Spills, crashes and free food: Every reality you face as a Deliveroo rider
Customers who give cash tips are angels too pure for this sinful world
You spot them whizzing about town clad in their hi-vis uniform, delivering GBK and Pizza Express to the masses come rain or shine, but what's it actually like to work as a Deliveroo rider?
Yes, it's as exhausting as it looks, you don't get as much free food as you'd think, and spilling someone's order is a mortifying experience.
Here are all the realities that you face working as a Deliveroo rider, as told by the people who've done it.
Delivering to people you know is usually an underwhelming experience
Sometimes this can be fun and they’ll offer you some of the food you just delivered, but normally it’s pretty underwhelming. I once delivered to someone on my course and as I handed them the food, I said “It’s me, Tom.” She replied “I know” and shut the door.
Falling off your bike is a rite of passage
When this happens you will die a bit inside. Falling off your bike in the middle of town on a drizzly Saturday night is only made better by the crowd of drunken stag dos chanting “she fell over”.
Your housemates quickly grew tired of you boasting about how much money you can make
Your claims of “last night I earned £18.57 per hour!” fall on deaf ears and despite your insistence that it’s the best paying job a student can possibly have, your friends will never sign up in order for you to collect that sweet referral fee.
There is a special place in hell reserved for people who order milkshakes
The customer is surely aware you will be delivering their order by bicycle, and they decide to make this an even more difficult task by ordering a milkshake. Have you ever tried carrying a cold milkshake on your back, packed in tightly amongst piping hot food? The threat of any sort of spillage keeps Deliveroo riders up at night, but the thought of a dairy spillage will bring a rider close to tears.
Repeating the same standard line when you inevitably do spill a customer's food
“Sorry, call Deliveroo customer support” is a line riders live and die by. Speaking of spillages, Miso soup from Yo Sushi and ramen from Wagamamas, I’m looking at you.
Drunk people are fascinated by you
Working a Friday or Saturday night means lots of interaction with drunk people staggering around town. Without fail, nine times out of ten they shout “Deliveroooooo!!!” at you. Yes, thank you for reminding me. I had forgotten I was a Deliveroo rider despite the hi-vis green and silver jacket and the £24 worth of Bella Italia strapped to my back.
Please, please, stop asking me for free food
You’ve stopped at traffic lights, a group of kids will be walking past and like a moth to a flame they’ll approach you. “Give us some free food mate.” I would love to, I really would, but you understand how Deliveroo works right? People pay money to get me to bring them food? I’m not just cycling around handing out freebies, obviously.
But when you do get free food it's the best thing ever
This doesn’t actually happen as often as people think, but when it does happen it’s an absolute godsend. A cheeky bacon double-cheeseburger from Byron going spare? Yes please.
Customers who give cash tips are angels too pure for this sinful world
It’s pouring down with rain, bitterly cold, and I’ve already cycled 20 miles tonight. I hand over your Katsu curry, you see my gaze linger for a second too long on your food. I’m tired, starving and ready to go home. You dig into your pocket, pull out a fiver and place it in my freezing cold hands. You’ve made my night, thank you order no. 3764, whatever your real name is, thank you.
You can tell restaurant chefs kind of despise you
The kitchen hasn’t gotten any bigger since they started doing Deliveroo, but their number of orders have doubled. Go figure.
You're basically being paid to exercise, which you will never stop banging on about
You’ll tell anyone who will listen “It’s so great, I get paid to get fitter!” and you will never get tired of telling anyone who will listen. Ever.
As much as you hate that one monster of a hill in your town, your legs will thank you for it
If you're the type of person who likes to look good, being a Deliveroo rider will sort your physique right out, especially your legs. Every time an order pops up and the route is over the one massive hill on the way out of town, you'll immediately hate the customer, but your perfectly sculpted calves will thank you for it later.
