So, a week of lock down deliveries has been and gone. That was weird, awesome, a bit more weird and even more awesome at the same time.
I feel like I’m writing this today for others to read. I know no-one reads this blog, that’s fine as I generally only use it for a mind dump when I need to, but in case someone does read this, I wanted to write something before they make a snap judgement and comment accordingly.
“I know I’m just a parcel deliver driver. I’m not saving peoples lives on the front line. I’m not a doctor, nurse or health worker who are without a doubt under extreme challenges at the best of times, let alone during a time like this, watching helplessly as people die in front of them.
But everybody who is still able to work is facing different challenges at this time and this is my mind dump of what challenges I face as a delivery driver right now.”
So, where do I begin.
Firstly, I was foolish to think that the parcel volume might decrease. Of course more retail shops closing means more people ordering things online. What was I thinking?
The government said that all but a few retail stores and businesses have to close, but online retailers can continue, so you know those same businesses warehouse and factory staff don’t matter in a lock down?
I’m 100% sure I’ve delivered a lot of non-essential items this week to people who are neither working from home nor vunerable and the item was not vital for their life in the next few months.
But if the government don’t put a stop to it, those same companies won’t stop selling things and those same people won’t stop ordering things as some don’t seem to think on a larger enough scale.
Our depot have brought in measures to help distance ourselves from each other, but a lot of us think that it’s inevitable that we’ll come into contact with something contaminated when there is such a high volume of parcels coming through the depot.
In today’s world of rapid delivery, something can be contaminated and in our depot and on a customers doorstep in well under 24hrs.
I’ve been asked by a few people about that and I’ve just simply said to be careful what you do with the package, don’t put it down anywhere, empty the contents outside if you can and get rid of the box straight away, then put the items to one side somewhere and if you want to clean them and then of course wash your hands thoroughly before touching anything else in your house.
That’s about as much as I can do other than our company disinfecting every parcel that comes into the depot, but I don’t see logistically how that would work.
At a guess I’d say our parcel volume has probably gone up 50% in the last 2 weeks, which is unheard of at this time of year and is close to if not beating some of the peak Christmas levels.
Add into the mix of some drivers being off ill/self isolating, not being able to get replacement drivers as the agencies are inundated with requests for drivers and you have a shit show of a pile of parcels building up that can’t be delivered.
And it’s the same for a number of other courier companies. I came across a few drivers this week from other companies and they said the same thing, business has gone through the roof and they can’t keep up with it.
When it’s peak time as a parcel delivery driver, you know it’s busy and will be so for a defined period that comes to an end.
But that’s the issue right now, we don’t know when this level of busyness will end.
Having to deal with the challenging aspects of delivering during this time as well as the busyness of it, is physically and mentally draining.
Physically I can pretty much cope with the job regardless of how busy it is, I keep myself fit and strong outside of work by doing various exercises and it helps during busy times like this, but mentally, I don’t think you can prepare completely for times like this.
I’ve gone through enough hard times mentally and physically to become more resilient than a lot of people, but times like this still do funny things to even a strong mind and body.
Let me breakdown what its like right now making a delivery.
I’ve made the decision that there is no point me wearing protective clothing (gloves/mask) as the parcels are not disinfected at any point and nor is the depot/warehouse/vans etc.
So if I were to where gloves it wouldn’t stop the spread of anything from one parcel to the next, nor to my van or to someone’s doorstep etc.
What I am doing is making sure I’m not touching things uneccesarily when I’m out of the depot.
And it goes a little something like this.
Approach the delivery point. Assess the situation around the delivery point. What am I going to have to touch to gain access to people’s properties, can I get in/on without using my hands.
Knocking on peoples doors, ringing their bells. Would wearing gloves make any difference at this point? Sure I can use hand sanitiser before and after every delivery, but then my hands would be roar seeing as though I make around anything up to 100 deliveries and collections in a day and handle around 250 packages everyday.
So once I’ve gained entry to the property and I’ve knocked on the door, I leave the parcels on the doorstep, step back and wait.
