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The Delivery Life: What Am I Doing Out Here Anyway?

I was asked by a reporter yesterday why I go out and continue to deliver with the risk that's involved. He asked if it's a necessity, as he's talked to some other gig workers who said it's all about being able to eat and pay the rent. With the risk being high, why do I go out there?

I'm fortunate in this regard. Could we survive if I'm not delivering? For a little while. I don't feel a sense of desperation. At least I don't think I do. I think when it's all said and done it just feels like I need to be out there.

A crisis likes this always brings you back to your why

It's times like this where you start to get real about what you're doing and why. Especially when it means being in contact with people when everything about this says that's not a good idea.

One of the reasons I started doing delivery was because I want to do something else.

If this were Facebook or Twitter, you could insert the GIF of a confused expression. WHAT?????

For me, this has been all about doing something where I can pay the bills but give myself the flexibility to get a different project off the ground. In fact, it's a project that in some ways caused me to launch this website. In my other life I want to launch something that can bring people together who minister with older adults in a church ministry setting. The best way to do that is through developing content and putting it out there. The site is up, it's called Paradigm2.org.

Somewhere along the line, I got the idea that I could get some good practice at learning how to build a site by doing something that helps people with delivery. In a lot of ways, EntreCourier is a practice run so that one day I can really launch into Paradigm Squared.

But I'm seeing my why evolve a little

At least for the moment.

My wife and I have talked about all this, about what happens if things lock down even tighter and if delivery isn't an option. We talked about whether this might be the right time to shift a lot of energy into Paradigm.

But I'm also feeling a need to go out and deliver that goes beyond my original why. I think I'm still trying to nail it down, you know?

And I'm realizing, this is how I can help. This is how I can make a difference. Perhaps this is my way of contributing to helping people get through this mess.

Part of it is helping get the restaurants through it all. It's hard enough making a go of it in the restaurant business. Is me being out there helping them stay afloat? But there's more to it – can my interaction with the owners or staff when I pick up the food be at least a few seconds of encouragement?

And how can I encourage you through all this? That's why I started doing this “The Delivery Life” series. Maybe something in my experience, my thoughts, whatever, might be a spark for someone else.

Is there a way I can encourage you? If so, I want to hear it.

Another day down in the new temporary normal

One thing I'm experiencing has me wondering how these delivery companies will do.

Closed restaurants

And the issue isn't the closed restaurants. It's the support level when you get an order for a closed restaurant.

Your choices are to unassign the delivery or contact support to report the closure. If you cancel out of the order, some other driver is going to be sent that same order, and on and on until someone contacts support. The problem is, contacting support takes so long, especially because right now the support system for these platforms is overwhelmed.

One reason for that is many of these rely on overseas call centers for their support. When those call centers are based in countries that are locked down due to this pandemic, that means you have fewer people able to be in on the support. The company that adapts most quickly and upgrades their support systems is the one most likely to survive this thing.

How will bad weather fit into this mix?

I'll find out today. Forecasts are for 4-8 inches of snow in Denver. Could be a little crazy out there.

How are you doing?

Are restaurants still open in your community? Or are they delivery/takeout only like here in Denver? Are you in an area that's even more locked down than that?

What's your experience in the Delivery Life in a coronavirus age?

Could this help someone else? Please share it.

Brent Taylor

Thursday 19th of March 2020

Read all your articles, including these most recent ones since COVID 19 . This one seems as good as any to reply to. And I understand mine is a different perspective, perhaps even odd. But shared for variety.

It's just me and my wife as empty nesters. Her health and disabilities place her in the high, in fact extremely high, risk category. It is reasonable to state that were she to get this virus she would die. I cannot risk carrying this home to her. We're both self quarantined. The dashing I was doing was for flexibility in caring for her needs.

It seems pretty clear to me, and has for a couple weeks, that everyone ought to be quarantined to their homes -- that, like this snow storm today, there ought to be a compelling reason to go out. When travel advisories are in place, and DD is offering peak pay and bribes to get people to go out when we're advised to limit travel to essential, etc... I don't go out. And feel that restaurants should not be open -- employees home, eating out is not essential.

It is to the last point that I'm being the odd contrarian. I don't eat out. It's cheaper to buy groceries and eat at home. Yes, I have eaten out; and every time, it feels like a guilty pleasure. Recently I used a gift card -- and could have prepared the (really not that good) Mexican cuisine several times/meals for what was paid. Eating out is a luxury reserved to the well-to-do. I'm happy, when it's safe, to earn money fulfilling this luxury to those that want to waste their money on it.

So it won't surprise you to read here that I don't really care if there are no restaurants. Certainly feel like they should ALL be closed right now. That people should be staying home -- not picking up food from restaurants, not out delivering it in the gig economy, and not having their employees risking their health to venture out and interact with other people . Whatever one's take is on restaurants in safe times, it is irresponsible, unnecessary and frankly criminal (risking lives) that this industry is functioning at this time.

I certainly feel no obligation to help them stay in business by risking my life (and my wife's).

ronald.l.walter

Friday 27th of March 2020

Hi Brent.

I've got to tweak my system somehow so I better know when I've got comments. Sorry I didn't reply sooner. Sad thing is, I think I've had to apologize to you about this same thing before.

I hear you on that. I think that's a legitimate issue, whether meal delivery is truly an essential service. What did we do before there was Grubhub or Doordash or any of the others, right? And there's also a legitimate question about if this whole delivery thing is actually increasing the risk of spreading it.

I feel safe doing this - I take all the precautions. I also see restaurants taking incredible precautions. But then I see the idiotic ways people use gloves - they're not really helping for most people - and I see the lack of hygiene with some couriers, and I really question if it's a good idea to allow delivery.

I think you are wise - there's nothing about doing any of this that's worth risking your health and especially your wife's. I did make the decision to pause delivery work myself, though for me it was more of a good excuse to pour some more time into other things I want to do.

I'll tell you one of the most irritating things about this whole thing - you and I can be at different levels about how we approach things but I think for both of us there's extreme caution about what we do. So then the mayor in Denver announces the lockdown and originally announced it would include pot shops, and immediately there are huge crowds of people waiting in line, no distance, pretty much undoing all that we've all been trying to do just so they can get their stash.

And maybe that makes your point even better - when you're taking every precaution and you've still got people like that running around not caring and spreading this thing. It's a scary time.

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