Firstly, I hope this post finds you well. Strange times indeed, plenty of uncertainty and change.
Along with many others, my business has been affected by the restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. By the letter of the official advice I could still sweep and carry out work in people’s homes by following the set guidelines. However, I (and a vast number of my fellow sweeps), have decided to down tools in order to totally minimise any risk to public health.
Some of you may know that, over the last year, I have been working part time as a Supermarket Delivery Driver. This was generally on weekends and evenings, now with the temporary stop of sweep work, the driving has now pretty much been full time. It’s been a very welcome turn in circumstances and I’m very keen to be out helping the public.
This post is a short summary of how it is to be a Delivery Driver at the current time and a tribute to Drivers and Delivery Teams everywhere who are certainly finding it a busy time. All views are my own and not that of any particular supermarkets.
The Drivers and Delivery Team
I have the pleasure of working with a group of drivers in branch, all from a wide demographic and diverse backgrounds. Some have had (and still have) other careers, and some have had a great deal of experience in the retail market. What is evident though, is a high degree of teamwork and customer focus. There is always someone to lend a hand and support as required.
What may not be seen by the general public is the team of Pickers and Delivery Supervisors who ensure that all the loads are ready to deliver to customers. These are really the unsung champions of the operation. Presently, the picking teams start at 1 a.m and are working at maximum capacity. By the time the Drivers arrive from 7 a.m the loads are ready to go which, considering the current volumes, is a great effort.
Ah, the vans. Primarily built for a long and hard life on the road and not for a comfortable driving experience. Only FM radio available with an aerial that passes through the chiller motor resulting in no reception on AM or Long Wave. Working without Radio 5 is still allowed under the Geneva Convention but was mightily frustrating while working during the Cricket World Cup Final and most of the Rugby World Cup games. When out on the road, Delivery Drivers from all companies will give a cheery wave as they pass each other, it’s a nice tradition.
Finding your way around is relatively straightforward. Our vans have Sat Nav and a function which ‘pins’ the customer location for following deliveries. First deliveries will go to the postcode location which can cause some issues for rural deliveries but only now and again. Customers can leave instructions with the order of how to find the property which is always welcome. Also, customers who have nice clear house name signs get extra kudos.
The Current Situation
There is a lot going on; every van is going out at full capacity and delivery precautions are in force as every customer is self-isolating and/or social distancing. It’s taken a few weeks for both the drivers and customers to get used to it. Distancing is not a very ‘British’ trait, during the first few days, transfer of shopping felt a bit like a hostage exchange with awkward pointing and indicating. Two weeks later, it’s like a F1 pitstop, knock on the door, leave it on the doorstep, exchange of pleasantries from distance (weather, ‘you must be busy?’), back into the van and off to the next address. People are now comfortable with talking to us from the upstairs window, everyone is pleased to see us!
What is clear, is that there are a lot of vulnerable people out there who are helped by our services. With the dramatic increase of online shopping delivery demand, I hope they do not get left without access to future delivery slots. I know the supermarket businesses are working very hard to prevent this. It is also clear, that community support is in force and it is heart-warming to see and read about neighbours, families, towns and villages looking out for those around them.
If you’ve not been out recently, the roads are extremely quiet. he public have been very generous with their support. I get quite a few waves from passers by in the street and more ‘driving favours’ from other motorists than ever before.
Thank you for your support, it means a lot. It’s good to be a part of the delivery effort, if nothing else, it’s nice to get out of the house. Thank you for reading, if you have some spare time over the next few days, maybe time to clean up the house sign?
Stay safe and hope to see you soon!