Updated on 12.21.11

FedEx Delivery and Your Career

Trent Hamm

If you’ve been watching the news the past few days, you’ve probably seen the infamous video of the FedEx deliveryman who just tosses a computer monitor delivery over a fence. Here’s the video if you haven’t seen it:

As I write this, FedEx has said that they’ve merely “disciplined” the driver, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that he didn’t have a job come January.

So why am I mentioning this on here?

I want you to step back for a moment and put yourself in this guy’s shoes. Right now, it’s Christmas, so his working conditions are pretty miserable at the moment.

He has a ton of packages deliver and a lot of pressure from his boss to make the deliveries as fast as possible – and probably personal reasons to get done quickly, too.

He has a computer monitor, strolls up to a front door of a gated house that looks pretty nice – probably in a nicer neighborhood than he can afford to live in.

He’s likely not allowed to leave the package unoccupied on the front step, so the only option is to put it over this rather tall fence.

He could try climbing up to put it over the top, but that would take him a few minutes – putting him behind schedule and probably facing the wrath of his boss and perhaps his family – and perhaps he’s afraid of heights.

He’s frustrated, he’s tired, and he just doesn’t want to deal with it, so he makes a bad call.

That one bad call has probably cost him his job and has also made him the target of a viral video and a lot of sarcasm.

I’m not justifying the behavior of the guy in the video. He obviously could have handled the situation much better than he did.

Instead, I want you to take a second and imagine one of your worst days at work. Your boss is making tons of demands on you, you’re swamped with work, you’ve got a lot of personal worries, and it looks like you’re never going to leave.

In the stress of the moment, you make a bad call.

Most of us never have that moment broadcast all over the internet. In fact, most of us are never caught when we make that bad call.

Could you have handled that situation better?

I can certainly think of my own situations like this, where I’ve simply thrown away piles of paperwork rather than dealing with them and other boneheaded moves.

Those are the moments that I do not want myself to be judged on.

I would far rather be judged by my best moments, or at least be seen as someone who can handle a challenging situation. When people judge you in this way, it can only be a benefit for your career, not a job loss.

The challenge is that, for most of us, the camera isn’t running at work.

My suggestion? If you want to establish a career reputation that will win you raises and promotions, act as if the camera is always running.

Now, imagine that FedEx video if it showed the guy carefully climbing the fence, then gently lowering the box on the other side, then ringing the doorbell. It might have never went viral, but it just might have been sent to the people at FedEx and helped out his career a little bit. I know I’ve certainly reported good work on my behalf to companies in the past.

When you’re stressed out at work and thinking about cutting corners, imagine that there’s a camera running, watching what you do next. Do you want to make a video of you looking foolish? Or do you want to make a video you’d be happy to have sent to your boss? Can you overcome the stress of the moment and do things right?

Make the best choice and your career will thank you.

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  1. Sun says:

    > so he makes a bad call.

    In your opinion, this is a bad call. LCD monitors have very thick styrofoam to protect it. Most damage is from movement and monitor is securely in place. There is also impact tests performed on the boxes to know what their rating is. It is all part of the manufacturing process. The FedEx put it in the grassy area, so other than not meeting the buyer in person, the package will 99.9% fine. Maybe a little muddy if the grass was recently watered.

  2. Johanna says:

    Good grief. This is what passes for news these days?

  3. lurker carl says:

    Why didn’t he push the call button at the gate and announce he had a delivery? It’s common sense, not rocket science.


  4. Kathleen says:

    “it might have never went viral”

    EDITING, please!

  5. Becky says:

    Don’t you think a FedEx guy would also get in trouble for *climbing over a fence?!* Aren’t fences supposed to keep people out? If he got hurt climbing over a *6 foot tall fence with spikes on top,* not only would he get in trouble with FedEx, FedEx would get in trouble with OSHA. Justifiably.

    If he were one of my employees, I would be more likely to fire him for doing something that dangerous than I would for throwing the package. Stuff is replaceable. Backs, knees, hands? Not so much.

    Unless there were instructions on the package that the driver ignored, I am not sure what else he was supposed to do. Call the dude and ask him to drive home so he could hand the box off gently?

    Stuff gets thrown around all the time in shipping. That’s why it comes in so much packaging. Don’t think the guys loading the monitor on the truck didn’t toss it in there too!

  6. Steven says:

    Are you kidding me? You’re making so many assumptions in this article…

    This could easily be the worst article you’ve written.

  7. Misha says:

    Good grief. This is what passes for news these days?

    Yes, Johanna, when the site in question is dedicated to consumer news.

