Day in the Life

Day in the Life: The Pizza Guy Delivering Domino's During a Pandemic

"There’s nothing out there now – nothing at all. There’s literally one or two restaurants here that are still going."
02 May 2020, 4:00am
Dominos pizza delivery driver diary during UK coronavirus lockdown
Photo: courtesy of Jack

This article originally appeared on VICE UK.

Jack* is a food delivery driver in Huddersfield, UK. We asked him to keep a diary of his working day in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

The latest I wake up is 7 or 8 AM and depending on the weather I try to do some exercise and things like that. Today I just sat and watched YouTube, though. Last night I clocked off at 11.30 at night – so it was fairly busy. I delivered 20 or 30 pizzas yesterday.

I started just over two years ago and it’s been pretty much my full-time job since then. I started doing Deliveroo on push bikes and then moved onto motorbikes. I work for all the platforms available in Huddersfield: Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Stuart – which does the big accounts for Just Eat, so Burger King, KFC, Subway, that kind of thing.

You can start with seven in the morning with Uber and deliver McDonald's breakfast, but it’s pointless. I generally don’t start until lunchtime. Between 12 and 2 PM is the busy time. Generally I’ll work until 9 or 10PM – if it’s quiet I’ll just log off and go home. Like a lot of towns, we’ve got the university makes all the difference – without that there’s pretty much no living in what we do.

I started self-isolation on Friday the 15th before the lock-down happened, so I’ve been self-isolating for a week. Then the government started saying, “Don’t go to pubs”. Then McDonald's started closing their restaurants and just doing take away, drive-thru and delivery.

That was half-way through my self-isolation so I thought, ‘at least when I go back, it’s going to be mad busy, because everyone’s going to want deliveries if they can’t go into restaurants.’ I thought if anything, we’ll have less time to wait in restaurants because there will be no customers in there, so we’ll get the food faster, get it to the customer, do more jobs and earn more.

Then a couple of days after that all the restaurants announced that they were going to close, so straight away, overnight, that was it! As much as they said restaurants could stay open and offer a delivery service, everywhere has just decided to take the 80 percent wages and close. Just offering a takeaway service, they’re not going to make anywhere near the money they need to.

We knock and then move back two metres [when we deliver]. We’re meant to put the food on the floor in front of them. It’s amazing the amount of people who will stand at the door waiting for it to be handed to them.

Without the students, it’s a totally different ball game. They paid our bills. I think everyone bolted as soon as they could. We had a lot of foreign students and they’re all gone. I did a delivery to the halls of residence on Sunday. It was a massive halls and I said, “Are you guys the only ones here then?” and they were like, “I think there’s about three of us in here.” That must be pretty miserable. I hope they’ve put them in the same flat or something.

There’s nothing out there now – nothing at all. There’s literally one or two restaurants in Huddersfield that are still going. I’ve been in town and turned Uber Eats on and not had anything for hours. There are areas that seem to be busy – bigger cities with more independent restaurants.

I’m lucky because one of the guys that I used to work with on the platforms works for Domino's now. They’re still operating and have been mad busy. They’ve taken on additional drivers, so at the moment that’s what I’ve been doing. That’s all right for the time being. How long’s that going to go on for? I’ve been lucky – I don’t know that the other guys are going and how they’re managing.

It’s reassuring that I’ll be eligible for money from the government in June. But what do we do until then? Universal Credit. There’s a lot of people who have fallen through the gap. The government spend a lot of time encouraging people to be self-employed and be your own boss, all that kind of thing. And then as soon as something like this happens it’s “get on the dole”.

There are easier ways to do it, but it’s the whole Tory mantra – they don’t want to give any money to anyone they think doesn’t deserve it. The whole “wait until June” thing is a load of rubbish. They could give everyone two grand now and then sort out the applications later on.

I honestly don’t think Domino's should still be operating – it’s not an essential service. Essential pizza? It’s crazy, isn’t it? It’s some sense of normality for people but I’m sure they could manage without.

*Name has been changed