My heart goes out to delivery drivers. With the popularity of online shopping hitting new heights every year, their jobs get harder and harder as they bust their butts to ensure quick delivery of every package, working long hours for often dismal wages. I especially feel for the ones with rural routes. I live with one and know what he goes through to deliver hundreds of packages a day. I can’t speak for all delivery drivers or companies, but here’s a sample of what the one I live with gets to deal with:
- Terrible roads. Rural. Muddy. Icy. Pock-marked with potholes. Slow-going. Enough said.
- Unsafe vehicles. Two-wheel drive, bald tires, shoddy brakes. Only having the bare minimum of service done and every vehicle is on its last leg…er…wheel.
- Retailers who ship in multiple unnecessary shipments, causing drivers to visit the same house repeatedly. I’m looking at you, Wal-Mart. If customers live in the toolies, this can be frustrating as well as costly. The best remedy for this, of course, is for us all to shop locally or from artists and small business owners. These folks are more conscientious of shipping costs and package everything into as few shipments as possible. And, plus, supporting local shops and artists is way cooler.
- Customers who order things that must be signed for directly (e.g. wine, goat semen) and then who are not home to sign. This is especially frustrating when the customer lives in the boondocks and the driver has to return, traipsing over hill and dell every day until that goat semen can be delivered.
- Customers who do not have their houses or roads marked clearly. Believe it or not, many drivers do not possess clairvoyance, crystal balls, or GPS. The drivers must use good old-fashioned maps and eyeballs.
- Customers who don’t use the correct address – and then get pissy because the driver couldn’t find them. Which brings me to…
- Customers who are abusive, encouraging their kids to throw rocks at the drivers or, worse, pulling weapons on them (yep, true story).
- Customers who get angry at the Fed Ex driver because he didn’t bring something that’s coming via UPS (or vice versa). File this one under “C” for Clueless Customer.
- Companies that pay dismal wages (less than $10 an hour most weeks) and no benefits. Add to this zero vacation for a year (and none at all in November & December – drivers for some companies will forfeit their entire holiday bonus if they miss even one day between Thanksgiving and Christmas).
- Working 12-14 hour days with no lunches or breaks. Oh, sure, they could take lunches or breaks, but then they’d have to work a 13-15 hour day instead.
- Companies that blame the drivers for things beyond their control (e.g. customer complaints, whether substantiated or not) and then subsequently dock the employee several hundred dollars from already dismal compensation package. No exceptions.
- No, or untrained, backup help during the holidays.
There are many occupations in which employees that are overworked, overtired, underappreciated, underpaid, abused, and sent to work in unsafe conditions are the norm. I’m looking at you, nurses, but also many others. At least in my experience, delivery drivers fall into this category and, while they may have signed up for it – and continue to do it – many do because they cannot find anything better or just don’t have time to look for something else. The driver I know comes home after a 12-14 hour day and promptly crashes into an exhausted heap of sore muscles and grumpy growls – understandable, but not the ideal expression for getting out of the job and into something better.
So, the next time you see a delivery driver, give ‘em a smile. They’re up against some hairy obstacles and can use all the props and kudos we can send their way. And from me, thank you, delivery drivers. You are the heroes of the holiday season.