  8. Chris M says:

    If you read the description of the video, the poster clearly states that he was home and his front door was actually open. This wasn’t a bad call in a stressful moment– it was laziness at its worst.

    For the person who said the monitor is fine, that is also unfortunately not true. The poster of the video notes that the monitor needs to be returned, as it’s not working correctly.

  9. kc says:

    It feels as though you put as much care into this post as the FedEx guy put into his delivery.

  10. Jackowick says:

    As a person who has worked closely with a major shipping service for a number of years, one thing to consider is that proper packaging is able to be safely dropped from waist height.

    And if you can drop it safely from your waist, your head and shoulders aren’t much further.

    Companies are packaging things more and more cheaply nowadays. So before we villify a person tossing a package over the fence at Christmas, onto the grassy area beyond the fence, maybe sit back and look at some of our consumer decisions and decide if there is some chicken or the egg that this guy was doomed to fail.

    It’s easy to say ring the doorbell and wait but when we “demand” free shipping and fast delivery based on an arbitrary date of Christmas, we’re not demanding an extra couple seconds from this guy, we’re asking for tons of time over a day, week, month, and we’re skimping on pennies on dollars.

    There’s nothing wrong with a present on December 26th… or 27th…

    I know I’m sounding like a jerk or devil’s advocate, but I’ll take safety and quality over speed and pennies when I order online. Because I don’t want to create situations/decisions like this guy was put into.

    Now flame away.

  11. Jamie says:

    Um… I think that it sucks that a man paid to deliver your package would throw it over the fence instead of ringing the doorbell. Are Lurker Carl and Chris M really the only ones that agree that Fed-Ex guys shouldn’t use a computer monitor package as a basketball?

  12. beth says:

    I definitely have to disagree with your sentiment on this one…

    “Instead, I want you to take a second and imagine one of your worst days at work…”
    OK. I have worked in customer service of one kind or another my entire life. If the attitude you have on your worst day resembles his, you find another industry to work in, pronto. It doesn’t matter what was in the package or what the fence looked like, he should have rung the bell. If no one answered, he leaves his cute little post-it note stating that delivery will be re-tried or to call for pickup, just like every other package when no one is home.

    You don’t know anything about what’s in the box. You don’t know anything about the recipient’s front yard. You don’t make assumptions that it will be fine if you toss it on their grass, trusting that 1) it will land softly, 2) the sprinklers aren’t scheduled to come on, 3) the dog isn’t going to whizz on it since it’s sitting in the grass, 4) that you aren’t going to crush the flowers.

    If you’re going to interact with customers, you have to maintain professionalism *any* time you’re in their territory. If you can’t, then you need to get out of their space before you have a tantrum or you need to look for another job.

  13. Baley says:

    Yeah, that doesn’t count as “delivery” in my book. He didn’t even LOOK for another option for getting the computer monitor safely into the person’s possession!

  14. Johanna says:

    @Jackowick: What you say makes sense. If the driver is making deliveries during the day on a weekday, probably the majority of the people he’s delivering to are not going to be home. So while “ring the buzzer and wait” would have been the right thing to do in this case, the driver doesn’t know that ahead of time. (The recipient says he was standing there with the door open, but maybe the driver couldn’t easily see that from where he was.)

    If he rings the buzzer and waits on every delivery, most of the time he’ll be wasting his time, and he’ll have to find a way to leave the package there anyway. And if he wastes 2 minutes on each of 30 deliveries (I’m just making numbers up now), that’s an extra hour added onto his workday, which is probably long enough as it is.

    And like others, I’m quite perplexed at Trent’s idea that the driver should have climbed the fence.

  15. Gretchen says:

    Your answer really is to climb the fence?

  16. Gretchen says:

    I didn’t watch the video.

    If the homeowner was home with the door open, why didn’t he just leave the gate open?

  17. Sun says:

    > The poster of the video notes that the monitor
    > needs to be returned, as it’s not working correctly.

    The term used was “broken”. I question the buyer’s accuracy and attribute the comment more as an embellishment to prove a point rather than actual. You also need to specifically show that the one specific action by the FedEx employee is what caused the damaged versus the monitor already being defective. I’ve shipped uncountable number of packages and received thousands of packages in all sorts of box condition. It takes a lot more than throwing it over a fence and land on grass to damage a monitor.

  18. em says:

    The FedEx guy didn’t do his job. If it weren’t caught on tape the owner would have called FedEx told them that the package was thrown over his fence and the contents were broken. Either way he would have gotten caught so Trent comparing you having a bad day and cutting corners to what this guy did doesn’t make sense.

