March 21, 2020

Food Couriering Amid Coronavirus

Topics: General

Spring is in the air. So is the Coronavirus. Cases are on the rise in the US, as many cities lock-down and issue ‘stay-at-home’ mandates. Public places are closed and most restaurants only offer take-out. Grocery stores are being emptied out as quickly as they can stock their shelves. Most people are working from home, or on a ‘forced vacation’. We’re entering a recession in a time where many people can’t work.

One business that has actually benefited from the outbreak is the food delivery industry. I’ve been doing food deliveries since December of last year as a way to make ends meet. Last night was the first time I did UberEats in a week. I had just serviced my car, cleaned it inside and out, and gotten proper food delivery bags instead of just relying on the free DoorDash bag I got in the mail. I dawned gloves and turned on the app around 7pm last evening. Immediately, I saw there was a huge surge in the greater downtown area.

UberEats surge prices were in full effect last night

On a normal Friday, you can’t get a parking spot in DTSP (downtown St Pete). That night, the city was dead. Other than people picking up takeout and couriers, there was almost no one walking the sidewalks. Homeless wandered the empty streets.

Deliveries were coming in steadily for big orders. Every place I delivered from was closed to the public. They either gave you food at the takeout window or had tables setup for food delivery services as pictured below at a Tijuana Flats.

A Tijuna Flats had deliveries organized by labeled tables

While most people had me hand-off the food at the door, a few opted to have me leave the food. Most people were very happy to see me last night, and tipped generously. I felt like I was offering an important service to them. I know I’m taking a risk delivering food, but many of these people are relying on couriers right now to feed their families, and I’m relying on the money to afford rent and food.

I’m hopeful we’re doing enough to ‘flatten the curve’ and that the virus will peak sooner than later. In the meantime, I’ll be out there at night delivering food as long as I can. For posterity, I’ll be documenting my orders each night and sharing stories and photos via my instagram @artbane if people want to follow.

Signing off for now.

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