Whenever I see a Deliveroo-er on a bike, order an Uber or see a Chinese being taken to a front door in plastic containers, I nostalgically reminisce about my own time as a delivery driver, way before the advent of the so-called ‘gig economy’.
The pay was bad, the boss a despot, the hours antisocial, and I never even got the deposit back on my uniform when I left.
But it was still the best job I’ve ever had. Mainly because of the sights and shenanigans – from co-workers locking each other in freezers and mimicking WWE with stacks of boxes, to other childish behaviour and more risqué encounters.
Here’s just a few of them…
Relaxing on company time
During a petrol price spike, not only did the owner refuse to increase our allowance for petrol – they even took away the paltry 10p we were given every time we had to make a phone call to a customer. (This was back in the pay as you go days).
This obviously went down like a sack of potato wedges, so some of the drivers began to take liberties with how long it took to complete a journey.
Once a delivery was done friends were given lifts, family BBQs attended and even social occasions organised.
Rather than wait around the store for a delivery to come your way, three of us drivers would simply meet up in a supermarket car park at the top of the city and listen to Swedish metal music, staggering our arrival times back to the store.
As protests go it was hardly the miners’ strike, but it turned out to be more financially viable and enjoyable than spending money we weren’t getting back on deliveries.
Delivering the goods
The bawdy 1970s 'Confessions Of A…' films indulged the British public’s love of some cheeky slap and tickle, and this confession of a delivery man wouldn’t be complete without one or two saucy tales.
Understandably there were a few sights I perhaps shouldn’t have seen as I walked past windows and delivered to houses in less salubrious parts of town.
However, clearly inspired by the pratfalls of Robin Askwith and co, one hotel guest decided that 'conquering' a pizza delivery boy would make a fine tale.
When I delivered to hotels I'd usually just be sent to the room in question.
But on this occasion the porter decided to accompany me to the hungry recipient.
After I knocked on the door I was greeted by a lady in skimpy see-through underwear, alluringly enjoying my frozen expression as I held her 10” pie and chicken strippers.
What she wasn’t expecting was the hotelier to be gawping at her too, and upon seeing him she quickly hid behind the door.
My companion thought the whole episode wonderful, but I was infuriated that the only transaction that took place was money for a late night snack and could only wonder what might have been.
It was always fun to see if any of your friends’ addresses came up on the delivery screen for an opportunity for frivolity.
On my very first shift I delivered to my own house, with my unsuspecting housemates being greeted by a familiar deliveryman… with his trousers around his ankles and two large pizzas covering his unmentionables.
But fun could still be had from the store.
In what must have been an unspeakably dull evening, a mate’s address clocked up four separate deliveries.
On the second visit, the kitchen staff were kind enough to let me write a crude message on the inside of the box and an arrow pointing to a missing slice of pizza.
This was repeated on the third delivery with half a dessert missing, until the fourth order which I took myself to my amused chums who invited me in for a quick game of Tekken.
Customers clearly love the free dips that come with their pizzas.
But do you know what’s actually in them? Calories and fat: that’s about it.
I discovered this to my detriment when a few of the drivers decided to use them as weapons, hurtling open pots at each other’s vehicles when we embarked on a delivery and even when we saw each other out on our travels.
A direct hit on the windscreen would take far more than a Mega Tycoon Wash to shift.
Only the concentrated degreaser we used to clean down at the end of the night would do the trick, and that wasn’t at hand when you opened the petrol cap at the pumps to find rancid dough and fatty dip jammed in there.
This is a less surprising revelation as I'm sure the majority of people in the food service industry have pinched the odd bit of grub on the sly.
With a free pizza each shift and first dibs on unclaimed or incorrect slices, the majority of staff's sizeable bellies were often full.
But when the shop introduced chocolate brownies thievery became endemic.
When it was discovered the brownies were better cold than warmed up and sent to customers, staff simply helped themselves from the chiller, with management only noticing when whole bags seemingly dissapeared despite only a few boxes being ordered…