I’ve decided to write a post about a day in the life of a delivery driver.
That delivery driver being me of course. And that delivery driving being in a 3.5-tonne long wheel base high top sprinter van.
Be aware this is a long fucking post, so I’ve got a double rum n coke and some jaffa cakes to keep me going, I’d suggest the same for you!
If you’re reading this and are a delivery driver, or know someone who is. You’ll probably know that any day as a parcel delivery driver isn’t, in fact, boring or even mundane, especially when you’re delivering parcels in timed slots throughout the day.
Also, the stereotypical delivery driver isn’t a deadbeat, can’t get a job anywhere else, doesn’t have people skills etc.
Some might be, but on the whole, we’re normal decent intelligent human beings. Honest.
I can also assure anyone thinking otherwise, that a proper parcel delivery driver is highly analytical, has great organisational skills, along with excellent people skills and they are generally very good drivers.
There are numerous other skills in the day to day life of a parcel delivery driver, but if you’re after an easy job that you can coast through without using your brain, this isn’t the one for you.
Or at least it shouldn’t be. Like any other job. If you’re not happy doing it, fuck off somewhere else and find one you are happy doing. There’s nothing worse than meeting people who hate their jobs. I can tell them from a mile off and not only does it look bad on the company obviously, it just makes them look like bad people, which often is the complete opposite, they’ve just allowed the wrong job to turn them into someone who they are not.
Right, enough of the deep shit.
Parcel delivery driving is fucking hard work, long hours and sometimes people can be complete and utter dicks and make you want to commit murder, but one thing it isn’t though is boring, mundane or low paid (for the right company). I’ll get into that later though.
The job I do requires me to keep my wits about me all day and I don’t get any rest during the day, once I leave the depo, it’s Thunderbirds a go, all fucking day, 10-12hrs of it and yes it’s fucking tiring, but I’d not have it any other way.
I could work in a 15-30 minute break somewhere I guess, but it means getting home 15-30 minutes later and when you’re doing 10-12hrs, it makes a difference.
Writing this, I wanted to see my current work life down in words and also in case anyone else was thinking of becoming a delivery driver and wanted to know about it.
I’m not going to name the company I work for, nor people’s names or exact money I earn, some might be able to guess who I work for, but I want to go into as much detail as I can without saying it exactly.
Here we go then.
It’s 6 am, the alarm goes off. Another day beckons. I’ve always been an easy riser. I enjoy waking up knowing that I have another day in front of me. It means I’ve done something right the day before. I’m alive, I’ve got a roof over my head, food in my belly and soon I’ll have clothes on my back too.
I’m winning and it’s fucking awesome.
If you don’t wake up like that at least once or twice a week, change fucking jobs. Life is short, you’re fucking awesome, so go find something that makes you feel that way too.
I fucking love Tony Robbins.
I’ve never got stuck in a job that I hated so much that I didn’t want to get up every day. If it ever got remotely close to that, I simply changed jobs.
And yes it is that easy. I’ve gotten myself into difficult situations before job wise. But there is always a way out, you just have to make the decision and cope with the consequences.
So, it’s 6 am. It’s not an early start by any means (compared to my last job getting up at 2 am) but it’s early enough that I have to be methodical in my evenings to make sure I get to bed around 10 pm every night to get 6-7+ hours of sleep.
Other people’s sleep habits are different, but I need 6-7hrs+ of good sleep to be fully functioning the next day. And seeing as though I have to be on the ball straight away when I get into work, then sleep is one of the most important aspects of my working life.
Anyway. (I like that word, anyway.)
I get dressed into my works clothing which is laid out the night before in our spare room. Mainly because I like to be organised, but also it saves times in the morning fumbling around whilst waking up bleary eyed.
I head downstairs and put the kettle on and make a cup of coffee. I used to drink tea, being British that’s probably a given. But then I found coffee and the rest is history as they say. Although I do generally stick to 1 or 2 cups a day only, I specifically only use it to wake me up in the mornings during the week and at the weekend for a mid morning drink.
I take my daily supplements, vitamins etc and then I get my lunch ready for the day. I’ve always prepared my own lunch as I’m a fussy eater and I can eat exactly what I like every day. Plus it saves a shit load of money.
I’ve prepared my breakfast the night before so I don’t wake my partner up. I like to have a raw milk protein shake with a banana in for breakfast every morning and it needs to be blended together so makes a lot of noise.
As a considerate person, it’s not something I should be doing at 6 am!
