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Friends & Neighbors: UPS driver heads off-road

When Paul Hubbard's son, Tony, returns to the United States in March, after his second tour of duty with the U.S. Marine Corps in Iraq, Hubbard intends to be in San Diego, Calif., to greet him.

In fact, the Detroit Lakes man is hoping to go one step further: "I'm hoping to do a Tiger cruise," he says. "My son (a corporal who serves as the gunner on a CH-53 helicopter) is aboard the U.S.S. Boxer right now. If the logistics work out, I will jump on the boat in Honolulu and ride back with them to San Diego."

A few months after his son comes back to Miramar -- the San Diego base that was the former home of the legendary "Top Gun" fighter pilot

school -- Hubbard hopes to be in Vail, Colo., visiting with his daughter Andrea and her husband.

"I'm going to be a grandfather in July," he explains, adding that he wants to be there to see his first grandchild, though he does have step-grandchildren that he shares with wife Cheryl. (He also has four stepchildren: Jenny, Mike, Tracy and Terri.)

Of course, none of this traveling would be possible if Hubbard was still working at United Parcel Service (UPS), where he was employed for 32 years, starting in May 1974.

"I worked on the dock until 1979, when I became a driver," he says. Though he had a few different routes over the years -- "as you gain seniority, better routes become available, so you take the better route," he explains -- the routine was basically the same.

"I averaged about 60 stops

a day, and would see about

30 different people," he says. "My last route was north-

west of Detroit Lakes, and included Audubon, Hitterdal, Ulen, Twin Valley, Gary and Flom... it was about 800 square miles."

But on Thursday, Dec. 28, Hubbard drove his last route for UPS. His retirement became official on Dec. 31.

"I'll miss the people -- there are some customers you just look forward to seeing every day," he says. "Whenever I changed routes, I always felt bad about leaving some people behind."

Hubbard hopes to keep in touch with some of those former customers.

"When you deal with the same people on a daily basis, you learn a lot about their lives," he says. "You see and hear things (about their lives) every day, and you can't help but be affected. They become part of your extended family."

A native of North Dakota, Hubbard was born in Bismarck and grew up in Fargo. He started working for UPS soon after high school, because "I had a friend working there who was making more money... I understood it was a chance for a solid job, with good benefits."

Though he will miss many of his former customers, Hubbard says, he really won't miss driving in bad weather.

When he came into the UPS offices in Detroit Lakes on Friday, Dec. 29, to turn in his keys and the brown suit that had been his work uniform for more than three decades, DL had just had its first significant storm in weeks. The roads were getting slippery from a combination of snow and ice.

"I picked a good day to retire," he joked. Now that he doesn't have to drive his UPS route every day, Hubbard adds, he'll be taking over the housekeeping duties from his wife, Cheryl, who still works full time at the DL Animal Hospital.

"That should make her life easier, and it's only fair," he says.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454