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Ticketing the State

These are interesting times to be a delivery person for UPS. There is the normal amount of packages and documents to be delivered in accordance with the company’s reputation for excellent customer service. This time of year, however, the workload ramps up a bit. That, of course, is due to the volume of season tickets being delivered.

There is good news and bad news for the delivery guys during this ticket-delivering time. An example would be the good news that comes from receiving overtime pay for working the extra hours needed to deliver the large volume of season tickets. The bad news would be the amount of extra time spent working to deliver the large volume of season tickets. Being professionals, they take the good with the bad.

There is also a large amount of good and bad involved in whether the tickets are being delivered to Hokies or Hoos. This is where it gets tricky.

To a person, delivery people profess to a preference for delivering Tech tickets. The reception they get from the recipients tends to be much more positive from those receiving scarce and highly-valued Virginia Tech season football tickets.

These reactions range from the simple, such as a smile and “glad to see you” on up the chart to bear hugs and the occasional kiss on the lips from appreciative Tech fans. Hokies upon spying the brown delivery truck racing out to lay roses or roll out red carpets up their driveways for the passage of the delivery person is considered standard behavior. It gets better.

While UPS frowns on tipping its delivery people, there have been Tech fans so happy to receive another year’s tickets that they feel compelled to augment the wages of the person bringing them. Cash proffers of up to six figures are not uncommon and neither are gifts of automobiles, real estate and/or securities. There are UPS delivery people who have found that following a day’s work delivering Tech tickets they are able to retire and move to Tahiti, living the rest of their lives in leisure off the proceeds.

Some Tech fans turn the occasion of the ticket delivery into great celebrations reminiscent of those given knights of the Middle Ages when returning from battles of conquest. Great feasts are given in honor of the deliverer. Huge oaken tables are laden with beef, pork, venison, rabbit, pheasant, all manner of delicacies from the sea and great desserts of cakes, pies and puddings.

Delivery people eat their fill, washing it down with exotic beers and shots of Wild Turkey. Jugglers and fakirs provide entertainment. Afterwards, gifts such as Hokie Birds made from gold and sterling are presented and the delivery person is given his pick of the ticket-holder’s daughters, or sons, depending on the deliverer’s sex and orientation. Knights Templar upon delivering the Holy Grail to the Chartres Cathedral likely received a less enthusiastic welcome.

Naturally, the opportunity to deliver Tech season tickets is a job perk prized greatly at UPS. Unfortunately, while Lane Stadium has been expanded a number of times over the years, there simply still are not enough season tickets to allow all employees to share in the wealth. Local managers are given much latitude in determining who gets to deliver them.

In most cases, the reward of delivering Tech tickets is given to those employees who score the highest on annual reviews. These people have demonstrated a superior commitment to the company’s values of prompt delivery and excellent customer service. While there remain some managers who persist in having tournaments in which employees fight to the death in order to deliver the Tech tickets, the greater majority of supervisors have adopted a merit system. It seems fairer.

While the delivery of Virginia Tech football tickets presents an annual opportunity for celebration, there is a darker side to the merriment: Hoo tickets must also be delivered. The prospects here are not so bright.

There have now become quite a few Hoos not quite so enamored with algroh’s recent efforts. It would seem the five wins, or six with a bonus trip to Boise no longer satisfy the faithful. algroh’s rallying cry of ‘It could have been worse’ does not seem to be achieving the desired results. Fewer and fewer are sticking their faces into the fan and continuing to buy tickets.

Among those who did, there has been reported by UPS an increasing reluctance on the part of Hoos to accept them. Delivery people have reported that some Hoos simply refuse to answer the door, or will shout out behind locked and bolted ones, “Get the hell out of here. I don’t want those damn things.” Following company instructions to leave them on doorsteps, some delivery persons have suffered back and neck injuries after being hit by flying ticket envelopes that contain sharp edges.

Some Hoos are resorting to even more drastic measures to not receive their tickets. Some UPS trucks and employees have been lost as a result of Hoos mining their driveways and front yards. Other Hoos have taken a more active defensive posture to defend their property from the delivery of Hoo season tickets.

A few Hoos erected fortifications in front of their houses that greatly resembled the Maginot Line. Delivery drivers were able to easily pierce them either through a flanking maneuver through a neighbor’s yard or, Hoo engineering being what it is, by simply ramming their brown truck through the fortification.

This forced Hoos not wishing to receive delivery of their tickets to fall back to a secondary line of defense, usually involving their houses. From positions in their living and other forward rooms, Hoos have been able to direct enfilade fire into advancing delivery persons. This makes it tougher.

There was much discussion among UPS upper management as to how best to assault these situations and deliver the tickets under conditions similar to those faced by United States military personnel in Fallujah. Experience eventually taught that Hoo sharpshooters could hit their targets no better than Sewell hit receivers.

Delivery teams were organized around the ‘buddy teams’ used by the Marine Corps. One delivery person could provide covering fire while the other advanced, and then cover the other. Generally, by the time they reached the shrubbery, a white flag would fly from the front of the house and delivery could be accomplished. Great pride is taken by delivery services in their ability to deliver under any circumstances.

Needless to say, delivering Hoo season football tickets is considered much tougher duty than delivering Tech ones. Various methods were employed in attempts to convince drivers to undertake the dangerous mission. Days off, extended vacations and even combat pay proved ineffective. Upper management was finally forced to institute a draft.

In any event, most tickets have been delivered, with casualties described as ‘moderate’ among those delivering Hoo ones. Tickets are in hand.

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