Alllllllright...I am back to the west coast and to start things off I am very private about my primary occupation that supports such endeavors as my webpage (not that anyone gives a shit) however, I would like to share my experience from another world--the world of transportation. First off, while training in the Midwest I was absolutely dyyyying for Mexican food (the pure Los Angeles street tacos where you do not asked where the meat came from) and my Gaming PC. The company I work for has supported me financially for over 11 years and although there have been ups and downs, I have always considered myself lucky to have such a position at United Parcel Service. Secondly, what I post on this article is solely the property of UPS and I took the photos for training and development purposes to educate future aspiring people looking through a small window of how UPS develops people. Lastly, the highest respect is given to the Corporate school in Chicago and what I write in this article barely touches on the actual experience. One cannot simply read and feel the experience. One would need to actually attend the class for the full feel of a once in a life time regiment. The feeling of teamwork, trust, failure, and perseverance.
The public has "their" views about UPS. UPS is a very private company often avoiding the media and only acting when action is needed. The company gets criticism from both consumers and the transportation world but our service has been around for over 100 years. I could write an entire column on the foundation of the company but this is not a history lesson. It is a small window in what I do and just one way the company develops their future leaders.
So back to my story, I was gone for a total of 11 weeks learning how to drive a tractor and trailer safely while applying the methods (a manual detailing the requirements in Federal rules and UPS). Not many pass Driver Trainer School a.k.a. "DTS." It is by far the toughest training regime put together by UPS. This is not a class for the little package car, which I do know how to drive and deliver. No, this is the operation of 10,000 lbs and more of equipment and the public disappointingly refuses to acknowledge on the road any over-sized vehicles. Meaning, speeding to get around, cutting in front, tailgating, and being a dumb-ass around tractor/trailer combinations. Therefore, the class is designed to overcome obstacles on the road, identify safety hazardous, and at all cost to avoid and accident/fatality producing situation. One may ask, why would UPS use so much resources to train their people? The answer is straightforward, the company does not want to be labeled as unsafe operation. We take pride in all of our drivers and supervisors working in the field on-road. The company takes care of their people by ensuring we come to work and we go home safely to our families.
Regardless, I was given the opportunity to take my package car driving skills to a new level. I was sent to Chicago, Illinois to train at a corporate school smacked in between a cornfield. The adventure was great, atleast for the driving portion but we will get to that in a few sentences. The instructors, I felt were an American Idol panel, or some reality-based show with 3 judges. Why does it seem things work better in 3's? Hell if I know...but of course I would get the instructor that wielded the red pen like Thor and his hammer. She wrote so much shit on my paperwork and assignments that I would get handed back to redo and before I even started to redo the assignment I was handed a new one. On top of everything, the courses strategy was to break the group down as a whole in order to build team work. The class of 9 students was tested everyday on our will, hopes, patience, and thought process. The 3 instructors were ruthless in their delivery of how we needed to perform and act! Nevertheless, that is the UPS way of development and training their people. It works, to a certain degree.
Driving across the Midwest was by far the best experience of my life. Coming from California and living in a world of urban sprawl and cities upon cities, once out of Chicago your ass was in farmland. In comparison, North California has factory-styled farmlands but in Illinois their farms were damn straight middle of no where and something I could relate to was Superman's hometown Smallville. While driving and training in my International tractor and pulling trailers, the class ventured into Wisconsin. For a 2 days I got to see the real Cheese State! Life in the Midwest is definitely slower than the lifestyle I am used too. In Appleton, Wisconsin we trained at a school designed to drive on wet pavement and react to accident producing situations.
In the end, I would like to add more about my experience but it would just be ongoing. I was able to make networked connections from the class of 9 in different states Oklahoma City, Nebraska, Kentucky, Montana, Cincinnati, and Chicago. Other UPSers with a different outlook in life and experiences. This team introduced me to Chicago style-hot dogs and Pizzas that were NOT made of plastic with the sauce on top and one slice needing to be eaten with a fork and knife. The food in the Midwest was clean and fresh. Unlike the shit I am eating here in California and how ironically Californians believe themselves to be healthy, in fact I strongly believe we are fed lies. In the Midwest the farms are right there within miles. Fried Chicken, mashed potatoes, and the corn tasted just so much more alive for me. Interestingly, my metabolism altered quite a bit! All in all, I learned that there is life outside of my worldview. The opportunity to travel and meet others from other states teaching me farming techniques and developing an ear for Country Music! Although I was tested physically, mentally and had many failures taking the class, my gains came with the building of relationships from people that I could not otherwise would have let in my life due to my inability to actually get out of California. Driving across Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan where very memorable. I will never forget the call-signs we gave one another and how pissed-off the instructors got when we aligned the equipment in the yard crooked.
Ryan is back. Ryan will be gaming. Ryan will be looking to travel more! The world is out there and should not have to come down to a work-life balance where work takes me to places. I should be taking myself to new places and personally developing myself. One last thing, I got "Top Gun Peer Trainer," which is one of two awards at UPS one could get in Chicago DTS. The toughest course one could ever experience. I thank my peers for voting and will never forget their guidance and I have given them, that is true teamwork. UPS is teamwork.