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It's My Job: After 30 years, FedEx courier still delivering

Bill Trautner has been making deliveries for FedEx for the past 30 years. Photo by David Samson / The Forum

FARGO – Bill Trautner has seen a lot over his 30 years on the road as a FedEx courier.

Just last winter, he witnessed a car flip over and go in the ditch. Having had first responder training, Trautner pulled over, got the woman out of the car and provided first aid. It was about 20 below zero at the time, so he put her in his truck while they waited for paramedics to arrive.

That was not a typical day for the FedEx courier, but as someone who spends his days driving in an area where the weather is often uncooperative, Trautner said you need to expect the unexpected.

How has the job changed over 30 years?

Every time a package gets handled now, it gets scanned. When it’s picked up, when it goes through Memphis (FedEx headquarters), when it gets on and off a plane, when it gets to the station, and when it goes down the belt and into our van, it gets scanned to show it’s en route. Then when it’s delivered, it’s scanned again. You can go to and find out just about anything you want to know about your package.

I also used to be running all day long, literally running through malls and stuff and sweat would be pouring off me. We’ve figured out that’s not really the way to do it. I’m not running anymore, but I’m probably running more efficiently than I ever have because of best practices that we do.

Do you use MapQuest or something similar to find your destinations?

You’re not allowed to use electronic devices while driving. If you’re stopped, some of the guys have smartphones they use. I don’t. I still go by maps. It helps to have a geographic spatial ability where you can picture it from above.

What are some of the challenges of the job?

You need to be attentive. Your mind has to be focused all day to make sure you know where your next five stops are, but you also need to focus on where you’re at as far as other drivers. What are they doing? You have to stay focused. That’s when you get into trouble, when you let your mind wander

What happens when there is a blizzard?

We go out and drive through a lot of stuff, but if the roads aren’t plowed well enough to get through or it’s just a blizzard, then it’s up to our discretion. And sometimes the roads are just closed. Like if (Highway) 10 or (Interstate) 94 closes, you can’t go anywhere. … As far as the company guarantee goes, it’s considered an act of God. There is nothing we can do about it.

How do you deal with road construction?

You can’t let it bother you. It’s just part of the job or part of the day. OK, so I got slowed up for five minutes. Big deal. Is it going to affect me for the rest of my life? No. It’s just five minutes out of my day. You can’t let it make you mad because there is nothing you can do about it.

What do you like about the job?

It’s fun getting people their packages when they’re really happy to see you. They may be getting birthday presents, Christmas presents or even medicine. We deliver a lot of pharmacy stuff or actual medicine that has to be delivered within one day because it has to stay cool. People may have a port or may have to give themselves some sort of shots. When they are really happy to see you because you have their medicine, I like that.