Now that we are in the heart of winter and dealing with the usual mayhem of New England weather (snow, rain, gale force winds, nor’easters, etc.), we need to take a moment to celebrate an unheralded hero: food delivery drivers.
Through it all, they are willing to brave the elements, guided only by their guile and cell phones, so we can enjoy a delicious meal in the warm coziness of our own homes. Whenever and wherever the call for food rings, they answer.
They dutifully hop into their cars, carefully pack our orders in insulated protection and trudge their way through the savagery of Aquidneck Island roads just to bring us what we ordered.
I, for one, am grateful.
Have you ever looked out the window on a stormy day. You see puddles splashing, trees bending in the wind, leaves and branches tumbling about. That’s when you think to yourself, “There’s no way I’m going out in this weather.” But you know your delivery driver will, and for some reason, we’re OK with that. We feel bad making someone else drive in that weather, but if we’re hungry enough, we can rationalize it.
Delivery has never been an easy gig. People wanting their food fast. Bosses hurrying you to get to the next delivery. There are order mix ups. There are accidents and traffic. There are people who don’t answer the door. And that was before the pandemic.
When the pandemic hit, out of necessity, it suddenly became the golden age of delivery. Restaurants had to find a way to get people their food so they naturally turned to delivery options. Then we all got used to the convenience of it. Now, even though you can eat at the restaurant or pick up your orders, people are still asking for delivery options.
That’s a lot of responsibility to fall upon the delivery drivers. Suddenly, they have to be everywhere. So, because they deserve it, let’s be extra nice to them.
Don’t blame delays on the delivery driver. They’re just doing their route. They have no evil plot to delay your delivery. They’re just busy. If you are using a delivery service like GrubHub or DoorDash, the drivers have to go to the restaurant, wait for your order, grab it and then deliver to your home. They could have extra stops along the way, too.
But you can watch their progress on the phone apps. You can see they’re not dawdling. When your order gets there, just be grateful. And try not to delay the driver, either. They are on a schedule. If you are keeping them at your house so you can unpack every item to inspect for quality, you’re the complication.
Expect that your order will take at least 45 minutes for delivery. We know if you ordered the same thing at the restaurant, you could get it in 10 minutes. But that’s not how this works. If a restaurant is busy, adding a delivery order to the mix is never easy. It’s different plating, different timing, different finishing.
It takes preparation and cooking time before it even lands in a delivery vehicle. Just be patient. There’s one place in town that if you order on the weekend, they give you an immediate estimate on delivery of 90 minutes. Seems like a lot, but it’s worth it.
It takes planning. Order earlier. Or, just expect the wait. If it shows up in 60 minutes, you’re happily surprised. The days of 30 minutes or it’s free are over. Again, that’s not your driver’s fault.
Being grateful for your driver’s efforts is nice, but it doesn’t pay the bills. Be sure you are leaving a tip for your driver. Ordering from websites and phone apps is super convenient, but some sites make the area where you tip hard to find. So find it. Make the effort to seek out the tipping section under payment and fill in the appropriate tip before clicking “place my order.” Your order is not complete without it.
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And don’t get it confused with delivery fees. If it’s a fee, it goes to the restaurant or the service, not the driver. Tipping the driver shouldn’t be optional. It’s their livelihood. So be generous. And if you're OK with contact delivery, cash tips are always accepted.
These days, we should all appreciate the convenience of delivery, especially in a pandemic-stricken world. Being able to enjoy all the best foods in town in the comfort of our own homes is a gift, especially on those cold and wintry nights when we don’t want to leave the house.
We’re lucky to have people willing to drive through it all just to make us happy. Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night keeps these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. We see you delivery drivers, and we are grateful for your hard work.
Dan Lederer is a Middletown resident with 30 years experience in the food service industry throughout New England. He continues to work locally behind the scenes within the industry and remains a devoted fan of all things restaurant and hospitality related. His column appears on newportri.com and Thursdays in The Daily News. Cheers!
This article originally appeared on Newport Daily News: Newport RI: Food delivery service drivers need your support