ole Ma in her Saturn Vue, and my one employee Barb in her whatever little car, in varying types of weather, have never had a problem getting up. Let me repeat, I love the UPS guys and gals, theyre great, and I respect them deciding my hill is a tough one to tackle. My problem is not the employees calling the late fall winter deliveries off that gets my nanny goat, its the fact that UPS doesnt have equipment that would give the drivers confidence to go where all men and women can, have, and will go. If UPS can fabricate a picture truck for television commercials thats racetrack ready, surely they can hook a few rigs with 6x6-narl enough to get around Vermonts green hills and mountains. What can Brown do for me? Deliver my packages to my house a good part of the year. For two years Id been looking to buy a leather chair and ottoman, and a week or so ago I took the plunge. I wanted it to arrive, if not before Christmas day, during Christmas week, so my sister could use it to her advantage as she reads, cat on her lap, in front of the woodstove. Potter Barn said the furniture would arrive for delivery December twenty-first, and maybe even before that. I was thrilled to get a call December eleventh, saying the chair would be delivered the twelfth, that is if I could be home from 11 am to 4 pm. I could and was, but it never came. The delivery companys truck through some ill luck had gotten stuck up where the wood is indeed chuck, in Craftsbury Common. The owner of the New Hampshire delivery company called me Wednesday evening to say they were sorry and that my delivery would be first thing, 7:30, Thursday morning. Thursday at 9:30 a.m. Id had three calls into the company politely asking if they could track my stuff. They couldnt, driver out of range. On the third call I asked the gal if I could leave and if she could have the trucker folks drop my goods off in my garage. She said sure. (Id been told the trucker knew the territory and could find my house) My phone rang just as I got in my car to leave and the truck driver told me hed be there in 15 minutes and asked me how my road was. I said it was good, but he wanted me to meet him at the bottom just in case. He arrived a cheerful capable soul, but as he turned onto my road, his rear wheels spun like a grand growing nest of cotton candy. Lucky my rig was big enough that the trucker could load both chair and ottoman in. In both cases, UPS, and the furniture truck, my wonderment isnt pointed toward the vehicle operators, its pointed to the folks running the companies. I wonder, if you pride yourself and make your hay delivering things big and small, to homes and businesses in Vermont in Vermont, let me say it again, in Vermont, in the winter, and you dont have vehicles equipped to complete your advertised service, dont you at least partially suck at it? Sure, some days are so icy Wayne Gretzky couldnt skate to a home that sits completely flat in the middle of town, but, there are also days, like today, when the snow is so crunchy and cold that Perry Mason could wheel his ass to my house backward pulling a wagon load of jurors. Again, I want to say, UPS guys and gals, I love ya, youre some of the hardest, polite and capable workers in America, and Im totally serious when I say that, and I wouldnt care less if on a particularly slick or snowy day you called in saying youve left my package at the neighbors, but to just simply stop cold turkey delivering up my hill all winter long, is to me cold notice your company needs a few stouter rigs. And the trucking company I mean man, get some winter tires, or get at least one four wheeler, and deliver the stuff, dont get stuck one night (incidentally, this storm was minor), and have to unload into my truck at the bottom of a hill the next. Youre not a delivery company, youre an Ill meet ya somewhere close with your stuff if you dont mind, company. I have a friend who has a friend who scoffs at my road. The guy says I cant expect my friends to come visit and I should be glad if anyone would even consider as much. Hes very serious, and I cant understand his view. To prove my road is purely and truly one of the best built and easily passable roads in the world, I would like to meet him at the bottom every day for a year, at a time he chooses, and drive his rig backwards up the hill, with one eye covered, while whistling the 1812 Overture. Furthermore if hed like, Ill have my 77-year-old mom in her rocket car of a dinky silver front wheel drive putt-putt, drive him up to my house any day after 90 percent of the storms we have this year. My Christmas party last year fell during a bad ice storm. The worst part of it came after the folks had arrived, so, many of them left a bit early for fear theyd bite it on the way home. Over the course of an hour and a half the departing folks would call not 5 minutes after leaving to report of the, Bad, Treacherous, Awful, road conditions, especially on my hill. Im not going to argue that during an ice storm, my hill isnt one you want to be practicing hill starts on, but its doable. Allow me to prove my point. Id hired a gal to help at the party. Shes young and had a brand new Audi. Hearing the nervous-nelly calls come in was making her wonder if shed be able to make it down off my hill. I told her not to worry, and that Id drive in front of her down the hill in my rig. I remarked how interesting it was the folks calling with the dire news of my road conditions had all called safe and sound, well past and on their merry way from the bottom of the hill, which was, Proof, I told her that my road was not only safe, but probably grippy enough for her and I to stop dead at the steepest most feared part of the road. Thats just what we did. Not only did I stop on the steepest part, but I got out and walked back to her car and shouted through her window, See? Her and I, in separate cars, made it down the hill perfectly safe. Today I watched a man in an electric wheel chair, his little electric wheel chair tires spinning in about 6 inches of snow, trying to cross the road. I was five cars back wondering why someone close to him didnt get out of their car to push the man clear and across the road. Just as I got out to go help, someone in the front car did the same and helped the man to the other side of the road where he took off north up the sidewalk. As I drove even with the man, I noticed hed come upon another stretch of heavy slushy snow. With his wheelchair once again in full arrest, he slung his dangly left leg out to push in earnest, as he rocked his thin body fore and aft, in hopes the confluence of action might lend just enough momentum to keep himself heading fro. Im not sure the guy in the electric wheel chair made it to his destination that day, but I was impressed with both his internal and external unction. Maybe UPS can cash in some chips and score one or two mountain type rigs. Same goes for the furniture delivery company. My friends friend, the guy who wouldnt expect me to get visitors, he should if hed like; 1. Not come visit. 2. Realize if someone doesnt want to visit me, Im fine with it. My party invitees; Next time you dont go off the road, maybe you shouldnt call people and scare them into thinking they might. Also, next party I have, dont worry, there will be parking at the bottom of the hill. Im hiring a dude in an electric wheelchair to shuttle you up and back.

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