The Delivery Chronicles, part 4: It’s Snowing, GOD SAVE US!!!

Car-Crash-photo

Alright, this one is not going to be my usual long-winded missive, because really, what else can be said about the snow?  It’s terribly inconvenient and it either slows us all down or, if severe enough, stops us dead in our tracks.  I live in the Northeast US, and we’ve been in a cycle of one to two storms a week since Christmas.  Most of these have only yielded a few inches at a time, but we’ve had a couple that left us with around a foot of snow.  This has caused all sorts of complaining and moaning on my own Facebook page and I am sure, all of yours as well.  But I am not writing to lament the fortunes of Winter or act as if it shouldn’t be snowing in February in Pennsylvania.  There are many places that get hammered far worse, just try living on the Eastern side of a Great Lake.  No, this is about the job of food delivery, because nothing spikes a demand for our service like inclement weather- especially snow and ice.

Let’s face it.  Nobody wants to travel in that mess unless they absolutely have to.  I drive for a living and I don’t like it.  It’s dangerous.  I pride myself in being a great Winter driver and my little front-wheel drive compact is very good in the snow, but there are always other drivers who are not so keyed in.  They are the ones who think a 4WD SUV makes them impervious to the effects of snow and ice who don’t take into account increased stopping distances and losing traction on curves.  How about the absolute ninnies driving rear-wheel drive sports cars?  The worst thing you can drive in the snow is a Mustang or Camaro, but I see no shortage of them on the road when God decides to shake off the ol’ dandruff.  Call a friend and get a ride, already.  In addition to the bad road conditions, good-snow-driver-me has to also be on the lookout for people who don’t know how to drive in the snow, and hope they aren’t sliding into my lane heading right for me.

Not all of delivery is driving- after I get to a customer’s house I then have to park.  In suburban and rural areas, it’s common for us to encounter unplowed driveways or houses on hills where even a plowed driveway can present us with issues such as black ice or snow pack, or decreased visibility due to walls of snow on either side of the entrance.  In town, street parking becomes extremely tight and you can’t really find a place to park.  Your options are, double park and block the road or try for a spot that wasn’t shoveled out and hope you don’t get stuck.  Many drivers choose the latter, I do not.  It may annoy people but I don’t want to spend a half hour trying to free my vehicle.

Then we have to get the food from the car to the customer’s door, which, during regular weather conditions is usually only compounded by vague directions, no listed apartment number, and the customer who doesn’t turn on their light or have visible numbers on their house or mailbox.  When streets and sidewalks are covered in ice, getting the food to the door can be tricky indeed.  Maybe the customer did shovel their walkway and steps, and threw down some rock salt, but not the neighbor whose sidewalk is between my car and the customer’s house.  Snow will bury any holes and shifting cracks in sidewalks.  Ever roll your ankle on one of those?  I have.  Not fun.  Even less fun when doing so and then tipping into a snow bank carrying two pizzas and a couple dozen wings.   When we finally get to the door, most customers are understanding and gracious enough to understand why it took a little longer to arrive- increased demand and conditions that required us to be slower and more cautious.  Many of them tend to tip a little more too- not all of them, but some, definitely.

At some point, though, the need to keep drivers safe is more important than making a profit.  Trust me, I don’t like having to call it a night myself, but sometimes, Old Man Winter wins the day.  I am lucky enough to work at a store that trusts the judgment of the drivers as to when to shut it down.  There comes a point where it’s not worth risking damage to my car or person, and that’s when I say, OK, I’m done.  Sadly, many stores, most of them chain stores, do not.  That means that the driver is being forced to drive in dangerous conditions on threat of losing their job.  Their cars and even their lives aren’t even considered.

So what does this all mean, and why am I yammering on about this?  Because it’s what I do.  It’s a necessary part of my profession.  While it’s not as essential as emergency services or public transportation, it does fill a demand that arises when people either can’t or decide they don’t want to leave the house to pick up food in this kind of weather.  I just want people to know what we endure just to bring out food, why it may take a little longer, and to please be patient and appreciative when we do get there.  After all, if going out to pick up food something that most people are not willing to do because of adverse weather conditions, just remember it isn’t any easier for me to get it to them.

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