UPS trucks (technically, they call them "package cars." I bet they call fortune cookies "book crackers," too) are one of those common sorts of vehicles that just blends into the surrounding environment. Big, useful rolling turds bringing us our Hoagie of the Month Club selections and car parts we got off eBay. But they're worth a closer look.
Specifically, the front ends. The front end of those standard UPS trucks (technically, they're Morgan Olson or Union City Body P-500, P-600, or P-800 step vans) has had that same general look (on the right) for about as long as I can remember. The wide-eyed stare, the square gape-mouthed grille, the pleasingly fussy incised shapes and contours, the oblongs enclosing the lights, the afterthought marker reflectors — it's strange to realize how well I know that truck's face.
Then, a few years back, many of the trucks had their front ends redesigned, and for something that matters, really, so little to my life, I find myself oddly hostile to the new design. And it's not just resistance to change — I think I'd welcome a new design, just for the novelty value and to make dating unknown outdoor photos easier.
But this new look, with its low, squinty headlights and awkwardly trapezoidal grille, it just doesn't work for me. Incredibly, it feels overstyled which is sort of insane on a fleet-only truck like this.
But worse, the whole tone of the van changed. What once communicated a look of befuddled but determined willingness, like a dopey but dedicated workhorse, suddenly became something that felt a little pissed to have to slog all the way through the city because you — you lazy fuck — can't be bothered to go out and buy your own razors?
I'm sure the new design is more aerodynamic and saves UPS millions in fuel or something, but I can't help feeling it's damaged their perception, maybe unconsciously, by all of us who see these every day. Just give me my package and spare me the attitude, brown van.
Maybe I'm overthinking this. What do you think?