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“I toss my gear in the dryer when I get home, hoping to kill anything on it”: Toronto’s food couriers on how the last week has been

By Giordano Ciampini| Photography by Giordano Ciampini

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Toronto restaurants and food shops offering takeout and delivery during the coronavirus pandemic
Food & Drink

Toronto restaurants and food shops offering takeout and delivery during the coronavirus pandemic

While the city’s restaurants were ordered to shut down last week, they can still sell food for takeout and delivery—and with so many people self-isolating (and eating their feelings), you can bet that Toronto’s fleet of food couriers are getting a good workout. We spoke with some Uber Eats, Foodora and Skip the Dishes drivers and cyclists about how the last week has been.

"I toss my gear in the dryer when I get home, hoping to kill anything on it": Toronto's food couriers on how the last week has been
Ayush Sharma
Ayush Sharma

22, Uber Eats and Foodora

How has work been over the last week? I work part time in between classes, but for the last two months or so I’ve been working 20 hours a week. Over the last week there’s been a lot of volume. Uber Eats has what’s called a “multiplier,” which means we get paid a bit more in the winter when the weather is bad, but also if we have to travel to certain regions—and the downtown core is like a perpetual $2 boost.

What have people been ordering? Fast food places are still going strong, and they’re the most experienced when it comes to pumping out a bunch of orders.

What’s it like when you drop off the food? Are people keeping their distance? I’ve hardly seen anyone take advantage of the “leave the food at the door” option. I wish more people would use it so we can avoid contact.

Are you worried about getting sick? I’m not worried about catching the virus, but I am worried about being an asymptomatic carrier and spreading it, making it worse than it already is. I wish Uber Eats would provide testing for all its drivers, but that doesn’t seem very realistic.

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"I toss my gear in the dryer when I get home, hoping to kill anything on it": Toronto's food couriers on how the last week has been
Ali Abdulrahman
Ali Abdulrahman

30, Uber Eats

How has work been over the last week? There’s a lot of demand now because people are staying home.

What have people been ordering? Lots of different kinds of food, but Thai seems to be most popular for me right now.

Have the tips been better? I’ve been getting better tips. People downtown tip more—other places, not so much.

Are you worried about getting sick? I’m worried, of course, but I’m doing my best. I’m keeping my distance—I put orders by the doors so I don’t have contact.

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"I toss my gear in the dryer when I get home, hoping to kill anything on it": Toronto's food couriers on how the last week has been
Alex P.
Alex P.

28, Uber Eats

How has work been over the last week? Uber is paying a little bit more because of the increased demand.

What’s it like when you drop off the food? Are people keeping their distance? Most of my customers are asking me to drop their orders at the door, which is what they should be doing. People are keeping their distance—the tips are still pretty much the same though.

Are you worried about getting sick? At the end of the day you have to protect your health, but you also have to pay your bills and feed your family.

"I toss my gear in the dryer when I get home, hoping to kill anything on it": Toronto's food couriers on how the last week has been
Andrew M.
Andrew M.

28, Uber Eats, Foodora and Skip the Dishes

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How has work been over the last week? I’ve noticed the volume has gone up a bit, which is good for us, but there’s a lot of risk, too. I was talking with some friends and we’re all just waiting for Trudeau’s money to kick in so we can all stay home and flatten the curve. I don’t know about the other delivery companies, but Uber Eats is offering us 14 days of compensation if we need to quarantine.

What’s it like when you drop off the food? Are people keeping their distance? People have been treating me differently, but not in a disrespectful way. Uber Eats and other delivery services have made the option for customers to ask that we leave orders at their doors—and we’re able to do that even if they don’t ask. I think about about 20 per cent of my customers ask me to leave their orders outside.

Are you worried about getting sick? I wear gloves and my little cloth mask, but at the moment I’m just trying to save as much money as I can. It’s an uncertain time, but we all still gotta eat and pay rent.

"I toss my gear in the dryer when I get home, hoping to kill anything on it": Toronto's food couriers on how the last week has been
Gabriel Gomez
Gabriel Gomez

37, Uber Eats

What’s it like when you drop off the food? Are people keeping their distance? Some people are keeping their distance and asking me to drop their food at the door. For me, that’s better.

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"I toss my gear in the dryer when I get home, hoping to kill anything on it": Toronto's food couriers on how the last week has been
Amandeep Singh
Amandeep Singh

26, Uber Eats

How has work been over the last week? People are definitely ordering more.

What’s it like when you drop off the food? Are people keeping their distance? People have been telling me to drop their food outside the house now, which is okay, everybody has to be safe.

Are you worried about getting sick? I usually wear a mask when I’m working, for precaution.

"I toss my gear in the dryer when I get home, hoping to kill anything on it": Toronto's food couriers on how the last week has been
Surya Singh
Surya Singh

21, Uber Eats

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How has work been over the last week? I think we are getting more deliveries because there are fewer couriers right now. I’m making good money right now.

What’s it like when you drop off the food? Are people keeping their distance? People are keeping their distance, usually asking me to leave the food at the door.

Are you worried about getting sick? I’m worried, but I take precautions. I maintain distance and keep washing my hands.

"I toss my gear in the dryer when I get home, hoping to kill anything on it": Toronto's food couriers on how the last week has been
Vlad Grouza
Vlad Grouza

29, Uber Eats and Foodora

How has work been over the last week? It’s about the same volume as when the weather is bad, because people don’t want to go outside. It’s pretty well business as usual—it’s nice that the roads are clear.

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What’s it like when you drop off the food? Are people keeping their distance? It’s been a mixed bag—some people are skittish, others are more appreciative and tipping better. I text when I get there, drop the food at the door and then I split.

Have the tips been better? I’d say there’s been a slight increase in tippage.

Are you worried about getting sick? I do my best to not touch doorhandles or elevator buttons. I’ve been tossing my gear into the dryer for a half hour when I get home, hoping to kill anything on it. I have roommates, so it’s kind of a concern for them. Like, “Hey we’re trying to self-isolate, then in comes our bike courier roommate who touched basically everything in the city.”

"I toss my gear in the dryer when I get home, hoping to kill anything on it": Toronto's food couriers on how the last week has been
Kevin Oko
Kevin Oko

25, Uber Eats

How has work been over the last week? Deliveries have gone up, it’s just constant now.

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What’s it like when you drop off the food? Are people keeping their distance? People are treating us differently when we show up. They want us to leave the food at the door so they can avoid contact, but they’re just being cautious.

Have the tips been better? As far as tipping goes, they tip if you ask them to—so I just ask.

Are you worried about getting sick? I’m not exactly concerned with catching Covid-19—I think it’s all a bit exaggerated. I’m also from Africa, so I’ve seen worse diseases and I think my immune system is built up. I’m still young, so I don’t think I’ll get hurt, but I’m still taking some precautions. I just keep my distance, wash my hands and wear gloves.

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