Man recalls 30 years dressed in brown
Come Saturday, Keith LaPaille looks forward to expanding his wardrobe – to a color other than brown.
After 30 years of service, LaPaille, 52, will hang up his United Parcel Service uniform and the electronic gadgetry for the retirement life this weekend. His last day is Friday – an early present to himself for his August birthday.
“It’s nice to look in the closet and see civilian clothes,” he quipped.
This could be a step up from what he’s seen on the job delivering packages at Lake Tahoe over the last three decades.
At the thousands of doors he’s knocked on along his route, he’ll often hear the words “Come in.” He’s also heard his share of barking dogs, blaring television sets and ringing phones and even a few arguments.
Sometimes women have answered the door bells in night gowns, though the single father of two says he’s has never been propositioned beyond the door.
There was one big benefit to the job LaPaille will miss.
“It’s probably the perfect single-man’s job because you get to meet a lot of people,” he said.
LaPaille has even walked in on couples’ arguments on his 125-mile-a-day route. It spans from the South Shore to Squaw Valley, Tahoe City, Carnelian Bay and Incline Village.
Once a man came to the door with a shotgun.
“Don’t shoot the messenger,” LaPaille told the man.
UPS drivers are trained to not study the packages they deliver.
“I lost my curiosity years ago,” he said.
But LaPaille has also discovered he needs to be discreet with parcels sent close to Christmas Day.
“Stores don’t wrap like they used to,” he said.
He’s learned to carry black trash bags in his trusty truck in case there’s a hint of the sealed goods and children come to the door.
When LaPaille started with UPS, his truck showed it had 4,000 miles recorded. It now has 293,000.
With all the miles logged on the road, LaPaille holds the distinction of the UPS “Circle of Honor” award. In 25 years, he’s been involved in no traffic accidents. He hasn’t been so lucky with speeding tickets. But he’s also learned a solution to that challenge.
“Never go 10 miles (per hour) over the speed limit,” he said.
LaPaille is also more than happy to hang up his tire chains. There have been days where he’s seen snowfall accumulate at least 5 feet.
Despite the challenges, the South Shore resident hasn’t lost his desire to drive. He bought a 32-foot motor home to travel in.
“I’m not sick of driving. I’m just sick of the same route,” he said.
LaPaille also plans to go offroading after retirement. He wants to hit the trails on motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles with his sons, ages 26 and 30.
Forget hiking though. LaPaille got his fill of walking, wearing a pedometer that logged 10 miles a day on his route.
“After work, I’d just want to find a tree and some shade,” he said.
LaPaille’s supervisor, Mike Fahnestock, said he’ll miss him.
“Keith has been a loyal employee. He has good people skills. In this job, a smile goes a long way,” he said.
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