Whatever you do, please don't order dough balls from Pizza Express as they will probably not survive the journey
Once upon a time, someone had the worst idea in packaging history and decided to sell it to Pizza Express. The length of a pizza box and the width of a single dough ball, these flimsy cardboard trays always flip open, leaving you scrambling about for the starter, which are the perfect shape to just roll away. Plus when you arrive, either the dough balls will be frozen cold, or the butter will be a hot, steaming mess.
What did we ever do to offend taxi drivers?
Every rider has had at least one run-in with a taxi driver. I don’t know what we ever did to offend them, but they don’t want us on the roads. We’re just trying to earn money the same as you. Let’s put aside our differences, maybe we could try and get you some free food if you tow us along for a bit?
You don’t need to listen to music with a soundtrack of car horns constantly following you
Just go arou…GO AROUND ME. INDICATE. AND GO. AROUND.
Rain is a blessing and a curse
Yes, it’s miserable, you’re more likely to fall off and you’re going to get soaked. On the other hand, this means the weak will stay at home, leaving you with back-to-back deliveries. Tips seem to go up too, and if you’re lucky Deliveroo might even put on a bonus rate.
Double orders are the holy grail for any Deliveroo rider
As riders, we are all actually just on a never-ending quest to get the holy grail of a double order: two deliveries along the same road, which earns you an extra delivery fee for minimal effort.
Not so fun is when the second order is actually on the other side of the city, or when the food won’t all fit in your box, so you’re forced to awkwardly balance the thermal bag on your narrow handlebars.
Learning to tie up takeaway carrier bags is a life-changing moment
You dread orders from restaurants where the food is carried in a flimsy metal tray, cardboard top, and thin plastic carrier bag. You can feel it sliding around in your box and you're praying when you arrive at their door they won’t have to eat it straight out of your bag.
Then, you’re waiting alongside another rider one evening, and just as you go to leave they stop you. “Aren’t you going to tie that bag up?” they ask. “It stops it all sliding around.” You’re confused, but take their advice. Amazingly, this works and stops 90 per cent of spillages. Your life is changed forever.
The mad rush on Monday to book EVERY single shift as soon as they become available
Unless your hours are released at 5pm. Then you’re lucky if you book anything.
Finding the perfect hideaway in town for when you have no orders
Every rider has their own place to sit when it’s quiet, convinced it's perfectly equidistant from every restaurant in town. Normally a bench in some sheltered location, you might be joined by a trickle of other riders, smokers and homeless people.
Or, if you’re lucky enough to have a park, you just wait there.
Remember when everyone figured out you didn’t have to wear the uniform?
Rebels wear all black.
There’s that one awkward restaurant with nowhere convenient for you to wait
Most restaurants have a little space cleared for you to wait, out of the way where you can enjoy the warmth, while the order is being cooked.
However, some of the smaller restaurants don’t have this luxury, so you are forced to linger right by the till or kitchen, in the way of both customers and staff.
It's even more awkward when you have to traipse across the restaurant and interrupt everyone eating their dinner
Soaking wet, you brush past everyone trying to enjoy their evening. Flicks of rain hit the back of their necks. Your coat rustles against the coats on the back of their chairs. Everyone turns round to stare at you in your helmet and fluorescent jacket and no-one looks good wearing the kit. You’re just trying to do your job but you have ruined their special night with your awkward bumbling.
That awkward moment when another rider is already in the restaurant and you both just stand there not chatting
Silence follows the obligatory question of "How busy have you been?" Once in a blue moon you'll compare each others orders and tips if you’re feeling particularly talkative.
Answering questions from the general public
You’ll be sat at traffic lights and a civilian cyclist will pull up and say: “So, how much does that pay then?” Other common interactions include directing people to the train station, explaining how cycling actually keeps you warm, and detailing the intricacies of your payment structure and the UK tax system.
Perfecting the art of the "shower beer"
Shifts will often end just as all your housemates are getting ready to go out. This means pegging it back to your house quicker than you’ve cycled all night, wolfing down some dinner, and then jumping in the shower with a tinnie, trying desperately to catch up before the taxi arrives.