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Special delivery man

June 09, 2002|by ANDREA ROWLAND

On an average day, United Parcel Service driver Bryan Durning delivers 300 packages and picks up 200 more as he makes his rounds in downtown Hagerstown.

The clock starts ticking when driver Bryan Durning slides behind the wheel of "Big Brown," United Parcel Service truck No. 115248.

The veteran Hagerstown UPS driver will deliver an average of 300 packages before picking up about 200 more during his shift, which doesn't end until the truck is empty, he said.

Durning will hustle to deliver UPS priority packages before 10:30 a.m. each weekday, remaining focused on road safety and customer service despite his nonstop schedule.

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Many of Durning's customers said last week that he's still smiling even after hours of running.

"I try to take each day 110 percent and do the best I can to satisfy my customers. In this job, you work with people and they work with you. To us, it's more than just a package. It could be somebody's livelihood," said Durning, 35, of Smithsburg.

"But it's all about time. It's a quick 'hi' and a quick 'bye.' It's a vicious pace with little room for error. Let's face it, time is money."

More than 200 employees help process about 30,000 packages each day at UPS' Hagerstown warehouse at 217 E. Oak Ridge Drive, Business Manager Rod Weagley said.

Managers begin preparing for the delivery and pick-up day at 3:30 a.m. - one hour before other employees arrive to sort and load the thousands of packages that tractor-trailers deliver to the warehouse early each morning.

Each loader is responsible for three to four trucks, Weagley said.

Following "load diagrams," they pull the packages off conveyor belts sandwiched between row upon row of about 70 trucks, and load them into the trucks in sequential delivery order based upon addresses, Weagley said.

Such time-sensitive freight as Next Day Air packages - which are guaranteed delivery by 10:30 a.m. - are loaded at the front or rear of the trucks for quick access, he said.

"A loader makes you or breaks you," said Durning, who has worked the same downtown Hagerstown route for the past 10 of his 17 years with UPS.

The company has "zero tolerance" for late Next Day Air package deliveries, he said, and the easiest way for that to happen is for priority packages to be carelessly loaded.

Employees load all packages, except those destined for customer pickup, at the warehouse by about 8:30 a.m. Within the next 20 minutes, nearly 70 brown-clad drivers will carefully maneuver their chocolate-colored trucks out of the tightly packed warehouse to deliver packages throughout Washington County and the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia.

8:50 a.m. - Durning checks the load in his truck, noting his first five delivery stops.

9 a.m. - He inspects his truck before departing the Hagerstown warehouse.

Durning and all other UPS drivers do a basic vehicle check before they depart on their daily delivery routes. They inspect truck parts such as wheel lug nuts, mirrors, lights, door catches, gauges, horns and hand breaks to make sure they are in proper working order.

9:08 a.m. - Durning delivers his first package at a residence on Frederick Street. Homeowner Prudence Heaney pops her head out of an upstairs window.

"He's the best UPS man," she calls down.

9:09 a.m. - Durning departs for his second delivery, the biggest of the day, at Washington County Hospital's delivery warehouse off Antietam Street.

9:15 a.m. - He delivers 73 packages to the hospital warehouse and starts to break a sweat.

"We expect to see racing stripes and flames coming out of his truck. He's so fast and efficient," warehouse worker Brenda Embly says.

9:22 a.m. - Durning departs the hospital warehouse. He plugs his portable delivery computer into an adapter in his truck to send the packaging information that he has scanned - number of packages, tracking numbers, times and dates of delivery and digital signatures of recipients - to a central UPS computer. The information is updated every 10 minutes, he says.

Durning keeps his hectic pace throughout the day. He spends an average of 45 seconds at a residential delivery stop. His commercial stop times vary depending upon the number of packages he is delivering.

9:46 a.m. - He delivers several packages to Mary Reichert on the third floor of Hagerstown City Hall on Potomac Street. Durning is always pleasant but never verbose.

"He's always so polite and efficient and he never grumbles when you have to return packages," Reichert said. "And he looks cute in shorts, too."

9:48 a.m. - Durning bounds down the stairs at City Hall en route to his next delivery.

He doesn't have a radio in his truck because music might distract him, he said. Durning constantly scans surrounding traffic, looks for suspicious trailing vehicles, and thinks three to five stops ahead.

He attributes his spotless safety record to his undivided concentration on the task at hand.

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