By Paul Ziobro | Photographs by Christopher Gregory-Rivera for The Wall Street Journal 

More puppies and more husbands.

Those are among the telltale signs that this holiday season is unlike any other for Jenny Rosado in the three decades since she became a driver for United Parcel Service Inc.

"All of a sudden, there are all these new men in the homes," said the 53-year-old Ms. Rosado, who delivers packages out of the Stratford, Conn., hub. The animal lover also sees more dogs, and she greets them with treats, adding: "I made a lot of new puppy friends."

The contents of her truck have become noticeably different, too. Shipments to homes rose by one-third at UPS in its third quarter, as consumers order everything from toilet paper to trampolines online instead of going to stores. She says she's delivering more meal kits, desks for children learning remotely and workout equipment.

She is also chatting more, at a distance, with homebound people looking for human contact. "There is a lot more interaction now," she said.

Here's a typical day for Ms. Rosado during the atypical 2020 peak shipping season:

5 a.m.: Ms. Rosado wakes up and dons her brown UPS uniform, with one major change from season's past: a brown camouflage mask with UPS emblazoned on the side. After feeding her dogs and preparing her lunch, she heads for a 50-minute drive to the UPS distribution center in Stratford.

7:30 a.m.: After arriving at the building, Ms. Rosado puts out extra masks, hand sanitizer and wipes on a table for drivers, as part of her role on the building's safety committee. She also leads some prework communications meetings, or PCMs, that remind drivers about safety tips to keep in mind while out on the road.

Sometimes, with the help of an art-savvy co-worker, she'll draw out traffic scenarios on a blackboard or create cartoons on cardboard, including a recent one that addressed depression. "Just to let them know that they aren't the only person that is having a hard time with isolation," she said.

9 a.m.: Ms. Rosado spends a few minutes wiping down key areas of her truck -- the steering wheel, handbrake, mirrors and door handles -- and spraying other areas with Lysol disinfectant before leaving on her route.

During peak season, Ms. Rosado is paired with a driver's helper to deliver the increase in package volume. She's worked with the same helper the last four years. "I bring him hand sanitizer so he can constantly clean his hands," she said.

Her route in Fairfield, Conn., is largely residential, with a few commercial stops mixed in. At schools, workers typically meet her outside and bring in packages themselves. A local golf course set up a tent to accept all deliveries. A church recently ordered a batch of foam pool noodles, which kids used in a game of socially distanced tag.

With a rise in Covid-19 cases, residents have begun ordering more toilet paper, hand sanitizer and wipes to their homes. She now calls Mondays "Hello Fresh Mondays" due to all the orders of the meal kits that homes receive that day.

She says people along her route generally aren't too wary about her visits and seem to enjoy her company. She recently stopped to chat with a mother who was hiding out in her garage from the rest of her family, trying to get a break.

6 p.m.: Ms. Rosado pulls into the hub to drop off her truck, and heads to the bathroom to wash her hands once again. When she gets into her car to drive home, she wipes her face, and sprays her shoes and clothes with Lysol. "It's my new perfume," she said.

Write to Paul Ziobro at Paul.Ziobro@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 24, 2020 11:09 ET (16:09 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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