Giving and Paying Back

I am sad today.

Everything in my little world is pretty much as it should be — my son was the broadcaster for a no-hitter by the Mobile Baybears last night, my daughter is going off to college tomorrow, I am about to go for a run with my wife, and my other son, Reid, continues to live a life of inspiration.

I am sad today because a plane with two UPS employees has crashed, and two wonderful people lost their lives.

The loss of any life is tragic, so why does this accident move me — and how do I know that these pilots were ‘wonderful people’?

UPS has been in my family’s life for many years. Whenever one of the trucks came to our house, Reid would get all excited. Never did any driver seem annoyed or turn away from this child with special needs. No, they always engaged him and often let him look in the back of the truck to see the packages. (Yes, that was a thrill for him.) Some brought him UPS paraphernalia, much of which he still has today, as a 23-year old young man. He dressed up as the “UPS man” for Halloween for about 15 years.

UPS costume with Damon

When you experience the warm hearts of these drivers over two decades you cannot help but draw the conclusion that the company itself has a heart. I have come to see it in the people at the UPS package stores, and even in the few executives I have met. We should never forget that every act of kindness we extend ripples throughout the human pond. I am reminded of what Matthew wrote in the New Testament.  Jesus said:

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

I am sad today because a company with a great heart — a company that touches thousands of lives in a positive way daily — has lost two members of its family. They feel like a part of my family, and I will pray for them and their loved ones. We should all be thankful for those who care about “the least” among us. I have witnessed firsthand the divinity of unconditional love.

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2 thoughts on “Giving and Paying Back

  1. Jim, this is absolutely beautiful. Your attention to other human beings, their needs and their kindness continues to touch me. I remembered reading about your connection to UPS, and loved it when I first became aware of it. This is no exception.

  2. Jim, this is particularly touching for me as I have been thinking of UPS recently in significant ways. First, the thought of the corporate culture there and how family oriented and caring they are to their own because a friend of mine is working for Home Depot and he reports a quite different culture. And then especially, because my cousin, Bill Pendleton, is a UPS driver and has been for some 30 years. He is an accountanting major graduate from Old Dominion University and has never had another job. He is a part time farmer growing pumpkins in the fall and mostly giving them away in a trailer bed on the side of the road. He loves his job, his wife and his three children. He is the kind of person you expect to work for UPS. We are having a family reunion this weekend and Bill and his family will come for the first ever time for an Old Dominion University football face off against East Carolina University. It will be memorable no matter what the score in large part because my wonderful cousin will be there.

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