Unlike some UPS drivers, Rob Shuttleworth excelled at making friends with most of the dogs on his route—20 or 30 dogs every day came out to greet him on his delivery rounds.
“If they wanted a dog treat, they knew they had to sit down first,” Shuttleworth laughed. “I don’t have animals, so seeing them every day was one of the best things about the job.”
For the past 20 years, Rob, 57, donned shorts and sunglasses, left his home in Northridge, loaded his brown UPS delivery truck near the Van Nuys airport and drove the 32 miles to western Malibu. His route included the neighborhoods and businesses of Malibu Park, Trancas Highlands, Malibu West, Broad Beach and Pacific Coast Highway up to Encinal Road. Occasionally, during his lunchtime, he’d go body surfing.
When resident Michelle Grosman found out Shuttleworth was planning to retire after 20 years in Malibu and a total of 37 years with UPS, she sent an email blast to as many neighbors on Shuttleworth’s route that she knew. They were invited to show up at the Postal Annex+ at Trancas Country Market last Thursday, July 8, at 4 p.m.—it would be Rob’s very last day on the job and Postal Annex+ was one of his longest stops.
“He’s such a wonderful person and we’ll be sorry to see him go,” Michelle wrote in an email. “He was a lifeline during the Woolsey fire and the Covid lockdown … The thing that stood out the most was his caring and kindness—we felt he really cared about us and every one of his customers. “
“Rob always showed up with a friendly smile, treats for the dogs and helpful tips for my gardening. He was a superhero to my grandson, who believed that all toys arrived on Rob’s truck,” she elaborated. “We moved to Malibu 10 years ago and he was so welcoming and personable. He always brought packages right up to the front door, and when we were away, he’d put the deliveries out of sight.”
Residents, including kids, dogs and small business owners, turned up at Postal Annex to say their goodbyes.
Sherman Baylin, owner of Sherman’s Place dog grooming, laughed and said Shuttleworth was “the last of the great UPS drivers.”
“On the days I was grooming really hairy dogs, he would bring the packages in even with all the barking and all the dog hair blowing right at him,” Baylin said. “He was amazing, and his hair never moved—he was always unscathed and never left the packages outside.”
When Shuttleworth first started working in Malibu, he noticed right away that the pace of life was less hectic than it was where he grew up in the San Fernando Valley.
“I had to learn to slow down,” he said. “It’s a small town feeling—very tightknit where everybody knows everybody else. I enjoyed it. I couldn’t believe UPS paid me to drive to the beach every day.
“I considered Malibu my home for the past 20 years,” he continued. “I worked 10 or 11 hours a day most days, and I spent more time in Malibu than at home.”
The Woolsey Fire occurred after Shuttleworth had already been working in Malibu for many years, and he knew most everyone on his route—and his route included the brunt of the 473 houses that burned. He watched the fire on TV and recognized many of his customers’properties.
“A week after the fire, I was riding with another driver in eastern Malibu. We ran into a sheriff I know, and I asked her to drive me through my route so I could see how it was affected. I couldn’t believe the total devastation of it,” he said.
“In Malibu Park, we pulled up right behind two of my customers on Morning View just as they were seeing their burned-down house for the first time, and I’m like, ‘Oh my God.’ The devastation was unreal, and the loss of trees and everything. I saw things from a different perspective,” he continued.
“It’s nice to see people rebuilding, and there are some still living away that I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to, but I’m sure I’ll be back to visit.”
In reflecting on 37 years with the same company, Shuttleworth said, “Every day, I went out and did my job to the best of my ability”—but times changed. According to the longtime driver, UPS started to “micromanage” its employees. In addition, his newer co-workers were different, he said: “I’m the last of a dying breed. None of the delivery drivers starting work today seem to work as hard or as diligently as I do. I come from a different era.”
Shuttleworth’s wife, Tracy, is still working, but he plans to keep busy with a huge garden in his backyard—so huge it has its own Instagram page—and with golfing and visiting his two adult children, Rachael and Robbie.