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What you need to know for 02/24/2017

Flood of holiday packages added to usual fare keeps UPS driver hopping

Flood of holiday packages added to usual fare keeps UPS driver hopping

Men in red are popular in December — so are men and women in brown.
Flood of holiday packages added to usual fare keeps UPS driver hopping
Katy Crowe is all smiles to see UPS service provider Robert Mazzucco deliver a package of King Arthur Flour along Cambridge Road in Albany on Thursday morning.
Photographer: Marc Schultz

Bob Mazzucco honked his horn and slowly backed his big brown to the loading docks at the state Department of Transportation in Albany.

He was out of the 22-foot-long truck quickly. It was just after 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, and Mazzucco had already been on the move for two hours. Now he was in the W. Averell Harriman State Office Building Campus between Washington and Western avenues.

“Hi, it’s UPS,” Mazzucco said, talking into a small intercom box. “Just bring the small cart.”

Men in red are popular in December — so are men and women in brown. People in the latter, earth-toned uniforms work for United Parcel Service, and the weeks before the holiday season are their busiest of the year.

Mazzucco, 48, a 1983 graduate of the former Linton High School in Schenectady and now a resident of Glenville, has been on the run at UPS for the past 19 years. Dressed in light brown jacket, pants and baseball-style UPS cap, he unloaded four 50-pound boxes of building materials for transportation department employees. A man with a small cart appeared and waited to bring the goods inside.

“How you doing, partner?” Mazzucco asked. “I don’t think you have much today, which is a good thing, right?”

Busiest time

A couple of small boxes and plastic containers also were on the list for the DOT. Delivery completed, Mazzucco got back into the truck with the wide windows in front and “UPS” shield on the side. At 11:41, he drove his vehicle — one of the new UPS hybrid electrics — around the office complex traffic oval and headed toward a trailer owned by Ferguson Mechanics. Ferguson was getting two of the 300 parcels on board.

Mazzucco, and others who work out of the Albany-Latham UPS headquarters, spend only a minute or two at each stop. Seven hundred men and women are normally part of the Capital Region operation. Three hundred additional men and women dress in brown for the holiday season. Each truck makes more than 200 stops a day, and with helpers, deliver about 450 packages and large envelopes.

On Wednesday, UPS in Albany-Latham had its peak December day — 71,000 deliveries. The Albany trucks deliver as far north as Ballston Spa, head east to the Massachusetts state line, south to Ravena and weast into Schenectady. Other UPS drivers work out of Johnstown, Glens Falls and Hudson.

Nationally, the numbers are big. According to UPS statistics, the 105-year-old company will deliver more than 500 million packages around the world during holiday time. Fifty-five thousand seasonal employees have been hired.

“I love my job, there’s a lot of gratification,” Mazzucco said. “It’s a hard day’s work; you feel good about yourself at the end of the day.”

Quick stops

The Ferguson crew is working a construction project at the complex. At 11:43, Mazzucco dropped off two large boxes with plumbing foreman Jack Thomas.

“Air filters,” Thomas said.

Mazzucco set course for the Department of Corrections. He waited for a spot in the docking bay — guys from Troy Motor Services of Watervliet had been making machinery repairs and were loading equipment. Once they cleared out, at 11:48, Mazzucco pulled UPS truck 152183 in for some drops. Seven 30-plus pound boxes — paper products — came out of the truck. So did eight large envelopes, some kind of mail.

“Fifteen, all right,” said the Corrections man on the dock. “Sold,” said Mazzucco, and rolled down the metal door on the back of the truck.

At 11:51, Mazzucco continued his tour of New York. “Forensics lab, state police,” he said.

Mazzucco expected he’d be working until about 8 p.m., but the day would get a little easier. During the early afternoon, he would pick up a helper. The two-man team would deliver boxes and envelopes to state offices and homes on streets off Western Avenue.

“I’ve got a young 21-year-old guy, and he moves,” Mazzucco said. “I’m lucky I’ve got him.”

Mazzucco and other UPS staffers have also been lucky with the weather. Snow has not been in the air, not been on the roads. Packages have shipped into Albany without problems. Easy driving means easier deliveries.

“I haven’t put my chains on yet,” Mazzucco said. “We get snow on the ground, those chains go on.”

The forensics drop was another quick stop. Mazzucco knows the man who accepts deliveries at the lab. This stop looked like office supplies.

“This is for your son,” the man said, presenting Mazzucco with a Christmas present for 5-year-old Jacob “J.T.” Mazzucco.

“Thanks so much,” Mazzucco said, surprised by the gesture. “That’s really nice of you.”

Making the right turns

At noon, Mazzucco was heading out of the office complex. “I really like this route a lot,” he said. “There’s a lot of nice people on this route.”

Mazzucco drove down the long “driveway” off the state oval and turned right onto Western Avenue, Albany’s Eagle Hill neighborhood. He passed Beacon Avenue and Sunset Avenue on the left, Eagle Point Elementary School and Stewart’s Shop at Russell Road, also on the left.

He passed Oxford Road on the right and arrived at the next street on the right, Cambridge Road. All UPS trucks follow routes that give drivers right turns only; no left turns mean no waiting for traffic to pass in oncoming lanes. That means quicker deliveries.

Mazzucco made the right on Cambridge. Bunches of houses were scheduled for visits. At the first house, Mazzucco put a large envelope inside the front door. A large package he hid behind a large Christmas-style plant on the front step. It was 12:10 p.m., and several other stops on Cambridge followed.

“Amazon is big this year, up more than 40 percent over last year,” Mazzucco said, aware that he was bringing many people their purchases from the online music, book and movie giant.

When Mazzucco drives, he also drives with his son. The kindergartner’s pictures and a puzzle he made for his father are pasted above the windshield on the passenger side. “If I’m having a tough day, I look up and it puts a smile on my face,” Mazzucco said.

At a Cambridge address, Mazzucco prepared to put a smile on another face. Katey Crowe was just going inside her home when Mazzucco pulled up. She knew the UPS package was from King Arthur Flour in White River Junction, Vt.

“These are my favorite things,” Crowe said, of the gingerbread mix and Christmas dishes inside.

Clarendon Road was the next street over, and the next right turn for UPS. Presents from L.L. Bean and Hawaiian Surf — fresh papaya — were going places. It was about 12:30, and almost time for Mazzucco to make a pick-up instead of a delivery. A second set of legs in brown pants would soon be on the run.

“Twenty-five stops in one hour,” Mazzucco said, anxious to keep going.

“On the Clock” profiles people at work in the Capital Region by spending one hour with them on the job. Nominate a friend or co-worker by contacting Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 395-3124 or wilkin@dailygazette.com.

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