Dire straits: The refugee boat broke down. Twice. And 12-year-old Giap (pronounced ‘Yap’) Nguyen was stranded with 20 other Vietnamese refugees – all strangers – on a tiny island between Hai Phong, Vietnam, and Hong Kong.
“We ate the boat provisions, then we ate everything to eat on the island,” Giap said. “After that, we starved.”
He grew so weak from hunger he couldn’t stand.
After a propeller repair, the boat relaunched. The three-month escape from Vietnam in 1980 was harrowing … but better than what Giap left behind.
Dreaming of a brighter future: Today, Giap smoothly guides his delivery truck through Clifton, New Jersey. He’s worked for UPS nearly 35 of his 53 years now.
Giap came on board in 1986 as a loss prevention audit clerk and climbed behind the wheel on his first delivery route in 2001. He’s been a familiar figure in the community ever since.
“UPS is a very good company,” he said. “A hard worker can do very well for himself and his family.”
On average, UPS package delivery drivers earn $95,000 per year in wages, plus an additional $50,000 in health, welfare and pension contributions, for a total compensation package of about $145,000.
Giap’s decades of dedication have rewarded him. His suburban house is straight out of the American Dream, and his home television catches every game of Sunday football.
“All I really wanted when I was a little boy was a television I could sit and watch,” he said. “We didn’t have electricity. We didn’t even have running water. TV was my wildest dream.”
Giving back: Giap sends money back to Vietnam – enough to build a beautiful house for his mother in their native Quảng Ninh province. He also helped put three nieces through college – two are accountants now, one a lawyer.
“We’re comfortable,” Giap said. “We’re blessed.”
Filmmaker Kyle Le made a 30-minute documentary telling Giap’s story. Watch it here.
And learn more about how UPS delivers careers here.