I had a winter job as a driver helper for UPS back when I was 19 to make some extra cash near the end of the year. It was an easy gig, though physically demanding. My job was to run packages to the houses, get people to sign or scan the boxes, and run back to the truck.
The managers were not cool. I’ve had a lot of random jobs here and there, but the managers were straight up rude there. One particular manager called me at 4:00am once to tell me that I needed to be at work in half an hour if I still wanted to stay in. It made no sense. Another manager yelled at me for something that someone else had messed up.
The sun used to set earlier in the day, I remember the creepy apartment complexes I had to deliver to. Sometimes, the UPS driver would stack up a cart and would have me walk around two complexes delivering packages while he did the following blocks. They were old apartments out at the end of a lonely street.
One Thursday evening, the truck driver I was working with and I met up with another driver behind a Wendy’s restaurant to split some packages. Basically, the other guy was new and delivering by himself. He needed help or he wouldn’t be able to get back home until 9pm. Apparently it’s something common that UPS drivers do to help each other out.
As they kept passing boxes onto our truck, I heard my driver say “Ah, come on man! Again?” I later found out that the truck loaders had been messing up and gave some of our packages to the other guy, so those boxes would be way off of the other driver’s route. No wonder the guy had such a hard time. He was supposed to sort his own packages too, so he was partly to blame.
After around 10 minutes, the truck was mostly empty but we had a pile of around 40 boxes left to deliver when I thought we were all done. My driver said we would follow the same plan, that he would drop me off at the group of apartments at the end of that one street, and he would zig zag through the other blocks to deliver the rest. He would then come back to pick me up.
Those old apartments had overgrown bushes and dead trees, the trash cans reeked of poop and urine, and the people who lived there would walk around in silence. I would normally just see them walk to the trashcans or to the laundry room. They would always avoid me or they would step out toward the trees to let me pass.
No hello, no good evenings.
The driver dropped the dolly and stacked up the boxes in order for me, gave me the scanner, and asked me to start at the far end. It had something to do with how he sorted it. He apologized, but was in a hurry, so I didn’t say anything. Normally you would distribute as you go deeper into the complexes, that way you return with an empty dolly instead of having to carry everything and empty it as you come back.
There were some random ice chests, with I’m assuming had medicine, some tubes, and oddly shaped boxes. With all the potholes in the parking lot, as I was approaching complex C, my dolly’s right wheel got stuck and the whole thing shifted and my boxes fell. All of them.
A man came out from around the corner of the building and asked if I was okay, and he picked up some of the packages. He was pale, bald, and skinny. Something was off about this guy. He was helping me stack them back up, but he was also looking through them. Sometimes even flipping the boxes over to find the label. I asked him if he was expecting a package and he grabbed one, said, “this is mine” and put it under his arm.
I had finished stacking my now unordered dolly, when he started walking away. I asked him to stop and to let me scan it. He said that I didn’t have to, that it was okay. I said no. But he hurried off and opened up his apartment door, number 3, and shut the door right in front of me while I just stood there, without knowing what to do. Was I supposed to leave my boxes unattended in the parking lot and go talk to the guy?
It was dark out, and only the orange street lights that still worked illuminated the empty parking lot. I figured I would come back to his apartment and ask to scan the box. I need to scan the boxes otherwise customers can claim that it never got delivered and they get their money back. And it would be my fault.
On my way to the end of the whole property, around building H, I called the driver but he didn’t answer his phone. I started scanning, knocking, and handing packages to the people in the apartments. Nobody seemed to have families, and apparently they didn’t like to keep their lights on. Every apartment was dimly lit.
I had two packages left, one for complex C and one for an apartment located at the front, by the gate.
I checked the package, Charles Smith, Apt 3. Either that crazy guy had another package, or he grabbed the wrong one. I went to the apartment and knocked on the door. I heard shuffling inside, and he opened the door quickly. He seemed stressed out and said, yes yes yes, this is it, this is it, yes yes yes. He had a sinister look in his eyes and the strangest smile you can imagine. He reached for the box, which I had already scanned, but I held onto it tightly. I told him that I needed to scan the label on the other box.
