Silt package deliverer’s success is no accident
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
SILT, Colorado ” Suzanne Dameron is alert and keenly aware of her surroundings as she pulls up to the stop sign. She looks both ways and accelerates through the intersection.
Off to her next stop.
“Hey, Jasmine,” Suzanne says as she’s greeted by a rather plump basset hound at the gate of a Silt home. Jasmine waddles behind Suzanne. The rotund little canine with stumpy legs slowly manages to pull herself up the two steps to the front door, her tail clicking away faster than the speed limit as Suzanne drops off a package.
“She’s 18 years old,” Suzanne says climbing back into the truck. Everything is precision-like repetition for Suzanne. She snaps her seat belt in, checks her mirrors and surroundings, shoves the clutch to the floor, pops the transmission into gear and motors back onto the street.
“I don’t think I would know how to drive an automatic (transmission),” she says with a smile.
She’s been driving and delivering in the Silt-Rifle area for the past 15 years. She knows every driveway, nook, cranny, dog and rooster.
“Hey, Roger,” Suzanne says waving to a man down the street at her next stop. He returns a wave with a smile. She knows almost everyone, and they know her.
For a quarter of a century she’s seen a lot as a driver for United Parcel Service out of the Glenwood Springs facility. She even makes brown look good.
But there’s one thing that she’s skillfully unfamiliar with ” accidents.
When it comes to safe driving, Suzanne is like the Energizer Bunny coated with Teflon.
For 25 years, Suzanne has put on somewhere between 30,000 and 40,000 miles a year delivering packages in and around Garfield and Pitkin counties.
Zipping in and out of driveways, cul-de-sacs and loading docks, up and down Highway 82 and Interstate 70, and looking both ways and all around before she starts hundreds of times a day, Suzanne drives home the point that safety comes first.
Suzanne makes one thing very clear ” she loves her job and she takes pride in her driving record. A lot of pride.
“I’m pretty proud. I work hard at my job, and I love my job.”
She was recently inducted into UPS’s prestigious Circle of Honor. Twenty-five years without an accident.
That means not a broken mirror, not a single little scratch on the truck, not even getting stuck in the throws of the harshest of winters.
Think about it: not one incident in 25 years. And we all know anything can happen. Even when we take every precaution and do everything right, sometimes it’s the other guy who plows into us.
That even happened to Suzanne. She’s been with UPS for 28 years but in her third year on the job, someone hit her truck. An accident through no fault of her own.
Since then it’s been 25 years of nada in the accident department. So much for all those women driver jokes.
Suzanne is one of 70 female drivers who have made the Circle of Honor in the United States. The company has approximately 90,000 men and women drivers in the U.S. The Glenwood center has two in the rarefied air of the Circle of Honor; the other is Kevin McDevitt with 26 safe-driving years.
Suzanne loves dogs and has four at home, but not all dogs are like Jasmine. Some dogs don’t like the delivery person. Suzanne is painfully aware of that fact.
She grabs a dog biscuit from the bag on the dashboard at her next stop.
“Hello, UPS,” she announces. This time, the dog was inside and no problem, so the biscuit went back into the bag.
“I’ve been viciously attacked so many times,” Suzanne says. “Dog biscuits do wonders.”
She says that without a smile. Dog attacks are serious business for delivery people.
Years back, a territorial, hostile Sheltie in West Glenwood jumped up and ripped open Suzanne’s neck.
It’s part of the job.
So is an occasional high-noon standoff with a rowdy rooster.
Suzanne smiles. “Yes, I have been attacked by a rooster. But I can handle it.”
The job does take a toll.
“This job is definitely demanding ” both physically and mentally ” so you always have to be aware and ready for anything.”
Safe driving comes down to common sense and just basic things for Suzanne. Something she wishes all drivers would do.
“People just need to know how to handle the conditions. You always have to look out for the other guy. You need to know your surroundings all the time. You need to always keep your eyes moving, always look around,” she says.
Whether it’s on the job or away from it, Suzanne’s driving record is as clean as a shaken Etch-a-Sketch. Not a single citation in her entire driving life.
Another notch on the pride belt.
At 55, Suzanne is taking a peek at retirement. She’s looking at driving away into the sunset when she reaches 30 years on the job. Then it will be time to hit the lake.
“I plan to water ski my life away,” she says.
Things have changed a lot over 28 years. Computers are now essential to the operation, the area continues to swell, and that means more traffic and more deliveries, more schools and children to keep an eye out for.
“Everyone is in a hurry nowadays. Back then you didn’t have to worry about cells phones ” now people are always driving and talking on their cell phones.”
You might say those things drive her a little crazy.
As for UPS drivers, there’s no talking on the cell phone if the wheels are moving.
She started on Halloween 1980, and when it comes to driving, it’s been pretty much scary-free ever since.
Suzanne’s day varies from 8 to more than 11 hours a day depending on the volume. It’s demanding and difficult at times. She’s battled three-feet of snow and trucks packed to capacity. She says she can put on chains in 17 minutes but hates it when she has to. Through all the years and with all the demands of the job, Suzanne still makes it perfectly clear that she’s one lucky brown-clad employee.
“I do love my job, and not everyone can say that,” she says with a smile. Then she grabs a package from the back of the truck. Checks the address and heads toward the door.
Another stop, another package, maybe another dog biscuit, and it’s back on the road.
Another safe day with Suzanne Dameron behind the wheel of her brown UPS truck.
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