I have been asked to share my experience as an Uber Eats driver during the COVID-19 pandemic—how it has affected me as part of the LGBTQ community.
First off, I’m not a writer; I’m a more visual person. I do photography, so bear with me. Normally my profession is working as a licensed massage therapist (LMT), which is a serious “no go” right now. There is no way to “socially distance” yourself when you must touch soft tissue to perform your job. However, I had signed up to be an Uber Eats driver to make some extra money even before all this went south.
I will tell you about Sunday. Sunday I was ready to hit the road around 11:30 am. I have learned Sundays are very busy, especially if the weather isn’t the best. The car is fueled up, app open, and I’m ready to hit the first bing I get. I started off close to my home in the Acworth/Kennesaw area and by the end of the day, 18 trips later, I was in Midtown.
You notice things when you’re driving, like a lack of people around, fewer vehicles on the road, shopping centers deserted, places of worship devoid of cars. Things like that. Mostly people are hungry and sick of their own cooking. Sunday was a little different for me. It’s almost surreal out there, like getting stuck in a bad Lifetime channel movie—you’re waiting for the zombies to attack your car or something along those lines.
Somehow I ended up down on Camp Creek in Atlanta. This customer wrote a screaming message about wanting extra seasoning with her delivery. I’m thinking, “oh hell,” and I have to deliver it to her door instead of doing the standard “ding dong ditch” that is so popular in the COVID-19 era. I’m mentally preparing myself to get bitched out by this customer.
I take a deep breath and ring the doorbell. The woman who opens the door has on Grady Memorial scrubs. I asked if she is a nurse. She is—part of the COVID-19 response test team at Grady. She wanted a bit of food before her long shift. I thanked her for what she does, knowing it’s a calling, especially in a time like this. She responds with a thank you and “it’s what I do, it’s what I do.” I left with a smile on my face, knowing I had made this nurse’s day a little more bearable with some comfort food.
With this job, you get to drive around in areas you don’t normally go to. See things you didn’t know were there. It’s a great way to learn a new area.
Another customer was waiting outside for me to get her food—again, not a norm in the current pandemic. You would have thought I brought this woman a million dollars, she was so kind and grateful to see me.
Some of the restaurants I stop at for pickups are overwhelmed and not sure how to handle this new business model. Others have stepped up their customer-service levels. Sometimes other delivery drivers are there also waiting on orders. I’m constantly getting comments on my fancy Uber Eats delivery bag. It’s a big, colorful backpack, insulated to keep the food either hot or cold. Most drivers don’t have these. Several drivers, as well as customers, have tried to buy it from me. It’s important to have this item, since at times you’re delivering 15–20 minutes, sometimes even 45 minutes away from the pickup spot. Nobody likes cold food or melted ice cream. Maintaining the preferred temperature is just part of the customer service I provide.
“Two seven four nine.” I remember this street number, because at this address I was talking to a really cute dog in the window. The people inside had no clue why I was there and what I had in my bag. After several minutes a man from next door shouted at me that I had his delivery. He apparently didn’t know his own address: it was 2755. After telling him he had entered 2749, he said “it’s a good thing I came out here.” No, Dumbass, I would have called you on my app (thinking to myseIf).
I walked over, opened the top of my bag, and took several steps back so he can grab his food contact-free. He told me to “Have a blessed day,” which is Southern for “no tip.”
My last delivery was to a fancy high rise apartment building in Midtown. It was around 7pm; the weather was starting to turn to rain, it was cloudy and getting dark. I needed to go to the bathroom. My eyes were tired from looking at my cellphone all day and my ass needed to stretch. I was done. Going home.
I captured this image on Peachtree Street waiting at a light. It hit me hard. The whole day wrapped up in this picture with this caption.
I am grateful.