For FedEx courier Ray Beltrane, Christmastime means long, 12- to 14-hour shifts and the start of cold, often icy or snowy weather. But he doesn't seem to mind.
It's also the time of year when he spreads holiday cheer by dropping much anticipated gifts on residents' doorsteps.
“I love it,” Beltrane said Monday while driving his route in the Edgemere Park neighborhood. “Everybody's happy to see you.”
The bulk of his package deliveries these days are from online retailers. A peek at some parcels ready for transport inside the Oklahoma City distribution center at 4220 N Santa Fe showed many were from Radioshack.com, Amazon.com and Wal
FedEx was expected to handle more than 17 million packages Monday, its busiest day this year. That's 9 percent more than last year and almost double what FedEx ships on a normal day.
About 55 drivers handle the deliveries for the N Santa Fe Avenue facility, said Nathan Crawford, operations manager. They start loading their trucks about 6 a.m., begin their routes around 8 a.m. and wrap up their day by 4:30 or 5 p.m.
Beltrane, a FedEx driver for 19 years, was wearing shorts Monday, despite the chilly, forty-something temps. He makes a stop an average of every three minutes and goes through the same routine: shut off the truck, grab a package, hustle to the recipient's door. Then back in the truck, click the seat belt and on to the next.
A cooler of chilled coffee drinks keeps him fueled. The inside of the truck is surprisingly low tech, with no GPS or laptop providing directions.
Work days in December are like running a whole marathon compared to a half marathon the rest of the year, he says. And just because it's Christmas Day, don't be shocked to see a FedEx truck. They often will pull a short, two-hour shift on the holiday to ensure everything gets done, Beltrane said.
“Every single package we get for Christmas is going to get delivered,” he said.
The peak delivery day is a little later for UPS, which expects to handle 26 million packages on Thursday, Dec. 22, its busiest day, said spokeswoman Sara Everett. Most arrive in one to three days.
“If you're a procrastinator, you can ship as late as Friday the 23rd,” she said, though the Saturday delivery will incur an additional $15 charge.
Need a package delivered by Christmas? Here are shipping deadlines for FedEx, UPS and the Postal Service.
• FedEx: Monday for regular home delivery; two-day, overnight and same-day delivery available, even on Christmas Day.
• UPS: Tuesday, Dec. 20 for 3-Day Select, Thursday, Dec. 22 for 2nd Day Air or Friday, Dec. 23 for Next Day Air; there is a $15 surcharge for Saturday delivery.
• United States Postal Service: Thursday for Parcel Post, Monday for international shipping, Tuesday for First-Class Mail, Wednesday for Priority Mail and Thursday for Express Mail.