Google maps, crazy cats, and fluorescent jackets: The diary of a Deliveroo cyclist

If you’re going to make me carry this much stuff, you could at least tip me

It’s Lockdown 3.0, and you’re ordering Deliveroo now more than ever. Maybe during lockdowns one or even two you had grand visions of finally becoming a master chef. This time, who even cares anymore?

With all this Deliveroo ordering, have you ever wondered what it’s like for us who deliver your food? Our blood, sweat, and tears (all of which is accurate if you ever fall off your bike) go into getting you your Ting Thai takeaway. Here’s a look into the life of a Deliveroo cyclist.

Day 1: Keen but clueless

First day! I delightedly set off on my bike with my friends filming my departure like proud parents (probably celebrating the fact they no longer have to hear me pointing out every single Deliveroo driver as “my prospective colleague”).

The uniform had arrived that day: a hi-vis jacket for milder weather and a hi-vis raincoat. Five minutes into the journey, and I was sweating – turns out the uniform is about as breathable as wearing ten bin bags one on top of the other.

My brothers: training the next Deliveroo generation!

After the first order, I encountered an issue: I have literally no sense of direction. How on earth was I going to navigate my way around? I get disorientated leaving Lidl and have more than once confidently set off in the wrong direction before smoothly doing a U-turn halfway down the street. “Delivery time should be within 0-4 mins” flashed up on my phone. I hope this same message hasn’t just gone to my customer because, boy, will they be disappointed.

I mounted the bike and unsteadily proceeded down the path, squinting at my unmoving dot and mowing down several pedestrians in the process. After several minutes I realised this was a no-go, and my poor expectant customer is simply never going to get their order if I don’t come up with an alternative plan of action. Google Maps, here I come!

Day 6

Google Maps has used up all my data. No biggie, it’s the end of the month. It’ll be renewed tomorrow. The only issue is I currently have someone’s order and absolutely no clue how to find where they live.

“Excuse me please!” I ask some random man walking down the street. “Do you know where this place is?” I ask, showing him the address. “No, sorry” he replies and continues on his way. “Wait, wait!” I call, smiling ingratiatingly at him “would you mind looking it up for me on your phone?”

Day 7

“Been busy tonight?” a waiter asks me conversationally as I wait for the order. “Not as busy as I’d like to be,” I say casually, when in reality, I have absolutely no idea how to use the app and missed the first order because my hands were too frozen to respond within the 100 second time limit.

Day 8 Trying my hand at getting some tips!

Today I set off and it promptly started pouring. Within minutes I was soaking wet and sincerely regretting my decision to deliver today. I propelled myself forward with uplifting running commentary. I reached the house and at this point, all I wanted was to go home, get changed, and get a tip!

“I hope you enjoy the food and have a great night!” I called desperately through the gap as the door is rapidly shut in my face. No tip. I stood there dripping for a bit, working up the motivation to re-enter the miserable night outside when the door re-opened. I turned that frown upside down and tried again for a tip.

“You’re still here?” my customer asked in surprise. I think she just might be reaching for a tip when she turns to her cat. “Look at what a beauty he is, isn’t he just gorgeous!?” she asked me. I don’t like cats. When it came to purr against my legs, I had to resist the urge to sprint out the door, the inclement weather no longer a problem. “Yes, yes, so cute!” I said, still hoping for a tip. I admired that cat for a good minute at least before she abruptly lost interest and slammed the door again. You guessed it, still no tip.

Day 12

At the beginning, I hadn’t quite got the concept of picking and choosing orders and eagerly accepted whatever came my way. And this is how I ended up cycling thirty-five minutes outside Edinburgh to deliver a single measly burger.

Once I left the city, I was cycling along a coastal path-one side dropping away into the sea and on the other a concrete wall. At this critical moment, just when I needed them the most, my bike lights failed me. Ironically, they had been free from the library to promote cyclists’ safety. Meanwhile, Google Maps kept piping up with route extensions and increasing the time. In the end, I squeezed the bike, the Deliveroo bag and me through a very dense bush to just get off that path.

Was the customer grateful? Not a chance. At this point, I felt like I deserved a medal.

Day 15: Some high customers 

What I feel like doing EVERY time I get to the top of a hill!

I collected an order from Burger King today. I don’t know what was ordered, but the food weighed a ton and the flimsy paper bag it came in was simply not sufficient. Unsurprisingly, the bag ripped. The food was still somewhat contained within the bag, but I would definitely need to come up with an explanation by the time I reached the house.

I staggered up another couple of hills and rang the buzzer to get into the building. No response – not a good start. I proceeded to ring every other buzzer systematically until someone buzzed me in. Mission accomplished! I hyperventilated my way up about a million flights of stairs to reach the flat and knocked on the door. No response.

Next step – call the customer! I called the number and explained that I am outside the flat door.  “Can’t you come up to the flat, it’s really not that hard, basic customer service…” were all things she asked me. Baffled, I explained that I am actually outside the flat and simply need her to open the door. At this point I could hear her on the other side of the door and was so confused. Eventually, I get her to open the door and can see that she’s as high as a kite. That explained it.

I smile at her and pass her the clearly ripped bag. “Be careful with that,” I warn as I hand it over. She apologises to me for her carelessness, but just like that, problem sorted!

Day 22: My bike gets a compliment 

My flatmates: no delivery charge when you live with Deliveroo!

I collected a delivery from Co-op today. It’s my absolute least favourite place to go, ever. People do their weekly shop and spare no thought for poor me struggling away under a week’s worth of alcohol, milk, and a couple of kilograms of flour. What are they doing? Opening a bakery?

As I’m huffing and puffing my way out of the shop, some random man started complimenting my bike. After a while, when he still hasn’t stopped, I have no choice but to mount the bike and start riding away, at which point he rapidly produces a business card. “If you have a puncture, I can repair it for you.” I stare at him. Quite clearly, I don’t have a puncture right now. More importantly, I am cycling around in the pouring rain to earn money so the chances that I am ever going to spend some of that hard earned cash paying someone else to fix a puncture are absolutely zero.

Day 29: Am I a pro yet?

I had locked the bike frame to its wheel whilst I had gone inside the restaurant. I came back and the lock simply would not unlock. Patiently, I jiggled it this way, then that. Then I tried it frantically…equally unsuccessful. After about 10 minutes of failed attempts, I called my brother. To his credit, he tried very hard to help me, squinting through the dark facetime to peer at a lock hundreds of miles away but ultimately, he was of no use. I imagined the long walk home carrying the bike and grimaced.

About a million attempts later, something finally stuck, and I got it. Halfway through my celebration dance I remembered the undelivered order and abruptly stopped and hopped on the bike, planning my excuses as I went.

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