Delivery Drivers, the Pandemic, and the Last Mile
At risk of stating the obvious, let’s hear it for ALL of the drivers who are keeping everything running in our currently quarantined lives — and there are a lot of them! From long-haul drivers who bring foods and essential items from plants to distribution centers, drivers who transport items to stores or closer DCs, last-mile drivers who carry packages and groceries to our doorsteps, and the meal-delivery drivers who bring the occasional professionally prepared meal. They are, without a doubt, our lifelines.
In addition to physicians, nurses, hospital support staff, EMTs, firefighters and police officers, grocery store staff, restaurant workers, and behind-the-scenes staff in warehouses and distribution centers — this army of drivers is making our stay-at-home lives possible.
What’s noteworthy about delivery drivers these days is that, to many people outside of the transportation industry, they’ve gone from being almost invisible to becoming pandemic heroes — virtually overnight. In fact, prior to the onset of COVID-19 and the implementation of state-by-state stay-home orders, most people didn’t think much about long-haul and delivery drivers. And, if they did, there was occasional annoyance with neighborhood delivery drivers who parked carelessly or with the 18 wheeler blocking traffic while they carefully backed into your local supermarket. Now, the sight of an 18 wheeler, parcel truck, grocery van, or meal delivery service is positively newsworthy.
These folks are, as we know, stepping up to make sure that we can achieve our social-distancing goals. For a look at the world of trucking from the inside out, The New York Times published an article on Friday, 4/17, ‘Grammie’s Taking Food to Other People’: A Trucker Keeps Trucking, which features Ingrid Brown, an intrepid long-haul trucker based in North Carolina. If you haven’t read it, it’s worth your time. In addition to being somewhat of a rarity in a predominantly male industry, she’s been in the industry for 40 years and was a founding member of Women in Trucking, a national organization that supports women truck drivers. The piece gives a close-up look at the impact of this pandemic on an incredibly challenging job.
How can you show drivers you care?
How can you help drivers? If you go to GoFundMe.com and search for ‘truckers,’ there are a number of initiatives there that you can consider — from some that are raising funds for PPE to others that are feeding truckers in various areas of the country. Feel free to support any of those efforts or brainstorm about other ways you might support these essential roles. At the least, if you know a truck driver or encounter one (from a distance), let them know you care and appreciate the service they’re providing — we couldn’t beat the virus without them.
P.S. — Here’s the Instagram account of a wonderful UPS driver in my hometown of New Orleans, Jay Hardesty. He celebrates his city and the dogs on his route. If you’re not on Instagram, here’s an article with a few representative highlights. Enjoy!