Diversity Career Stories Transportation

Twin Cities courier navigates treacherous conditions

This courier in Minneapolis and St. Paul explains all the challenges he faces in this career path, such as traffic jams, unorganized clients, and broken down vehicles. If you have ever been interested in the plight of a courier, then this interview is for you!

What is your job title and what industry do you work in? How many years of experience do you have in this field? How would you describe yourself using only three adjectives?
I work as a courier in the Twin Cities part of Minnesota. I’ve worked for 3 years in this field. I would describe myself as determined, strong, and funny.

How would you describe what you do? What does your work entail? Are there any common misunderstandings you want to correct about what you do?
I pick packages up from one location and deliver them to a different one. Difficulties often arise: traffic jams, vehicle performance issues, dangerous roads, and wrong addresses. Sometimes people don’t know what I’m suppose to pick up from their business; I go to the front door, they tell me to go the back door and at the next place I go to the back door and they tell me to go to the front, and so on. Sometimes things that seem simple turn out to be extremely onerous.

What’s your ethnicity and gender? How has it hurt or helped you? If you ever experienced discrimination, how have you responded and what worked best? Do you speak another language, and has it been helpful in your career?
I’m a white male. I don’t think it’s either helped or hurt me, but I could be wrong. Who knows. I speak a tiny bit of Spanish.

On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your job satisfaction? What might need to change about your job to unleash your full enthusiasm?
6 – A dependable vehicle would boost my enthusiasm, but I don’t think I’d ever get to a ten in the courier field.
It is nice to be alone with nobody constantly looking over my shoulder. The dispatchers gives me my assignments, and I figured out the most efficient way to take care of everything.

If this job moves your heart – how so? Ever feel like you found your calling or sweet spot in life? If not, what might do it for you?

No, it don’t move my heart. I’ve yet to find my sweet spot career-wise.

Is there anything unique about your situation that readers should know when considering your experiences or accomplishments?
My 2010 Ford Transit Connect van is a piece of junk. It’s not dependable but I can’t trade it because I owe too much and have too many miles on it. When parts malfunction they have to back order the parts because it’s new and I have to wait for weeks for the dealership to find them. It’s frustrating but I soldier on.

How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?
The economy was in rough shape so I started working as an independent contractor in the courier field. If I could go back I never would have purchased my Ford Transit Connect.

What did you learn the hard way in this job and what happened specifically that led up to this lesson?
I didn’t know my way around the Twin Cities metro before I started this job. Thanks to my GPS, I was able to find my way around and learn the lay of the land.

What is the single most important thing you have learned outside of school about the working world?
That nothing is promised to you. You’ve gotta bust your butt to earn some scratch.

What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you in this job?
One day I saw a man with no legs and one arm rolling down the sidewalk on a skateboard. He used his remaining limb to propel himself forward. After seeing this, I complained less for awhile.

Why do you get up and go to work each day? Can you give an example of something that really made you feel good or proud?
I get up and go to work because there are bills to pay. Every once in a while, I deliver something to somebody and they let me know how much they appreciate my lifting of heavy things or hauling stuff upstairs. When I know they truly are grateful of my efforts, it makes me feel good.

What kind of challenges do you face and what makes you just want to quit?
Traffic jams, rude people, vehicle failure, and deliveries to the Mall of America are some of the most challenging things I face in my job.

How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance? How?
It is often stressful- people get mad at me when their packages are late. Traffic raises my blood pressure. Vehicle failure frustrates me. I chew tobacco to cope and drink when I’m done driving for the day.

What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough and/or happy living within your means?
$35,000 but most of that goes back into the gas tank. I work long hours and can’t afford to pay all my bills on time. It is a sad state of affairs for a guy with a BA degree.

How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?
Hardly any because I can’t afford to. Nope, it’s not enough.

What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?
A high level of education is not required in this field but you have to know the streets. Patience, independent thinking skills, problem solving ability, knowledge of alternative routes, a strong back, and communication skills are all important.

What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?

Get a good vehicle and take damn good care of it.

If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?
Traveling and writing.