Thursday, November 12, 2015

I Gave Up A Million Dollars..

Okay so it wasn't cash in my hand or anything, but I did have the promise of the amount at some point in the future. You'll have to keep reading to find out how though.

I’m sure all of you have heard of UPS at some point. What you might not know is that they pay very well. One of the most important positions they have is that of package car delivery driver. This is the guy you’ve all seen, walking into stores and malls bringing packages with them. You’ve noticed him as he strides up to you or your neighbors door, sets down a package, knocking once and sets off for his car immediately afterward. These guys are legit. They work almost non-stop for up to 12 hours in a day, being hyper-vigilant every second of their driving and moving with utmost haste (while still following safety protocols) at each stop. These people are the rockstars of the package shipping world. And I was one of them.

One of the things you may not know about this position is that it is very difficult to obtain entry from off the street. UPS encourages and attempts to hire delivery drivers from inside the company exclusively. It’s an important position and they prefer to reward their current employees with this honor and opportunity as opposed to taking a chance on a random person off the street. This is completely understandable, I have heard it quoted by managers that it is far easier to retain employees than to hire and train new ones. After realizing that, you’ll also realize that it was quite a big deal when they called me up and asked me to apply for the position. Yes, they asked me to apply. Through an interesting set of circumstances I had applied to be a part-time package handler for UPS. This is the guy who sorts the packages and loads them into the package cars for delivery. I had a scheduled appointment to take a tour of the facility to see if I would still be interested in that position, life interfered and I ended up missing the tour completely and I put UPS out of my mind. After approximately a week, I received a call from one of the UPS area hiring personnel, he inquired as to whether I was still interested in the package handler position and I replied that I may be. He then proceeded to ask if I would be interested in being a driver, to which I responded something along the lines of “what’s that?” This UPS HR person then described the job in a few words and then told me I should fill out the proper application section on the website to be a driver and he would switch the interview focus to the driver position. He then asked when I could interview! The interview went pretty well, at least from my perspective, and I was called and offered the position of delivery driver a few days later.

At the time I was jumping for joy, what I heard was fairly simple work, regular full time hours, and a yearly salary that would quickly reach over $100,000! This was a dream come true. I could already see the two motorcycles, new car, and nice apartment in my near future.

And then reality hit. I attended a week long training seminar in a nearby town. The man training my class briefly told us his story. He was a veteran for the UPS company, he started working at 21 and worked his entire career at UPS until retirement. He clearly had more than his essential amount of fund. He drove a not inexpensive Mercedes Benz. He had everything that he was telling us the company could offer us. And here he was, back at the company after retirement, because all the money and success he told us of could not satisfy him or leave him fulfilled. And he was telling us we could have this too. I became rather introspective at this point. Wondering what had prompted me to leap at this chance without much forethought or planning. I was now in a position that I was being told was the best thing to ever happen to me, but the person telling me this was obviously so unfulfilled that he couldn’t even stand being without something in his life to continue filling his time after he retired. This is what my fate was?

I completed my training, acing some portions, barely passing others, I was pretty average for their normal trainee. And all this time, the trainer was telling me over and over how amazing this opportunity was and how much money I was going to make in this position. He speculated that with our pay we could easily be millionaires by the time was reached retirement. However, I began to feel as if the trade-off was rather severe. I calculated in my head the average number of weekly hours the trainer worked; he worked more than half his waking hours during the 30+ year period of his career. More than half of his life he spent at work. Not home with his family. Not out enjoying the trips and experiences and items all that money could provide. Not enriching himself or bettering his community. Just working. During the course of training, our trainer began to imprint upon us how much time we would be spending at our jobs, even explaining how we should show up a half-to-whole hour before our shift to get everything ready (wait, I thought the big idea with us wanting these jobs was supposed to be all the money and now you’re saying we’re going to spend even more time every day at work unpaid??) 50+ hours per week, at work by 8:30am, not getting home ‘til after 6:30pm and more likely after 7:30, vacation that I could take if I can convince all 17 drivers with seniority to let me have a particular period, 35 years of working the majority of my waking hours so I could retire feeling as unfulfilled as our trainer did. This was all starting to sound a little bit like a sentence, not an opportunity.

Returning home, I had to wait a week before going in for my first day driving for the local UPS facility. Naturally I was rather trepidatious as I hadn’t had the opportunity to apply any of my training yet. I was asked to arrive at the facility an hour before my scheduled shift so I could receive an hour of (unpaid) instruction in daily pre-shift preparation. Finally, my first shift started. It happened to be the area’s first frigid day, bringing the first real snowfall of the year. After working 10 hours with only a quick 20 minute break in the middle, I was miserable. Not just because of the cold, I had worked in worse outdoor conditions; it was because I could suddenly see the reality of how each day would go for the next 30 years. Waking up with just enough time to dress and eat breakfast, going to a job which had no opportunity for personal character development for me, and offered no professional growth or career opportunities, then returning home with just enough time in the evening to throw my uniform in the wash, eat dinner, and have a few quiet minutes before retiring to start the whole cycle over again. Things looked rather bleak.

I had vacated my most recent full time position because I felt it offered little more than a barely stable paycheck. Now I was about to trade in my sense of freedom and purpose, as well as the next 30 years of my life, for the promise of stacks of money which clearly didn’t satisfy those who already possessed it. So what was I doing? That evening, after much talking with God and internal discourse, I came to a conclusion. There was no pile of money that was worth trading in 30 years of invaluable time, or even just 5. The amount of things I could accomplish, for my personal growth, for the betterment of others, for the furtherance of the Gospel, in those years was not worth losing. I turned in my resignation the following morning.

So here I am, unfettered by my potential million dollars, but alive with purpose. I realize now how much time I’ve wasted. Not because of the job, but because I’ve simply used my time for frivolous things. I was chasing larger paychecks, enjoying too frequent periods of relaxation, and under-utilizing my influence which could spread God’s Word, enhance professional relationships, and create vital connections. I’m glad I took that job, and I’m glad I quit. I now know that I have no time to waste, every day must count in some way. Whether it is spent in quiet, personal reflection of my spiritual maturation, or out in the public, drumming up those relationships which will matter professionally or eternally, every day must have something in it of worth. I realize now that money is just a means to an end, a by-product of being personally successful, not a goal to chase that eventually gives you fulfillment in the end. My minutes are now more precious to me, my days are become a most valuable treasure. My chase is at its end.