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How a Food Delivery Guy Works During a Pandemic

What happens when your routine job suddenly becomes riskier? A firsthand account.

Trinidad outside his home in Hegewisch   Photo: Provided

Nick Trinidad, 20

Food delivery worker

I do DoorDash, Instacart, and all the other delivery apps — around 25 to 30 hours a week. I live in Hegewisch, but I work mostly downtown and the North Side. I’ve been thinking about working more, but my dad doesn’t want me catching the virus and bringing it home. When I get home, my mom tells me to take off the clothes I wore—my hoodie and all that—and take a shower before I lay down or throw my clothes on a chair like I used to do.

While working, I carry a box of gloves that my dad got me. He’s a captain in the fire department. I also have a face mask in my car. I don’t always wear that. Then I have hand sanitizer, which I use frequently. Besides that, I clean my car often. Sometimes I wear the gloves, sometimes I don’t, but if I don’t, I’m sanitizing my hands before and after the delivery. When I do wear the gloves, I either change them after or I sanitize them and wear them again since there’s a shortage. Touching my face a lot is a bad habit I have, but I’ve been catching myself.

I know I have a higher risk than a lot of people, but for the most part I feel pretty safe, because I’m alone the whole time in my car. The only time I come in contact with people is in the grocery stores for those runs. A lot of the apps have changed to no-contact delivery, so the restaurants leave the orders on a table in their lobby, and when I bring it to a customer’s house I just leave it outside the door or in the lobby of their apartment. There are still some people who would rather take the food from my hand, and that’s when I wear the mask. It doesn’t even faze them.

Almost every grocery order that I get, the customer tries to get some type of cleaning supplies. If they get them, they’re one of the lucky ones, ’cause every store I go to is usually sold out. Besides that, they order a lot of canned foods and frozen pizzas and lasagnas, things that don’t go bad quick. Toilet paper isn’t as bad as it was, but people are still getting freaked out over it, taking as much as they can get. Hand sanitizer is nowhere.

I’ve only had one customer who was rude. I was already shopping for her—I had half of her items—and she texted me cancelling the order, because she found out I couldn’t bring it up to her apartment, and she didn’t want to leave because she was at high risk of getting the virus. Which made it hard on me, because the app on my phone was stuck on that order for like 10 hours.

It’s been busier, and a lot more people are tipping more generously. I know someone who got $80, and he only had to go one mile. I don’t like it when people hand me cash. It happens on occasion, and when it does I like to leave the money out for a while and not touch it.

Right now I depend on this money a lot. I’m using it to try to get me somewhere else, like back to school. I’m only 20, and I’ve done this since I graduated high school. It’s helped me buy my own car, pay my own phone, insurance. I bought a motorcycle. I have had other jobs, but nothing that has paid nowhere near this.

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