HAWAII AT WORK
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Keali'i Manner is a swing driver/courier for Federal Express, which has about 130 couriers serving the Honolulu area. On Tuesday, Manner loaded his truck at the FedEx distribution center near Honolulu Airport with packages to be delivered.
Bringing you the world on time
Keali'ihau'oli Manner is the go-to guy when FedEx on Oahu needs a position covered
Keali'ihaU'oli Kalani Manner was working as a grocery store cashier when he decided he needed a change. So he applied at FedEx ("A lot of FedEx guys were coming through my line at the store," he said), and he was hired as a part-time courier.
Keali'ihau'oli Kalani Manner
Title: Swing driver/courier
Job: Fill in for regular-shift couriers who are sick or on vacation
Later, the Kamehameha Schools graduate took on the added role of swing driver, allowing him to work full time for the international package-delivery service. His strong work ethic probably derives partly from the fact that he is the caring father of three children with Leilani Rasa, who has three children from an earlier relationship as well. They are Kamalani, 5; Kekoa, 9; Kaimi, 14; Anjelita, 16; Kawika, 18; and Christina, 19, who in turn has a daughter, Chrysta-lynn, 3. Manner, 33, lives with his family in Pearl City, which is not far from FedEx's headquarters near Honolulu Airport.
Question: When you say you're a swing driver/courier, what does that mean?
Answer: I'm a relief driver for people who take vacations or who call in sick, or if maybe they need something special done.
Q: Like what?
A: Well, normally I drive the straight trucks, but if they need a heavy delivery taken care of, I'll take care of that, too.
Q: What's a straight truck?
A: It's what's called a step van. Those FedEx trucks you see are called step vans. It's smaller than a semi. It's a big truck, but it's like an Island Movers-type truck -- kind of like that size, give or take.
Q: What do you do if your truck breaks down?
A: You just let them know and they'll send a tow truck out, and depending on how much work you have left, they'll let the other drivers know and they'll come over and grab the freight and divide it up between whoever shows up.
Q: Has that ever happened to you?
A: No. I have taken trucks to other people and waited while they finished their routes. They load the packages into the new truck and then finish their route.
Q: How long have you been working for FedEx?
A: Nine years.
Q: Were you always a swing driver/courier?
A: I was always a courier, but originally only part time. I became swing driver (in 1998) so I could become full time.
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Before FedEx couriers deliver their packages, they must inspect their trucks for possible problems. Above, Keali'i Manner, right, on Tuesday looked over the engine of his truck for the day assisted by his operations manager, Mark Perry, center, and courier Dylan Crockett. Manner said if an inspection takes less than 45 minutes, then something probably was missed.
What's the difference between a swing driver and a courier?
A: A regular driver has a set area, and that's all he does, every day. Like one guy will do three buildings on Bishop Street, and he'll do those every day. But the swing driver will take over for people, like if they call in sick one day, so there's no set schedule or area. I work all over the island.
Q: So your schedule's always different?
A: Yeah. It keeps it kind of exciting.
Q: What kinds of packages do you deliver? Are they mostly for business-related customers?
A: Actually, it's about 50-50. The business customer, they have a lot more, but we have a lot of residentials, too. Lot of military, too. We do a lot of the bases. Quite a bit.
We also do a lot of internal organ deliveries, like for major surgeries. Sometimes, if they have an operation early in the morning, and the package is coming in (from the mainland) the same day, typically we don't leave our stations until 10:30, so if the operation is earlier in the morning, we're not going to make it. So we go hunting for the package that they need -- it's usually in a cooler or something -- and then somebody delivers it so they can get the operation taken care of.
Q: So you're just speeding up the delivery then?
A: Yeah, just for that one package, so they can take care of the surgery, because it's really important.
Q: How do the packages range in size and weight?
A: Anything from an envelope the size of a piece of paper to as far as you can stretch your arms, to a maximum of 150 pounds -- 150 pounds is the maximum that FedEx will take. FedEx HeavyWeight will take anything over that.
Q: Do you have to be in pretty good physical shape to do your job?
A: Yeah, because it's very physical -- very physical.
Every morning we have what we call a stretch-and-flex -- a little warm-up -- to make sure we're warmed up before we go out on our jobs.
But then when we hit something that's about 75 pounds, too heavy or too big, we can ask for help so we don't get injured, and also because if we don't, then we risk damaging the packages, so it's easier to ask for assistance.
Q: What are your hours?
A: Typically from 8 in the morning to, depending, between 6 and 8 o'clock at night. Depends on the workload. Every area is different. Nobody has the same stops every day. And one day you might have a hundred packages, the next day you might have 60.
We don't have a cut-off time, where we come in at 5 o'clock. If you have a hundred deliveries, then you have to deliver a hundred deliveries before you can come back to the station. But you can ask for help. Your neighbors can come and help if you need help.
Q: Your neighbors -- you mean your colleagues?
A: Yeah, the ones around you or whoever.
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Keali'i Manner gets ready to hit the road for deliveries after inspecting and loading his truck at the FedEx distribution center at 129 Pohakulana Place near the airport.
What is one of the most out-of-the-way deliveries you've ever had to make?
A: You know the satellites up on the mountains, up near Kaena Point?
Q: The ones where you access it from Yokohama Beach side?
A: Yeah. And then there's another one out in Kahuku.
Q: You mean the one above Sunset?
A: Yeah, more by Sunset. Those are pretty good drives. Nice views, too.
Q: How about one of the most unusual deliveries you've ever had to make?
A: We get some odd ones. My weirdest story was having somebody -- a guy -- come naked to the door. (Laughter) Then there's some deliveries where they have these long stairways to the door, and we hope that they're not home, but they are.
Q: You have to wear a uniform, don't you?
A: Yes, we have a uniform.
Q: What color is it?
A: It's a dark purple, and the company supplies that. Just our shoes and socks we gotta purchase on our own -- black shoes and white socks.
Q: Is it true that the girls go crazy for a man in a uniform?
A: (Laughter) I'm not sure about that.
Q: Did you ever see that Tom Hanks movie ("Castaway," about a FedEx executive who gets stranded on a remote, uninhabited island)?
A: Yeah, that was pretty good.
Q: Do you remember what your first job was?
A: Gas Express car wash, in Pearl City, when it was Gas Express, way back.
Q: What is it now?
A: It's a Tesoro.
Q: You washed cars?
A: It was automated. We just drove it in and wiped it off at the end.