All Rivalries Should Be This Friendly

Paul Ziobro has written a wonderful story in the Wall Street Journal about a game of tag that is taking place between UPS and FedEx drivers.

While FedEx Corp. and UPS fight for customers and global supremacy in the delivery sector, a friendlier battle is being waged on streets across the U.S. FedEx and UPS drivers have taken to using sticky door labels, typically for notifying homeowners and businesses of a delivery attempt, in a quest to tag their rivals with their colors.

It isn’t clear when the tradition started, but it has caught on during the coronavirus pandemic to lighten a dark time and break up the monotony of an increasingly taxing job. Drivers share photos of their conquests on social media.

Participants say it’s all in good fun. In fact, while the companies remain fierce rivals and executives swear they would never take a job with their chief competitor, drivers from the opposing teams often maintain a cordial relationship. The bond is a function of crisscrossing the same busy streets, often hitting the same stops, while alone in their trucks. Sometimes they ask each other for directions or reminders of codes to enter a lot. It isn’t unheard of for drivers in rural areas to trade packages to save time.

FedEx and UPS higher-ups were mostly unaware of the friendly game played in parts of the country. But neither seems to have qualms about using company property for unintended purposes.

“During this global pandemic we could all use a smile,” a UPS spokesman said. “A friendly game of tag is one way of remembering to smile while our people continue to bring others the things they need to live their lives and run their businesses.”

A FedEx spokeswoman said: “Our team members are proud to deliver for our customers. Sometimes, they are known to literally stick it to the competition.”

In addition to the UPS-FedEx rivalry, Amazon and the US Postal Service vehicles have also been targeted..

This sounds like a wonderful way to add some joy to a job, a job that I am sure has gotten quite stressful over the past few months. I was happy to read that the executives are OK with the tagging and recognize the value in such an activity.

I might have to ask our FedEx and UPS drivers if they have participated in these shenanigans, and if not, maybe encourage them to do so.

I’d love to see more of this sort of friendly competition. Here are some classic rivalries just ripe for some pranking:

  • Coke vs Pepsi
  • Uber vs Lyft (although you might be tagging your own car…)
  • McDonald’s vs Burger King
  • and of course, the granddaddy of all rivalries
    • Villanova vs Harvard…

*image from Transport Topics

38 thoughts on “All Rivalries Should Be This Friendly

  1. This rivalry is a refreshing change. It seems so many oppositions involve not just trying to defeat your opponent, but to trash and humiliate them. Advertisements often praise one company while bashing another. (Does this remind you of many political contests?)

    We love our UPS driver. He has developed a love affair with our dog, and they have a well-orchestrated routine. When he drives up our driveway, our dog goes out to greet him and even climbs inside the truck. When it’s time to leave, the driver flings out a dog biscuit, which our dog eagerly chases while the driver accelerates away. It is pretty funny. The sweetest part is that when we’re not home, he’ll often leave the package on our front doorstep with a dog biscuit on top. I mean, who couldn’t love that?

    Liked by 3 people

  2. This wasn’t going on before I retired, and I guess things have changed a lot since. But when I was a letter carrier, I do remember being asked for directions a few times, from rival companies such as UPS and FedEX.

    One time some FedEX trucks rammed some UPS trucks. They were a bunch of FedUPS.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. did you ever give your rivals the wrong directions?

      you’ve got to watch out for those FedUPS 🙂

      and to me, UPS has the best 800 number going: 1-800-PICK-UPS since it has a double meaning…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I never intentionally gave my rivals the wrong number, but if they wanted the location of an address that was not on my route, I sometimes had to guess.

        That is a good 800 number. I think the postal service # is 1-800-USPUSSS. Couldn’t swear to that, though. It’s been awhile.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This is how you bring a little joy to what must certainly be a demanding and difficult job, most often done alone. Non-invasive, unobtrusive, and no real harm done. A good way for those who share a profession to enjoy an inside joke with each other. And I agree, that although the companies are rivals, the drivers are compatriots and certainly bear a good deal of respect for each other. I had not heard of this practice, but love the idea and comradery it builds. Great post, Jim! And Harvard can kiss our Villanova $&%#!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Those drivers put in long days, so this is no-harm, no-foul way to have some fun. We could probably beat Harvard on the basketball court, but maybe not on the Supreme Court…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. That is a surprisingly cordial rivalry not only because of the competition between the companies but also because UPS is unionized and FedEx is none union. I agree that more rivalries like this would be an improvement.

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