I wait for the inevitable shadow to arrive at the door, hesitantly opening the door a little and asking anxiously “who is it, what do you want”. Because something I noticed straight away was a lot of people sounded anxious when answering their door, even big strong men who I would expect to whip open the door and said “yeah, what do you want mate”.
When I respond “it’s xxx with a delivery for you”. Wow, things change quickly. Wham the door opens!. A smiling face greets me (most times) and the voice changes to one of happiness and joy.
“Oh great, that’s amazing, thank you so much”.
Instantly seeing the change in people’s reactions has been pretty awesome and it does make me even more happier than normal to be able to put smiles on people’s faces at the moment (because that’s one of the reasons I enjoy being a parcel delivery guy, I like seeing happy faces when I deliver things).
A very short conversation from a distance containing the repeated words of “your welcome, no problem at all, just doing my job” and then I walk away and get back into my van.
All whilst trying to remember to not touch things I don’t need to.
Deep down I must admit I’ve often been thinking “I don’t want to be delivering some extra cushions or garden furniture or diy items for you to ‘overcome the boredom’ of being at home”.
I’m risking spreading this virus around, putting myself in more danger than I should be of contracting it and equally as important I’m putting the vunerable in more danger than is necessary.
Because I deliver on a rural route, I deliver to a higher than normal amount of older people and I’m aware of how I could be spreading this virus around.
If I was just visiting the vunerable with food, medical items and other things they needed, sure ok, I could cope a bit better mentally with that.
But some of the people I have been delivering to, I realise that they don’t need the items I’m delivering as it’s a 3rd pair of shoes/item of clothing in 2 weeks that they’ve already told me they’ll be returning because they’ve changed their minds and/or don’t need them any more.
On the flip side, I have had some people say to me apologetically “I’m sorry for making you come out like this, but I really needed this for xxx”.
That’s cool, I’m fine with that and you don’t need to apologise, which I’ve probably said more times this week than I ever have.
And that’s one of the many mental challenges at the moment. Not commenting on the serial shoppers, because I find it very difficult to not say a sarcastic comment or just laugh it off.
“haha yeah, those shoes huh, they keep ordering themselves and hey don’t worry about Mrs Jones delivery that she really needs at the moment because it’s vital to her health that I can’t deliver today because I’ve got so many deliveries like yorus”.
Some people have said, oh but remember you’re a delivery driver, just get on and deliver the parcels you’re paid to do. It doesn’t matter what’s in them, just do your job.
Yeah, because that’s all that is important right now isn’t it, just getting on doing a ‘normal’ job.
No job that is still in business is ‘normal’ right now. We’ve all got to make decisions on a daily basis as to what should be normal and what shouldn’t be normal.
And for me as a parcel delivery guy, I feel that delivering non-essential items that are not food or medically related shouldn’t be a priority.
Only once this week did I not get through my whole route. And I got home that night and thought about any essential items that had been ordered, that were now sat in my van for another day, just because so many people had been ordering things that they didn’t really need right now.
I can’t put any blame on the company I work for, there business is to deliver what ever turns up in the warehouse, I get that. I just wish that us human beings would think about the larger picture instead and not order anything online that isn’t essential.
I also don’t understand where people are getting the money from either. I mean, most people who are at home right now are either on partly reduced pay or greatly reduced pay. So why the fuck are they still spending money on things that can wait until this is all over?
My partner has been furloughed and we’re taking a hit financially and it will add to our long term debt which this year is an especially bad kicker as we’d just started to get on top of it.
Now though, we’re looking at adding more to the total debt and probably another few years to pay it off just to get through this period.
But I’m not going out still spending money on things I don’t need.
I love gardening and that costs money when you need new things for it. I love music, films and reading amongst other things too.
But I’ve not spent a single penny on anything other than food, shelter and the bills that go with them the last few weeks and I won’t again until everything is back to normal.
Oh well, nothing queer as folk!
I think I need to go outside for a bit after all that, it was good to write it all down and I feel like I could write some more, but I think it’s rum time, hmmm it’s only 2pm…. oh fuck it, a rum and sit in the garden it is!
Until next time…