Barry Gilliam is back to work.
Just over a month after Gilliam's contract with FedEx Ground was terminated and locals along the deliveryman's route – which runs through East Hampton Village – pushed the company to hire him back, Gilliam was back on his route on Tuesday.
"I'm speechless over what everyone has done for me," said Gilliam, a Calverton resident, on Tuesday. "I don't even have words. It's like you see this in movies if you understand what I mean. What can I really say?"
Following FedEx Ground's decision to end its contract with Gilliam as an independent contractor, the community rallied around "someone we've all grown so fond of," as Valeria Smith, owner of The Monogram Shop, called him.
"It's just a sweet spot every day when he comes through the door," she said. "He is the happiest, most positive, cheerful, accommodating, smiley, wonderful guy I've ever met. I'm not kidding."
Upon hearing news that Gilliam – who had been working the route for 11 years – was no longer running the delivery route, hundreds in the East Hampton business community rallied together to form a petition to send to FedEx calling for his return. Meanwhile, over 1,500 people joined a Facebook group dedicated to making others aware of the situation.
Joi Jackson Perle, who grew up with Gilliam in East Hampton, started the Facebook group and though she noted many were "really, really upset" following Gilliam's termination, many continued to send notes to the company and stop using its services in the hopes that they would get the message.
"We kind of made a nuisance of ourselves with FedEx and I think they got the message, quite frankly," she said. "We started using UPS, the Post Office. And money talks."
FedEx Ground spokeswoman Erin Truxal noted that technically the company had not renewed a contract with Gilliam, but that, "Another independent contractor vendor that operates out of FedEx Ground’s Long Island station hired Mr. Gilliam as a driver for its business. This is a decision made solely by the independent contractor vendor."
Gilliam declined to comment in too much detail on the specifics of how he was hired back or what it would mean that he is not immediately contracting with FedEx.
But to some, those details are pale in comparison to the fact that he'll be walking through their doors once again.
"We're just so happy that justice was done," Smith said. "Or whatever was done. I don't care what happened. As long as he's back."