Friends. If you haven’t heard of Jay Hardesty or #pupsofjay on Instagram, today is your lucky day!
Jay is a UPS driver from New Orleans, Louisiana, who posts amazing photographs on his Instagram page. He started using the hashtag #pupsofjay to tag photos of himself with the adorable dogs along his route, capturing the hearts of many fans.
It is people like Jay who are the catalyst for my “Inspiring Interview” series. I adore seeing someone doing something purely for the sake of bringing joy and inspiration into the world! And in my opinion, we could all use more of this right now.
From the absolutely delicious colors of the houses and skyline in New Orleans, to the heart-warming posts tagged with #pupsofjay, Jay’s Instagram page is an ideal place to find inspiration.
Okay, let’s get to the interview!
Hilary: Hi Jay, can you tell us about your work and where you live?
Jay: I’ve been driving for UPS for 8 years. And I live in New Orleans, La.
Hilary: What is it like to live in New Orleans? What is your favorite thing about living there?
Jay: I love New Orleans. I’m born and raised here. My favorite thing is the happiness of the people. Everyone seems to always be in a joyful mood.
Hilary: What is your favorite thing about being a UPS driver?
Jay: The fact that I bring gifts and the mailman brings bills, is kind of cool.
Hilary: What is typically the best part of your day?
Jay: When a customer is really satisfied with something I’ve brought them. It makes me feel good. It makes me feel important. A job well done.
Hilary: The photos you take for your Instagram page are so wonderful! Do you have a background in photography? How do you capture such beautiful photographs?
Jay: I do not have a background in photography. I picked up taking pictures being inspired by the colorful houses on my route and just started taking photos of them.
Hilary: That’s amazing! Can you tell us about #pupsofjay and how it got started?
Jay: One Friday I picked up a dog, took a photo and posted it on my Instagram. I got a bunch of likes then just made it a point to be consistent with the weekly dog photos. About two years later, a writer on my route, Jamie Attenberg posted about my dog photos and her followers (who are mostly dog lovers) started retweeting and sharing it like crazy and it spread from there.
Hilary: I love this story! Have there been any other animals, other than dogs, along your route that you would consider taking a photograph with? What is the most unusual pet that you’ve seen?
Jay: I take pictures with cats maybe once a year just because. I’ve seen snakes and possums but the craziest ones were a goat and a pig.
Hilary: A goat and a pig — I’m sure that was so exciting! I’ve noticed many posts on your Instagram page featuring your family and your beautiful niece. Can you tell us how they inspire you and influence your life?
Jay: My niece was born in Washington DC, and when they moved back to New Orleans, I stopped going out on Friday nights so I could wake up early on Saturday mornings to spend the day with her and go with her on outings to the park, Children’s Museum, the Zoo, Aquarium etc. Anything she was doing, I was there and that was my new weekend. My sister and I are very close so them moving back to New Orleans from DC inspired a big lifestyle change for me.
Hilary: She is absolutely precious! And that sounds like the perfect weekend. How are you weathering the quarantine and finding inspiration and positivity?
Jay: My schedule hasn’t changed since I’m an essential worker so I didn’t really adjust to a new normal like everyone else. Deliveries are high right now, so it just feels like holiday shipping season; but with nicer weather. My route is in a heavy business neighborhood and a lot of them are closed right now so that’s a bit different. I’m inspired because when people answer the door, they’re sad and overwhelmed with everything going on and I can see how a short visit from me brightens up their day.
Hilary: Everyone along your route is very lucky to have you! What advice would you give to someone who is struggling to stay positive during this time?
Jay: It helps me to filter the news I get about everything because there’s so much false information going around. I know a lot of people have a lot of downtime right now and are just glued to the news. So I would say try to limit that and use this time to find a hobby or something that makes you happy to fill the void.
Hilary: That sounds like wonderful advice that we all need to hear right now. Do you have any plans for the future that you’d like to share with us?
Jay: I’m happy where I am right now. But who knows, anything is possible.
Hilary: What is one interesting thing about you or about your life that we may not know from following you on Instagram?
Jay: On Sundays I shut the world out and have what I call, “Jay Day”… everyone in my life knows it’s my day to not be bothered so don’t even invite me. I eat pizza and watch movies all day to reset myself for the week.