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A Sticky Situation

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s been a weird, sometimes seemingly unrelated journey, to start where I’ve started and to now be where I am today.


When I look back, events and courses of such events also make sense. It’s the here and now that I’ll often times second guess, but the past? I can easily weave my path with those of others to process and retell it all.


My dad hated his job. He had reason to. Prior to going into package delivery with UPS he worked in their parts division where he had a relatively “cushy” job. During this time there was a strike and while I don’t remember all the details I remember that there had been an incident (my father had no part in it) between two of the UPS divisions/buildings in the state. My father’s building had been involved along with another one (we’ll just fictitiously call Springfield) which was close by, in a dispute of sorts. Words were had, tempers boiled over, apparently, there had been a big to do.


Years passed and my father’s building wound up closing up and moving to TN. My father had the option to relocate us all to TN, get an even more cushy office job, make more $, and get help with moving expenses. I was half way through high school. My sister was in middle school. Most of our grandparents were still alive and living in CT along with roughly 90% of our family. My father knew none of us wanted to leave. He opted to stay.


As fate would have it, he along with roughly 5 other guys that opted not to move to TN, wound up getting transferred to, you guessed it, THAT other building in Springfield. And the Springfield peeps had most definitely not forgotten THE incident that had occurred several years earlier. Management was hell bent on making sure that the new guys didn’t last… didn’t matter if the guys had been involved in the incident or not… they were all guilty by association and targeted accordingly.


My dad had to get through 2 years in package delivery. If he made it, he could transfer out into “Feeders” (a much easier and even better paying position) before he retired. Our family set a countdown clock and we knew… we knew those two years would be bad. That would be an understatement.


*************


In order to get him to quit my dad was given a commercial delivery route. Every single day his box truck would be stuffed to the point that a single envelope couldn’t be added to the back. He delivered to funeral homes, clothing, tea, and carpet manufacturers, a bowling alley, an auto body repair shop, and hundreds more. To give you an idea of how rigorous of routes the Springfield division created for the “new hires,” after my dad made his two years, his route had to be split into three smaller routes because they couldn’t keep anyone on the job for more than two weeks. My father was the only one that made it the two years without retiring early.


When you deliver packages for UPS you are timed down to the second. Big UPS knows how long it should take you to get from point A to B and from B to C and how long it should take you to get in and out of the vehicle while buckling and or unbuckling your seat belt and starting the ignition all in one swift movement, the key kept securely on the driver’s finger. You need to hustle.


Unfortunately on one particular day… the hustle got a lot less hustle-y as the day progressed.

Just like any other day, this one started with an absolutely packed f’ing truck. As was customary, his last deliveries would be crammed all the way into the front of the back of the truck. His first deliveries would be in the back and his “Next Day Airs” would be in the very, very back.


He started with those. “Next Day Airs” had to be delivered by ten am. According to him, this part of his day was completely normal. He really wouldn’t have known anything was amiss until a little while later when he picked up a box that took a little more oomph than one would assume a box said size and listed weight should take to pick up.


He probably wouldn’t have even given the little box that required a little bit of extra effort to remove from the truck and deliver a second thought had there not been another box…


Same thing at the next delivery, another box that just felt a little bit more ‘difficult’ to lift. Which soon became the norm… except that with each delivery and each box my father managed to wrangle out of the brown box truck, there was more resistance.


And by his lunch break?


The ‘resistance’ had turned into a downright big-o-problemo… the fucking boxes were now straight up sticking to one another. My dad would pick up a box for the auto-body shop and a box for the tea distributors would be affixed to the auto-body shop box and there was my dad, desperately trying to beat the clock and unstick the boxes from not only the floor of the truck, but now each other.


Had the job not been so high stress, at this point my father probably would have found it almost comical, his driving gloves were now covered in some sort of sticky substance, he was having difficulty handing off his stylus for customers to sign for deliveries (everything was sticking to his gloves) and the boxes continued to get more and more ‘tacky’ and stuck to one another by the ho.


One of my dad’s last stops was the bowling alley and by this point he could just about walk in the back of his truck. He was sticking stiffly to the floor with each step. The boxes were getting almost impossible to move without considerable effort and my father was hopelessly behind schedule. There was a large box my father attempted to deliver to the alley. He tried to move the box but it wouldn’t budge. It felt like the cardboard had been welded to the truck floor. He gave it a shove… nothing. Frustrated he gave it his all and lifted with all his might and the box came free with a jolt, except the bottom of the box remained fused to the bottom of the truck.


Unfortunately the box’s contents… bowling balls and pins, did not remain on the bottom of the truck. They were off with the shear force of their newfound freedom and a little help from New England’s hilly terrain. These fuckers were off… bouncing towards cars, businesses, the street, my father desperately chasing after them, his work boots sticking to the pavement as he did his best to corral the unruly bowling alley delivery.


My father would later laugh that by the time he managed to get all the balls and pins back into the torn up, terribly sticky box and deliver it to its destination, that the alley’s owner took one look at him, and quickly did his best to sign for the sticky stylus without saying a word about the busted up box and its contents.


It wasn’t long after that delivery that my father was nearly upon the end of his day and his last few stops when he discovered the problem. My dad’s last stop of the day (and therefore the first items loaded into the truck) was a delivery for the carpet manufacturer’s business. He was going to be delivering several large 50 gallon drums of carpet glue stacked on top of each other from the truck’s floor to the ceiling. My father didn’t have to read what was in the drums. He knew exactly what they were and now he knew exactly why everything had been so sticky and hard to move, nearly every single one of the 50 gallon drums of carpet glue had been pierced clean through when the box truck was packed chock-full that very morning.


All throughout the day the glue had slowly, steadily oozed from the thick cardboard drums. The glue ran between the boxes. The glue made its way down to the very back of the truck, coating the truck’s bed, my dad’s work boots, the bottoms of boxes. The glue covered my dad’s hands, the truck’s steering wheel, the door handle, the keys, the seat belt, his stylus… everything. Thick, tacky, industrial strength carpet glue. Everywhere.


I’m not sure how my mom got the glue off of his stuff. I’d venture to guess my dad tossed the work gloves and once the soles of his boots finally dried, he was probably good to go.


What I do know though is that my dad loathed his job. Not all of it, but those two years where he felt pinned to the wall, the stress all on him, so much riding on him not quitting… my dad loathed that feeling and he never wanted me to feel “stuck” somewhere either. Which is why he said, he worked so hard so that my sister and I would always have options.


*********

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s been a weird, sometimes seemingly unrelated journey, to start where I’ve started and to now be where I am today. My dad’s loathe for his job, his feeling of being quite literally and figuratively stuck, his story… has been intertwined into mine. His experiences are markers on my path. His glue-y day has helped me decide my path…


It would take me a few decades after the gluey day to figure out what I wanted to do and that’s ok because I already knew, thanks to my dad’s journey, that I didn’t ever want to feel backed into a corner… and I guess thanks to his tenacity and some shared ‘highly stubborn’ DNA, we know a thing or two about “sticking to things”.


Thanks dad.



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