A LOT of us are guilty of going a little overboard with online shopping – when your purchases are delivered right to your door, why wouldn't you?
It's so easy and convenient after all, and essential if we are working from home, or home with kids.
But have you ever thought about what it must be like to be the delivery driver ferrying the parcels from A to B?
Here, recently 'retired' Mike Simpson, 31, lifts the lid on what being a delivery driver is really like – and what he really thinks when you answer the door in your PJs in the middle of the afternoon…
'I was stressed before I even delivered a parcel'
They say dealing with customers is one of the worst parts of a job, but for delivery drivers the stress begins before they set foot in the van – as they have to tackle a giant, less exciting version of parcel Jenga.
Mike says: “Weirdly one of the most stressful parts of the job was before I had even delivered a parcel.
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"Getting the van filled with all the parcels in the correct order was an absolute nightmare as although they are a company based on logistics, they are ironically one of the least organised companies I’ve ever worked for.
"It would sometimes take hours just to get all the parcels on the van as often everyone’s parcels were just mixed together in piles."
Dressing gown decorum
We’ve all been there, and answered the door to the postman wearing pyjamas or joggers looking like we’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards.
But it may make you feel less embarrassed to know that delivery drivers are guaranteed to have seen a lot worse.
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Mike says: “It blew my mind how many people just never seemed to wear normal clothes.
“There were a lot of properties that I would deliver parcels to almost everyday, and they would always seem to be in their dressing gown – regardless of what time it was.”
Parcel puzzle solved
Ever come home to find a parcel ‘hidden’ by your bin, chucked over the fence or left in a bizarre place, and wondered what was going through your delivery driver’s mind?
Well, apparently there’s a couple of reasons why this happens.
Mike says: “Parcels sometimes get left in risky places for a couple reasons.
“Firstly, some drivers get a bonus for every parcel they deliver after a certain set amount.
“If they have to take the parcel back to the depot after they’ve spent all that time getting to the property, they won’t get paid for it and will also have to try and redeliver it again the next day.
“The process of leaving a card and taking it back to the depot also takes more time out your allotted time window, so it is often the better option to leave it in a hopefully ‘safe place’ as if you don’t deliver enough parcels you don’t get the bonus.”
Additionally, some drivers claim they're on really tight time limits – and even if it's not their fault and they're stuck in traffic for example, they could even be fired if they don't hit their targets.
Mike adds: "Each delivery gets a one-hour window you must deliver the parcel in.
"Because of this it's hard to avoid driving like a madman just to ensure you actually get paid for all the hard work you’re putting in so that you don’t ‘fail’ the delivery.
"My routes were fairly rural so I didn’t get many drops with multiple packages but the lads that worked in the town centres would sometimes get over 20 parcels all weighing 30kg each for a single delivery.
“That was meant to be an absolute nightmare as you would only get the same amount of time for this drop as you would for a single parcel.
“Also trying to find places to park on a busy town street was very frustrating especially on the one way systems.”
Beware of the dog (poo)
They say our canine pals are man’s best friend, but if you’re a delivery driver, it could go either way if you have a pooch living at the house you’re trying to post a parcel to.
Mike says: “Dogs were often some of the highlights of my day and I never really had any bad run ins with dogs but some of my colleagues have been bitten multiple times when the owner had no control.
“I heard a story recently in which a dog went for one of the lads as he was delivering but it got the parcel instead and then destroyed it in front of the customer.
“Some properties with dogs would have the extra challenge of dodging huge piles of dog s*** everywhere too.
“An absolute nightmare if you lost the challenge and it ended up back in the van on the bottom of your shoe.”
If you answer the door to a grumpy or antsy looking driver, there may be a very good reason. Working up to 14 hour days, Mike says: “There was never any time for a break.
“No one took any breaks throughout the entire day because the days were already so long you didn’t want to do anything to make it any longer.
“You would have to eat whilst driving and hope you could find some bushes at the side of the road if you needed a wee.
“You don’t get many options to find a public toilet since you are working against the time limit of your delivery, so I’m told a few people have been ‘caught short’ before, and it has been known for workers to use a bottle to pee in the back of the van."
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Covered in mud
Spare a thought for your delivery driver when it rains, too.
Mike adds: "This was guaranteed to make your day so much harder as you would spend the day cold and wet.
“If it was a property I hadn't been to before it was often far harder to find the correct address in the rain and as I would deliver to lots of farms you would end up covered in mud almost instantly.
“On top of that as nearly all the parcels are cardboard boxes they would disintegrate whilst packing the van so they were a soggy mushy box by the time they got delivered.”
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