“For what?” He asked.
I didn’t want to explain myself, but I did anyway. He really didn’t want to bring out the box. I told him he was stealing and that I would have to report it. That seemed to scare him, but he became nervous and started stuttering even more. He said the address had been messed up, and lots more that I couldn’t really understand. My phone started ringing and I saw that it was the driver I was working with. I answered it there in front of the crazy guy, which he took as an opportunity to shut the door. I tried to explain to the driver what was happening and he told me to give him the building and apartment number.
“Building C.. number 3.”
He said he would be right over.
Still with that box in my hand, I went over to the front building and delivered the last package and waited for the driver. He showed up right away and we both walked over to the apartment. On the way, the driver took my scanner thing and pressed some buttons. He said that there was one last package to deliver. I had already scanned apartment 3’s package, the only one missing was the one that the crazy guy had. He had the package for his neighbor in apartment 4.
I warned the driver that the guy was creepy and had something weird going on inside of his apartment.
When I knocked again, he seemed to be right by the door because he opened it immediately and practically lunged himself toward the box. He wasn’t wearing a shirt now and he was sweaty. It was pretty nasty. I was able to hold onto the box while the driver tried to explain what was happening, basically telling him that he had the wrong box.
He went inside and left his door open. I took a look inside the apartment. There were red lights, like the kind you’d find in an old photo development lab. I kept hearing muffled voices. Suddenly, he came out with a jar, stuck his hands in, and sprayed us with the liquid. I felt it sting my eyes. He started chanting and laughing, turning around to say Jacqueline enough! Jacqueline be quiet! He kept chanting while we took steps back, blocking our faces with our arms.
Then he closed the door, and started laughing hysterically once he got inside. He got the box from me, which was fine since it was his. But he didn’t return the package he stole. The driver said we would just leave a note with his neighbor about the missing package, and that he would report the box as stolen or missing.
We hurried back to the truck, both of us wiping our eyes from what had just happened. The shift was over. The ride back to the parking lot was quiet, both of us were trying to process what had just happened. I signed my time sheet when he dropped me off, and I got into my car.
I went to grab a bite to eat and then straight back to my dorm. The building was mostly empty, except for other students taking winter classes. My roommate was out and with his family. I took out my Carl’s Jr burger, ate it, and sat in front of the TV. Before I knew it, I fell asleep but I was woken up by loud static noise from the TV, but my eyes wouldn’t open all the way. All I could see was the blue light from the screen through my eyelids, and I started to panic. I heard laughter and more static.
What was wrong? Why couldn’t I open my eyes? I wanted to scream but my mouth wouldn’t make a sound either. I felt my face stretch downward. It was the strangest feeling.
I decided it was best to stop fighting it and just try to relax and try to go back to sleep, that everything would be fine. I had countless nightmares in the span of 5 hours that seemed to last forever.
I woke up at 4:30am to a text message from the UPS driver. I was feeling tired, but somewhat normal again.
“Not feeling good. Take the day off. I’ll write down your hours.”
The next day, I got a call from a manager. They said I was being transferred to another UPS driver. I asked why, but he didn’t offer an explanation. Typical managers.
I texted my old UPS driver asking him what happened. He told me that part of his face had gotten paralyzed and that he went to the doctor to get it checked out. He would be back to work in a couple of weeks.
It didn’t click then, but later on I realized that my face had gotten paralyzed. That same night. What had that guy done to us?
I got reassigned and everything went back to normal. My new UPS driver had a different route, but one time, we got some packages by mistake. This guy was quick, so we had more than enough time to deliver to those addresses.
There they were. Packages to the same apartment complex. Charles Smith.. Complex C. Apartment 3. Jacqueline Stewart, Complex C… Apartment 4.