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The final delivery: Longtime UPS clerk is retiring

Susan Wood
Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Shirley March is retiring after 27 years of service at UPS.
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United Parcel Service clerk Shirley March has seen some things at the counter that have made her 27 years with the courier company a lively career.

“People have come in with ashes (to ship). And that’s a no-no. I’ve had (ashes of) a husband, a son,” said March, who’s retiring Aug. 31 from the South Lake Tahoe office on D Street. “If you can’t replace it, we won’t ship it.”

There have been other unusual items people ship – from gold teeth and gobs of money to drugs and a shoulder end of a rifle. The latter caused a bit of a commotion over a year ago when customers coming out of the UPS office noticed a man with the rifle stock crossing the parking lot. He was preparing to ship the part.

“I didn’t think anything of it. I knew the guy,” she said.

But calls from nearby businesses asked if “everything was OK.” The street was blocked off by police and the SWAT team was called out.

“They made him go out with his hands up. His son was in the car. He was pretty scared,” she said.

Besides shipping out, March has seen packages come to her in disarray as dogs have chewed them and sprinklers have drenched them. Despite dealing with life’s irritations, March said she’ll miss her customers. Their numbers have grown over the years as an increase in Internet shopping and the popularity of eBay have contributed to a shipping explosion.

When March began work with the company, six drivers were on staff. Now, there are over four times that number. She was one of them before she took over the counter.

UPS is only the third company she’s worked for since graduating from high school.

March, 53, will enjoy retirement with one of the few companies these days offering a pension.

Come September, she won’t have to get up before 6 a.m., but she’ll probably do so anyway, she said. She also won’t have to wear brown, the company color.

“This is more taupe. Brown’s been very good to me,” she said, looking down at her shorts.

After spending 49 years in Tahoe, she intends to travel in a 32-foot camper with a friend, her 13-year-old Labrador retriever, Braggs, and no particular destination in mind. She’d also like to play more golf.

“I want to get better,” she said.

Her coworker Lindsay Bird, a driver, will contribute to the goal by planning a girls’ getaway golf weekend.

“We’re going to miss Shirley. It’s going to be a void. Whenever we needed anything, Shirley would find out how to get it and fix it,” she said.

It appears management feels the same way. When asked how one replaces someone like March, Manager Mike Fahnestock responded with: “You don’t.”

Effective Sept. 5, the UPS counter hours will be shortened from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.

As for volunteer work, March will also work on putting together a dialysis center in town – an idea motivated from her late mother’s kidney condition.


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