Four years ago, I was out jogging with an old friend when she told me a puzzling story: Her longtime UPS driver had just reappeared after more than a monthlong absence. He’d been hospitalized for stress, she told me.
Stress? How stressful could that job be? So I asked to meet him.
Over coffee, the deliveryman, whom I’ll call Bill (he asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation from the company), explained that United Parcel Service had been upgrading its systems for tracking employees. Now the truck he drove was full of sensors. They reported when he opened the bulkhead door. When he backed up. When his foot was on the brake. When he was idling. When he buckled his safety belt. A high-resolution stream of data, including all that information and his GPS coordinates, flowed back to the UPS offices. The system is called “telematics.”