“No one is going to drive me away from this job.”
That is how Jan Shelton, Paducah’s first woman UPS driver to retire in 2018, expresses the love for her job that occupied the last twenty-six years of her life.
Jan was raised in Western Kentucky where she came to adore her roots. After graduating high school from Mayfield High School, she continued her education at Southern Illinois University playing softball and baseball.
When her time at SIU came to an end, in 1985 she found herself at Boca West resort in Boca Raton, Florida, teaching swim lessons and managing the resort pool.
An enviable career
While in Florida, Jan took note of a woman working for UPS. “I noticed a woman UPS driver at the resort,” says Jan. This is where she quickly realized that she envied this stranger’s career. “I loved the idea of being outside, with no boss following me around every day, and it sparked an interest.”
Jan found herself missing her brother, her family, and her love for Western Kentucky, leading her to move back home to her old stomping grounds. Soon after, a family member mentioned to her that United Parcel Service was hiring. She approached UPS about a position and was hired on the spot.
“I gave up a lot for my job.”
Taking a job with UPS required Jan to lay down her mitt down from a traveling softball league to move forward with what would be the most exhausting, and yet rewarding job of her life!
UPS typically hired drivers from within with most drivers generally beginning their careers as a loaders and unloaders at the warehouse. Jan was different: she was immediately hired as a driver.
“I believe that despite being a woman, I was hired because of my physical condition from sports. There was never any discrimination against me for being a woman driver. There was no special treatment for me because I was a woman, either.”
Being A Driver Isn’t Easy
Working as a female driver was never just a walk in the park.
“I don’t miss the physical exhaustion,” she says, after explaining that she has endured two back surgeries and a shoulder surgery. “The load was especially difficult during the holiday season. A normal day would consist of 100 stops a day and 120 miles on the road.”
On a lighter note, the job did have its perks!
“The people are the most enjoyable. I loved being able to build relationships with the people on my routes. I looked forward to buying gifts for the kids’ birthdays and stop for an occasional game of basketball.” As she gained seniority, she also earned the privilege of choosing her delivery route. “I liked being able to choose the country routes with less stops,” she tells us, and also mentions that she mostly delivered in the counties of Boaz and Hickory.
“This job was my purpose in life. I had a God-given ability to have this career and I made the best of it.”
Whoever said “Home is where the heart is,” must have been referring to this local soul. Thank you, Jan, for your twenty-six years of service to our community!