Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Holiday work hours increase, wallets thicken

It’s Thanksgiving night, and you’ve just finished the delicious meal your parents have prepared for you. Home-cooked food feels amazing in your stomach compared to Sundowner burgers. But you’re still not satisfied.

Instead, you put on your winter coat and wait outside of the mall for those Black Friday sales. However, more and more people are waiting until Monday because why leave the comfort of your house when you can do your shopping online?

With more consumers shopping from home, deliverymen and warehouse workers are taking a beating because of consumer laziness.
Last year, UPS doubled its number of packages the week of Cyber Monday and delivered an estimated 32 million packages nationwide, according to local Omaha, Nebraska news channel KETV. This increase in packages also means an increase in shift hours.

My brother Joe, who has been working for UPS for more than six years, is no stranger to these intense conditions. He works double shifts during the holidays as a delivery helper and night-shift warehouse worker.
“I would say in recent years, sustainability has been quite problematic in the sense that e-shopping has become so commonplace,” Joe told me.

So commonplace, in fact, that sales increased by 20.6 percent last year, resulting in shoppers spending $2.29 billion online.
Many of these shoppers do not take into account the amount of labor this creates. Even I am no stranger to this labor. When I go home for Thanksgiving and winter breaks, I work at a wholesale flower warehouse where I haul huge bales of 60-inch wreaths onto trucks to be delivered to florists around the Northeast, including some florists in Plattsburgh such as Nelson’s and Plattsburgh Flower Market.

Working in a warehouse during the holiday season takes a lot out of you — and puts a lot in you, considering I find a handful of pine needles in my pocket once I get home. I can’t imagine working in one affected by Cyber Monday.

UPS was slammed so hard last year that they experienced a public relations issue with delayed and even missing packages. Shoppers were angered with an inconvenience they helped cause. But with parcel service headquarters in New York City processing 125 packages per second, it’s no wonder packages were delayed or even mis-sorted.

There is a benefit to these laborers who work overtime — the money. I broke every child labor law in the book back home. While I was in high school, I worked overnight on weekdays, operated forklifts unlicensed and spent anywhere from 10-14 hours picking flower orders and loading trucks, sometimes not having enough room on the truck for all of the packages. But I didn’t mind, since I had an endless amount of caffeine and was making decent money at the age of 16. Any warehouse worker will agree with me during the holiday season.

“From a monetary standpoint, my wallet isn’t complaining,” Joe said.

Although warehouse jobs are physically exhausting, the money makes them extremely worthwhile. Sure, being told the flower warehouse smells like Christmas by every single costumer that walks through the door is annoying as all hell. But I try not to be a Scrooge because I know the majority of people are in the holiday spirit and ready to go on shopping sprees. And if I don’t join them, how will I be able to partake in these crazed activities for my own family?

Even though the holidays make my job a nightmare, I wouldn’t be making the money I need for my education.

Email Chris Burek at opinions@cardinalpointsonline.com.

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