Delivering parcels in a Coronavirus Lockdown

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…

WeeMike

Crazy times but parcels still need delivering.

So I’ve not written anything down for a while yet again, but for some reason I wanted to start again during these crazy times, just to lighten the load on my mind.

Going back a month or so I’d gotten into a good routine work and exercise wise.

But then one Friday I hurt my lower back and it’s not been right since.

I’d rushed loading the van of 200 odd parcels at an m.o.d collection and I felt a twinge in the middle of my lower back, but brushed it off as just a sign of tiredness.

But then the last 4 weeks have said otherwise.

I’ve not done anything outside of work exercise wise to stress it and during work I’ve kept the relevant body shape when lifting parcels etc to ease the strain but it’s still lingering.

It’s eased this last week or so after having a few days off work, so I’m not concerned it’s anything major, I’m just trying to manage it as each day comes.

I’ve not done any barbell squats since as when I have a heavy load on my shoulders I can feel the compression in the hurt area, so I’ve stuck to dumbell squats for a while.

Anyway, today, fuck me, Corona Virus has fucked the world.

3 weeks ago I’d done our normal monthly bulk shop of food and then that night I’d read something on twitter about the virus and thought that this was serious and we’d better be prepared.

And today I’m right, fuck me am I right.

Everything I’ve done over the last 10 years or so has been to build a fit, healthy and resilient body and mind.

Sure I have my downs, but by working on myself physically and mentally they don’t last long and I bounced back or rode the wave better than most people do.

And I’m really thankful for what I’ve put myself through during those years because it’s coming in very useful now.

We’re about to start being affected financially due to my partner having reduced hours, so I’ve now got to do some extra hours and days work to make up for it.

But I don’t know what the work volume will be like for me as soon there won’t be any businesses to send parcels through our company, so we’ll just have to see how it goes.

It was pretty busy last week as I think people were panic buying certain stuff whilst they could, how long it continues though who knows.

I was a little angry with myself at first last week as our debt situation is putting an unnecessary strain on our finances, but it is what it is and we’ll get through it as we always do.

I’m just glad to be fit and healthy at this moment in time, as this seems to be the best position anyone can find themselves in right now.

Until next time…

WeeMike

Two weeks fly by and I might finally be listening to my body.

Been a decent few weeks work wise. Not been overly busy and not too quiet that it’s been boring. Not that even if it was quiet it would be boring, delivering parcels always seems to bring up something new.

Exercise wise I’ve done my basic workout every weekday evening except Fridays and last weekend I did one heavy workout of lunges and overhead presses.

I was going to put together a workout plan for the week and weekends, but looking back over last year and how I’m now feeling about lifting, I’ve decided to not put anything together.

On so many occasions last year I had a plan of what I wanted to do but it was ruined by a hard day at work and/or being physically tired at the weekend. I then got demotivated because I wasn’t sticking to what I had planned and then didn’t do anything at all exercise wise outside of my work day.

So looking back over this year so far, it’s actually been my most active outside of work. And it can’t be a coincidence.

I’m doing basic exercises during the week, after a physically and mentally draining day at work and then I’m seeing how I feel at the weekends and going from there.

So far I’ve not done a really heavy weights workout as such, but they have been heavy enough to be challenging and most importantly they have been what I have needed/could do on that day.

Rather than just having a plan set out and doing it regardless of how my body has been feeling. I’ve listened to my body and done something that I think will balance things out.

And so far I’m feeling a lot better for it.

It’s taken me a long while to realise this, but I’ve got to balance what I do outside of work exercise wise, with how I’m feeling after a days work.

Some days I’ve come home and felt great, full of energy and no aches, but I know if I go do heavy weights of any kind that taxes my body, I’ll pay for it the next few days with various aches and pains from carrying so many boxes throughout the day.

And some days I’ve come home with an ache in my back or knees from carrying shit all day, but I’ve gone and done just my basic workout and I’ve felt ok the next day and so it seems I’ve found the balance I need right now.

Maybe I’ve been too stubborn in not wanting to realise that I can’t push my body outside of work like I used to, or at least do it less and recover more.

Lets see how the next month goes.

Until next time…

 

Only Chin Ups, Push Ups and Squats again.

Arrived at the depot for 6:45am, handled 276 parcels throughout the day and left the depot at 5:15pm. 10.5hr day.

Pretty busy on the parcel front again, but more so with collections, loads of them today. And a fair whack of bulky heavy shit too, another day where I finished feeling whacked again.

I fell well behind from around lunch time today too, so had to really go for it all afternoon just to finish by a decent time.

The delay was due to getting stuck behind a funeral procession.

No point getting annoyed by it, someone’s passed away after all. But a couple of idiot drivers were trying to get passed on the pavement and/or places they shouldn’t have tried.

The people following the procession were having none of it and didn’t move out of the way, as they shouldn’t have had to. And I felt like getting out of the van and knocking on the window of one of the drivers and calling them the cunt they were being, but I thought better of it in front of someone’s loved one being dead an all.

Got home and just did another basic workout again.

10 chin ups

20 push ups.

10 squats with a 20kg weight in my arms.

Hoping to do a weights workout tomorrow, we’ll see how the day goes.

Until next time…

Mon 27.01.20

Arrived at the depot for 6:30am, handled 345 parcels throughout the day and left the depot at 5:15pm. 10.75hr day.

Shit a brick there was a lot of parcels today. Everywhere had them. Both M.O.D sites, all the regular customers had more than normal and all the businesses too. Busiest day of the year so far easily.

Got home and felt whacked so just did my basic workout.

10 chin ups.

20 push ups.

10 squats holding a 20kg weight in my arms.

Didn’t end up doing a weights workout at the weekend either. I sorted out a couple of things with our car and did some financial stuff and just didn’t feel like doing one.

Until next time…

Fri 24.01.20

Arrived at the depot for 6:30am, handled 240 parcels throughout the day and left the depot at 4:45pm. 10.25hrs again, bosh.

A quiet end to the week the last few days, which is good, able to enjoy the job rather than rushing around every day. Just need the weather to buck up, or at least provide some sunshine to brighten the day.

Seems I’ve gotten a handle on this route of late. I’ve been able to work out where the delays might be and compensate for them, or avoid them altogether.

I’ve been informed of the finish time for this route and it will be interesting once it gets busy again if this is something that can be kept to, because I don’t think it can, we’ll see though.

No migraine today which is good, means it was just a one dayer. No squats though as it’s another rest day, I think i’ll probably make it a 3 day rest week and do something on Sunday, we’ll see what crops up tomorrow.

Until next time…

Thurs 23.01.20

Arrived at the depot for 6:30am, handled 205 parcels throughout the day and left the depot at 4:45pm. 10.25hrs nice.

Pretty quiet day compared to the rest of the week, volume was way down as were the collections too.

Had a banging migraine all day though. Woke up with it, or should I say got woken up at around 4am, dreaming I had a headache and alas I did.

Not sure what caused it this time, could have been the few drinks from the night before, but didn’t drink any more than I normally do, just a few bottles of beer during a week day as always.

Got home this evening and it had nearly gone, so hopefully it’s just a short one and it’s done.

A little gutted to not be able to continue my daily squats as I was on a good role. But a forced rest is fine, I’ll take a few days off anything exercise wise as planned and do something over the weekend.

Until next time…