If anyone knows how much UTMB has grown over the years, it’s Eddie Long. As a senior materials handling tech, he’s worked for the university for nearly 26 years delivering materials, equipment, supplies and records to institutional departments. His original route on Galveston Island has expanded to the mainland, with deliveries to the Angleton Danbury and League City campuses as well, for 16 locations in all.
“UTMB is growing every day, getting bigger and bigger,” said Long, who usually gets to the Materials Management Warehouse in Galveston at 6 a.m. to start the day. “The minute I come in,I’m loading the truck. There’s no time to chit chat. It’s just come in, get everything loaded and get on the road. It keeps me busy.”
When I meet up with him mid-morning on a Wednesday, he’s already been to
Angleton and is just finishing up a delivery at the League City Campus. I watch as he unloads six large pallets and wheels them through a back door of the building.
“Sometimes, I make deliveries to the League City Campus twice a day,” explains Long. “They get a little bit of everything here: FedEx packages, packages on ice, dry ice and various types of medical equipment. If there are rush orders or they are short on supplies, I have to come back.They are a main priority.”
Oftentimes, if expensive medical equipment needs to be delivered to a clinic or department, Long will be the one to do it.
“I think my supervisor has my cell number on speed dial,” jokes Long. “I deal with a lot of expensive equipment, and when the department has something really big, they’ll ask me to handle it. It makes me feel good that they trust me.”
He’s constantly moving by foot or truck. While his pedometer shows he walks about 15,000 steps a day, Long passes the time behind the steering wheel listening to sports radio. He immediately lights up with the mention of football.
“I’m a huge NFL and college football fan. I’m a big Georgia Bulldog fan,” said Long. “The truck radio is on ESPN now. When I’m on the road between three and four hours a day, I have to have something buzzing in my ear. It’s a long drive.”
When we get back to Galveston, we run by the warehouse to see if there are any “rush” deliveries before continuing to the next stop at Shearn Moody Plaza. The way he maneuvers the large truck while telling me about his seven children—the oldest has graduated college and the youngest is six years old—is truly amazing. He quickly checks his mirrors before backing up so precisely that there are only millimeters to spare between the truck and the loading dock.
A security officer who works at the Plaza’s loading dock sees my look of amazement and tells me there isn’t another delivery driver like him.
“Eddie is really smooth—he backs up like he owns it,” she says proudly.
As quickly as he backs up, he jumps down from the truck and starts unloading. Although he’s busy, he never seems like he’s in a hurry when he’s interacting with his customers. He knows everyone by name—and they know him.
“I don’t usually have to look at the location, or ‘L’ number that signifies a delivery location. I go by the names on the package label because I know everybody,” said Long.
When a package is delivered, he is required to scan the room’s location number and bar code label on each package and obtain a signature for receipt.He picks up a package with a name he doesn’t recognize and talks to several employees before he finds the appropriate recipient. As it turns out, the package is for a contract employee who just moved into the building. He adds the new name to his mental Rolodex before greeting some of his favorite employees in Revenue Cycle Operations.
Cheryl Herrod, a business manager with RCO, has received deliveries from Long since she started at UTMB 15 years ago.
“Everybody knows and likes Eddie,” said Herrod. “He does anything for you. If you are waiting for a package, you can email or text him—he gave us all his cell phone number. He always has a smile on his face and is just a wonderful person.”
I tag along as Long makes stops at the Recycle Center, Laundry and Linen Services, Print Shop and Records Management,where we drop off and pick up several boxes of records that need to be sent across Galveston Campus. We say goodbye after he makes some deliveries at the School of Nursing, where I learn he recently was recognized for his great work with a gift card and special breakfast.
“That was really nice,” says Long, humbly. “I meet a lot of nice, awesome people and I enjoy getting to know them. I just love putting smiles on people’s faces.”