"Every morning, when you put on that brown uniform, you're like a football player or a basketball player: It's time to go into battle," says Spears, 53. He has been a UPS driver for 31 years, the last 28 on the same route in Charlotte's upscale Dilworth neighborhood, full of small businesses, medical officers and small, neat single-family residences.
UPS was once viewed as a leading indicator, in the days when consumers shopped at malls and businesses ordered supplies months in advance. But in today's just-in-time, click-to-order world, the biggest package shipper has become a proxy for the economy in real time, with 6% of the U.S. GDP and 2% of the world's GDP in its system at any given moment.
|Veteran UPS driver Emory Spears (in his truck) chatted with TSC staff writer Ted Reed (foreground, in uniform, too) about how business in the Charlotte, N.C. region has fared during the economic downturn.|