    These posts are getting more ridiculous and pointless. and now the ads on the site are becoming an eye sore (I can see the same ad 3 times on one page!) I think I’ll be giving this site up as a new years resolution.

  19. Steve says:

    I have to disagree with those that said this was the worst post ever. This post was terrible, but there have definitely been worse ones.

  20. kc says:

    Yeah, Cut Media has really begun tarting up the site with ads.

  21. Joanna says:

    There is a call box. The resident was even at home, with the door open. What the delivery guy did was inexcusable and you can bet this wasn’t the first time — he didn’t even hesitate. I don’t want someone like that handling my packages. Possibly causing me hours of frustration with the manufacturer sending the item back and having it shipped again…by the same driver.

    There are plenty of people out of work who would kill for this guys job.

  22. krantcents says:

    If you love what you do, would you do this? I don’t think so!

  23. Availle says:

    “Now, imagine that FedEx video if it showed the guy carefully climbing the fence, then gently lowering the box on the other side, then ringing the doorbell.”

    I don’t get this paragraph, but that’s probably because I don’t work in delivery. Shouldn’t “ringing the doorbell” be the FIRST thing you do?

  24. sue says:

    wow, tough crowd. My overal impression of this article is “cut the guy some slack here” no one needs to be publicly flogged for a momentary lapse in judgement. EVERYONE makes mistakes….

  25. deRuiter says:

    “It might have never went viral,…” Luckily writers with a passion for their profession are not fired for poor grammar by their new bosses! The driver should have rung the call bell. The owner would have come through the door, opened the gate and taken the package. If no one answered the bell / door, the UPS custom is to LEAVE A PREPRINTED NOTE WITH DATE AND TIME NEXT DELIVERY ATTEMPT OR FOR PICKUP AT THE UPS DEPOT CLEARLY STATED WHICH HAS THE PACKAGE CALL NUMBER. UPS does have company policy for handling this situation. The driver was wrong. He is paid a generous salary to deliver packages safely (his safety and the parcel’s safety both.) The suggestion that an employee of anyone but a street gang or the Mafia ought to scale an iron fence in the line of business is the height of foolishness, naive (deficient in worldly wisdom or informed judgment) and just plain dumb. This driver didn”t make his first mistake here, his lack of having to think over the idea of tossing the package over the fence shows his cavalier attitude towards his job and the items in his care. He ought to be fired immediately. The job should be given to some conscientious, hardworking, ambitious member of the unemployed. This is a (possibly well deserved since they didn’t fire the driver immediately) black eye for UPS. Next time your parcel contents arrive damaged, you’ll know why! And the UPS representative will look you straight in the eye and tell you they won’t pay your insurance claim because the sender didn’t pack the thing carefully enough. NOW YOU’VE GOT SOME AMMO WHEN FILING YOUR CLAIM!

  26. kc says:

    Uh, this is FedEx, not UPS, and this isolated incident hardly qualifies as “ammo” for anyone other than the customer in this specific case.

  27. Kate says:

    methinks someone was so quick to point out a grammatical error on Trent’s part, that he didn’t read the article very carefully. Oh, wait…he didn’t even read the title. Oh, well…he’s well-dressed so that makes everyone love him, no matter how negative he is.

  28. jim says:

    I wonder if slightly off camera to the left is a big sign that reads “please leave packages here” with an arrow pointing to a big pile of fluffy down pillows which are also not visible off camera? Probably not.

    I would like to hear the drivers side of the story. He probably has no good excuse, but you never know. Maybe the guy living at that house bullied the driver in high school or slept with the drivers wife? Probably not. Its probably cause he is sloppy, sucks at his job, is paid by the day and thought nobody would see.

  29. Cheryl says:

    you can download a version of kindle for your laptop or home computer for free. you can also get a lot of books as free downloads, usually at amazon.com so there is really no need to buy a kindle unless you just like the size and portability. my netbook is pretty small and portable, so I use that for my reading.

  30. tentaculistic says:

    I really appreciated this post (I seem to be deeply in the minority!) – it’s a reminder that all of us in the Internet Greek choir of condemnation could ourselves be condemned if caught in an all-too-human moment of weakness. I often wonder about what the Internet has done to our society, I see a lot of problems, and this rush to condemnation of an isolated one-sided version of an incident seems like a real negative one. It crystallizes all of our self-righteousness.

    Note that I count myself firmly among that group, and firmly in with that failing! So many human flaws I need to work on!

  31. Linda says:

    A lot of criticism considering we’ve just come off a happy holiday season. I think it’s a good post. A lot to be said for empathy.

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