Once my day’s food is ready, I sit down on the sofa in the living room. Drink my coffee, take my daily supplements and then read some of the previous evening’s news. I generally don’t read every day worldly news, just sports and technology news. The rest I tend to look at every other day or let other people tell me about. I find most of it too fucking depressing or boring.
I leave for work around 6:45 am most days and from the moment I arrive I have to be on the ball, wide awake, ready for action straight away.
But let me reverse for a second. From the moment I step into my van, I need to be alert, responsive and responsible.
I can’t state those three words highly enough.
Alert. Responsive. Responsible.
I see far far too many drivers early in the morning who are still half a fucking sleep.
I know of far too many people who literally get into their cars/vans/trucks to drive to work within 5-10 minutes of getting out of bed.
It’s fucking irresponsible and down right disrespectful to your fellow human beings. Stop it!
I’ve seen accidents first thing in the mornings, which I don’t doubt for a second have been caused by someone’s lack of responsiveness and alertness, most likely due to not being awake enough.
So. If you’re a delivery driver for a living, don’t fucking do it. We have more responsibility as drivers than everyone else does, so we need to be setting the standard. Simple.
And even if you don’t drive for a living, don’t drive half a sleep for fuck sake. Be a responsible person and respect other people by driving fully awake and alert.
So I’m in my van at6:45 am every morning. I get out my daily record sheet to record my starting mileage etc. I do my daily checks on the van, lights, fluids, fuel etc. Then I head off to my depo.
As a delivery driver you should have daily checks on the vehicle you’re driving, regardless of size and that should include checking you have enough fuel for the day.
I’ve known of several drivers who have run out of fuel in the middle of a run, delivery drop etc and they’re fucking dicks. It causes huge issues for everyone, not just you. Just five minutes a day checking your vehicle and you’re sorted.
Now, whilst I’m technically self employed, like most other carrier companies who don’t directly employ drivers, it’s a sham and a load of bollocks.
I’m not really self employed. I work for one company. I don’t get a choice of the days when I work. I don’t get paid sick pay or holiday pay either.
It is what it is, and is something I’m not going to get into on this post. I knew what I was signing up to when I joined this company, and I’m happy enough with it.
If you’re someone who likes to take a week or two of holidays a year, you have kids and need a day off here and there, then this most likely isn’t the job for you.
Sure you can take the time off if you want. But it will be unpaid and most likely you’ll be out of pocket as you’ll still be paying for your van and insurance policies etc.
I’m fully intending to see this year out without any holiday myself and then see how I feel next year and I might stay or move on. I’m earning more money than I have ever before, doing a job a love and that’s enough for me right now.
Anyway. So I arrive at the depo for around 7am.
From the moment I step out of the van it’s Thunderbirds are go again.
I collect my parcel scanner, look at my route information for the day and off I go starting to scan my parcels.
Once I’ve scanned each parcel, I lay them out around my van, roughly in the order I’m going to deliver them in.
This initial scanning process can take anywhere from 60-90 minutes, every, single, fucking morning.
And I say it like that because when people order and send things they don’t check the addresses they are using properly.
On a daily basis I’d say I can have up to 25% of my parcels with incomplete or weird addresses on them.
That doesn’t sound a big thing, but when it’s someone’s name, with just the road name or village/town name and nothing else, it can take a while to sort it out. Sometimes I can’t sort it out whilst at the depo, so I have to do it whilst out on the road, which I’ll get to later.
Once all the parcels are scanned on my scanner, I then have to route my day’s work.
To begin with, this is by far the hardest part of the job. If you’re new to a route and don’t know the area, you have no chance. I was regularly doing 13-14hr days for my first few weeks as I just didn’t know my area.
The scanner the company uses does have satellite navigation on and it can organise your route into a postcode sequence, but for anyone who knows’s postcodes here in the UK, that isn’t always helpful, to say the least!
Anyway, once you get to know the route, you can then organise it the way you want to based on your knowledge of the area.
For me, this has gone from 90 minutes work in the mornings to around 20 minutes, and even though I’ve been delivering to the same route for the last 3 months, I still have issues finding some addresses.
It’s how you cope with the parcels with the weird address that will define how your day goes and if you can make it long term as a delivery driver too.
The reason I say this is that not a single day has gone by that I haven’t had at least a few parcels with weird addresses on and they often crop up during a period of the day when you have already been delayed due to traffic, parking issues, customers etc.
If you can resolve address issues before you leave your depo, then great, it will save you double the time out on the road.
I know several people who used to be delivery drivers long before satellite navigation and the internet was available to search addresses on etc and to say they have encyclopaedic brains is an understatement.
Compared to 20 years ago, delivery driving is a breeze nowadays.
