BY AMY HILL
Foodies and dining-out enthusiasts have avoided withdrawals over the last few months by having their favorite local restaurant meals delivered straight to their front doors. As a driver for a food delivery service, I have braved the outside world to deliver meals to customers throughout the COVID-19 lockdown and have lived to tell the tale.
On a positive note, the pandemic has made my job busier than ever, which is a blessing given the current state of the economy. What used to be a slow Tuesday night is now as busy as a Friday or Saturday night shift. Unfortunately, the drastic turn from bustling restaurants to radio silence was sobering the first few weeks of lockdown. And while the lack of traffic and customers waiting in the restaurants made my deliveries faster, the novelty of new safety protocols for takeout was initially confusing and inconsistent for everyone.
Thankfully, more people are leaving home to dine out and restaurants are starting to fill up again. In spite of this, food delivery is still more popular than ever. With over a year of experience, I’ve learned the ins and outs of what to expect from customers and restaurants, as well as how to be a better customer when I order delivery for myself.
Tipping Your Driver – Yes, Please!
The great thing about using apps for food delivery is you don’t need cash on hand to leave a tip for your driver. Just select a percentage or enter a custom amount to be charged to your card. Don’t feel pressured to leave a cash tip if you’ve already tipped in the app. While this is a rare occurrence, it is a treat nonetheless.
Problems at Pick-Up – A Sub-Par Substitute?
Drivers frequently run into issues when a menu item the customer ordered is no longer available, or the restaurant has a question about how the food should be prepared. I have contacted many customers to inform them the diner is out of their favorite cookie or side item (which makes me die a little inside each time). Although it’s tempting to order your food and carry on your merry way, keep an eye on your phone in case the driver needs to contact you. You don’t want to end up with a substitute that you don’t like or wouldn’t have chosen.
Utensils & Condiments – Don’t Forget!
Be sure to specify whether you need utensils or extra condiments when you order, especially if your food is being delivered to your workplace. I once delivered a piping hot plate of fajitas with beans and rice to a guy at work, only to discover that he had nothing to eat it with. Lesson learned…. Make your utensil needs known loud and clear before check-out. If you forget, contact the driver before he or she has left the restaurant to request any extras.
First: Help Me Find You!
There is nothing that makes my life as a driver easier than a well-lit porch and a visible house number on a mailbox. To decrease the odds of your driver delivering your food to the wrong house (it happens), your house number should be easy to read from the street, especially on a dark or rainy night. Although your driver should contact you if he is unsure about where to deliver the food, some give up too easily. Don’t worry, though – your customer rating will serve as karma, and you can contact customer support through the app if you need to.
Second: Make It Easy on Me
Another way deliveries can take a nasty turn for drivers is by running into spider webs or getting stung by bees while waiting at your front door. Try to be mindful of what creatures are lurking on your porch, or which garden gnomes your driver may trip over. Also, while I am a cat person, I love dogs, too – just not jumping all over me trying to get the Chipotle I’m holding over my head.
Third: We Deliver Food ONLY
Please, whatever you do, don’t answer the door in a towel (and nothing else). Additionally, texting your driver after the delivery and asking him or her on a date is not usually welcome (unless you’re a six-foot tall doctor who likes Mexican food and can tolerate cats, of course. In that case, feel free to text me).
For the time being, food delivery is a great substitute for a night out. It’s quick, convenient, and allows you to safely support local restaurants during these difficult times. Once it’s safe to throw caution to the wind again, however, please don’t forget about us!