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Seaton: The Delivery Driver Diaries, Part 1

Prefatory note: The following is a series of completely fictional stories I made up out of whole cloth. Just in case you don’t believe that names and places have been changed to protect the innocent from my dumb jokes.

ONE

I wake around ten am. A streak of sunlight momentarily blinds me when I open my eyes. I curse as I roll out of bed.

Today’s my first day on my new gig. GIGS, technically. See what I did there? One doesn’t need to be constrained to the chains of a regular job. This is 2024, baby! Now all you need to earn money is a phone and a car. Welcome to the world of delivery services, you go-getting entrepreneur, you!

Anyway that’s what I tell myself as I sip water from a glass, trying to nurse my bruised ego over losing a very well paying C-suite job for a trucking company. I was cruising along in a mid-level management position when SOMEONE from a higher floor decided to start a kickback scheme for truckers getting gas rebates. That’s when the Feds raided us. I was one of several mid-level managers who were let go in the resulting settlement as a means of showing the truckers the company “meant business about the business of customer service” or some stupid shit like that.

Then two nights ago, as I sat drinking, someone told me about the delivery apps.

“You just open then when you want to make money and they bring you orders to fulfill! You pay for nothing—you’re just picking up and delivering stuff to people. You don’t have to drive people around like with that rideshare stuff. You’re basically alone all day taking orders, making money and listening to your podcasts!”

“I have a phone and a car. I can make money,” I said with a smile before downing two more shots of Fireball that night.

Today I’m ready to make some coin. I open my driver apps. I’m not going to say who I’m working for, but one app looks like those frou-frou reusable grocery bags hippies enjoy and the other one’s every man’s favorite cup size. That should tell you enough. One won’t pay me enough alone but I figure I can be a mercenary and take orders from both as I get them.

Here’s a brief course in how the delivery drivers who bring you shit do their work. First, we drive to what the services call a “hot spot” for orders to come through. Then we wait until an order to fulfill pops into our phones. If we accept it, we go to the store listed, pick the order up and drive it to you. If we don’t—well, then we don’t get paid. That’s why it pays to have a quick trigger finger. But I play video games, so I’m good there.

It’s not easy making money like this when everyone’s doing it. When you live in a college town you’re probably going to butt heads with all the kids who do this stuff for pizza money. But I have two kids, a car payment, a mortgage and a $200/week marijuana habit, so my options are severely limited in what I do.

I fire up a fat joint and accept my first order for the lunch rush. Turning on “Regulate” by Warren G. and Nate Dogg, I pull out into the street. It’s time to rule the roads.

TWO

My Messages tab on the app dings while I’m picking up a lady’s order from a mid-tier chain restaurant everyone thinks is healthy but the food is overpriced and tastes like shit.

“Could you please check my order to make sure everything’s in the bag? I don’t want to sound crazy but that store has a bad habit of leaving stuff out of my bags!” the lady texts.

“Sure, ma’am, be happy to.” I reply.

I spend the next five minutes going over with her everything she ordered, checking to make sure everything is correct and all the items for which she paid are actually present.

“You’re good to go, ma’am. I’ll be at your residence in about ten minutes” is the last text I send.

“You’re the best!” she replies with a heart emoji.

When I drop her order off at her front door, I get a notification she’s added a $5 tip onto the order for my exemplary service. I appreciate that. I really do make it a point to ensure all of my customers get what they paid for.

But she’s not crazy. I order stuff from that same restaurant every week and they have a terrible tendency to stiff people’s orders.

That night I get a “requesting feedback” email from the restaurant. It’s one of those where they want you to fill out a detailed survey of your last experience with them. Since I have this lady’s complaints on my mind, I actually decide to fill it out.

I give them dings on customer service, prep, and bagging. When I’m asked to provide details on the negative rating, I say the following.

You guys have completely lost your way when it comes to quality control. I order from here weekly and I have to ask for parts of my order at least two to three times a month that are missing. I have delivery customers who feel the same way and I’m asked to check bags regularly to make sure everything’s in the order. Get your shit together.

I’m probably setting myself up for dog shit or pubic hair to be in my next order from this place. Despite being a college town, the client base at this restaurant is small so I’m probably risking getting stooged by my own words.

But I’m doing it for customer service. That’s a noble aspiration still, right?

I hit send, take a rip from a bong and turn on “Iron Chef.” Morimoto’s battling some French idiot in Battle Porcini. Should be good.

TO BE CONTINUED (Maybe…)

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