So I route my parcels into an order that I think is best for the day.
No day yet has been the same route wise. And that is mainly due to the company I work for offering a particular level of service that other delivery companies don’t.
We offer customers specific timed delivery slots and because of this, it can mean I am in different areas of my route at different times of the day, every, single, day.
Everyone morning I will have a certain amount of parcels that have to be in certain areas of my route at specific times of the day. Either because the person ordering has requested it or because the company sending it has requested it.
So obviously when I am routeing my parcels, it is the most efficient way that when I’m in an area for a specific time slot, that I deliver other parcels in that area around that time too.
Which also means that I can’t have a set route every day and make sure a certain amount of parcels are with customers before they go to work or go off on the school run etc.
This has it’s downside and also it’s upsides, but it all means that I have to know my route very well to work out how I’m going to get all my parcels delivered successfully within a decent time frame. E.g less than 12hrs as I really don’t want to be working 12hrs every day if I can help it.
I mean, if I was happy doing 14hr days, I have no doubt I could deliver every single parcel I have, every single day of the week because I’d be delivering later in the day, when most people would be home.
Once I’ve routed all my parcels for the day, I then number each parcel. Not all drivers do this, but I do as I feel it makes my day easier.
Some drivers can put all their parcels on their van and go off and deliver them, no issues finding a parcel in the back at all. Some don’t number them and put them on their vans and have issues finding a parcel whilst out on the road.
Me, I number my parcels and I put them on my van in an order that makes it easy to find once I’m out on the road.
Anything I can do to minimise any delays whilst out delivering, I’ll do it!
Once all the parcels have been numbered and loaded on to my van, I’m ready to hit the road.
For me, this is normally anywhere between 9-9:30 am. And it is that specific.
If I’m not out of the depot before 9:30 am, then firstly something has gone wrong in the depo to delay me and most likely other drivers, but also it means that I’m going to be out delivering until gone 7pm, which isn’t great.
It is fine from a customer point of view, as generally after 5:30pm, a lot of people are home and that means I can get a successful parcel delivery, but for me anything after 5:30pm means I’m into a 10.5hr day and that’s just shit!
Don’t get me wrong. If I was to do 12hr days every day, the job would still be paying very good money. But if I can keep each day to around 10.5hrs, then it becomes really very good money and I’m even more happier!
So I leave the depo around 9:30 am and for the next 7-8hrs I’m out delivering parcels.
This is the easiest but also hardest part of the day.
Driving around, listening to music, seeing the world. Delivering parcels to people who are generally happy to receive them, is fucking awesome.
And I’m not understating that. People are generally pretty happy to receive a parcel from you and unless you’re a psycho or a complete wanker, you’ll be happy delivering the parcel to them too.
If you don’t derive some kind of happiness from delivering a parcel, you’re in the wrong job, simple.
Driving around on your own. It’s a lonely job sometimes and this is something some people don’t cope very well with.
I’m led to believe that humans are a social animal (I’m not and love time alone!) and this is at odds with most delivery driving jobs.
Sure, out on the road, especially in the UK, you’re surrounded by other cars and people, but it still feels lonely at times.
Especially with the particular company I work for.
Due to the time slots we offer to customers for delivery of their parcels, you are constantly watching the clock.
If you stop and talk to someone, that is time you could be spending driving to and delivering another parcel.
Yes, it literally is that time sensitive.
Once I leave the depo every single customer who has a parcel being delivered that day receives a notification of some kind that I have a parcel for them.
Most importantly, they receive in that notification a time slot of when I will be delivering.
Not so much…
When you get stuck in traffic. Have issues finding a parking space in a packed town centre, or narrow village road with impatient traffic behind you or in front of you.
Or you have an overly chatty customer you’ve just delivered to, who wants to tell you about the funny lump on Tiddles the cats fucking leg!
Or a parcel with a weird address on that you didn’t sort out before leaving the depot.
All these things add up throughout the day and I cannot overstate how much I am clock watching. Every. Single. Minute.
That does make it sound pretty stressful. And I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t.
But if you’re the right person, then you find a way of coping with it and making it not stressful, but enjoyable.
If you don’t have the attitude of wanting to do the job, then it will become stressful.
But if you hit everything head on, attack any issues calmly and promptly, then the day runs fine and you shouldn’t get stressed.
And with that, I’ll stop for part 1. Man I can’t believe how much I’ve warbled on pmsl, oh well, it’s been interesting writing all this.
If you want to read part 2, the link is at the bottom below.
Until next time…
An Exciting Well Paid Day in the Life of a 3.5 Tonne Parcel Delivery Driver – Part 2