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Hackernoon logoDelivering happiness by@joaoh82

Delivering happiness

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@joaoh82João Henrique Machado

Delivering pizzas in search of happiness…

Delivering Happiness

What do we search in life if not different experiences with different people? If you are not seeking that, what have you been doing with your life, really?

I believe that challenges are a part of life, and as such you should look for them, and not exactly just wait for them to show up in your life. And that is what I did last year for about a month or two. I needed a challenge, so I went and created one for myself.

I am a software engineer from Brazil that had recently moved to Rotterdam NL for work and I decided to work as a delivery guy for a while. This is about what I learned.

First Delivery

There I was, getting on the bike for my first shift and first delivery ever. Let me ask you something, when was the last time you did something for the first time? This is a great feeling, and one that we should seek a lot more in life. Doing something for the first time is one of the most exciting things in life.

Anyway, there I was, at first a little bored because it took about 20 minutes to get my first assignment, the app ringed and I directed myself to the restaurant to pick up the food. It was bit weird, because it was a restaurant that I had been to a couple of times before as a customer and now I was there picking up food to deliver to other customers.

I got to the restaurant and said to the waitress, "Deliveroo" and waited outside. She said, "ok, the food will be right out". So I waited, in front of the restaurant, with my huge squared backpack, and I have to admit, at that moment I was thinking, "What if someone sees me doing this? What am I going to say? Do?". I guess it is normal to think that way. We are naturally trained in our lives to think we are better then some jobs, that is just the way it is. So it is almost an involuntary thought. But I got news for you. You are not better then any job and there may come a time in your life, where you might actually have to do one of them. That is life, deal with it.

So there I was on the bike again, on the way to the customer with the food. I have always believed that the energy around us affect us a lot and that goes for the food you eat too. So if I was going to deliver someones food, I was going to do it with a smile. I remember that this first delivery took me to a part of town I had never been to, which was also great, I was not only working but also getting to know the city.

Food delivered! It was a burger! And a smile! And that was it! One less first thing I'll have in my life, one more experience, one more person in my universe.

Delivery crew

(not using real names, but based on real people)

You never know who you might meet, until you actually try it. And I met some great and amazing people during my time with them. I was a software engineer doing a social experiment, but in life you will find people doing all sorts of things for a bunch of different reasons and none of them are actually less important.

After a couple of weeks working for Deliveroo I decided to change it to Uber Eats, mostly because at the time for Deliveroo you had to commit to working at a certain hour and for Uber Eats you could just go online whenever you wanted, so for my purposes, was a better fit.

And that is when things got really interesting, because that is when I started to meet the real people behind the bikes. Since Uber Eats at the beginning did not have that many customers, all the delivery guys would just go online waiting for deliveries, also because Uber Eats would pay a minimum per hour if you stayed online inside the "green zone", which was basically downtown Rotterdam.

So little by little the riders started to get together. I guess it is just natural of people when they are alone to look for other similar people at least to feel like the are not alone. Anyway, One by one we started to sit near to each other and not long after that we already had a official meeting spot right by the Pathe Schouwburgplein (which by the way is a word I still cannot pronounce in Dutch).

Like I said, people do things for all the different reasons, so on this delivery crew we had Andreas, a greek guy that had moved to Rotterdam not long before but was still waiting for his official work permit to come out, so Uber Eats was a nice way to make some quick money and help pay the bills. This guy was a really nice guy, and actually was the first one I meet and since he was doing more hours a week then I was, he actually introduced me to the rest of the crew, that is, before his work permit came out and then he dropped Uber Eats to go become a Truck Driver. He was really quiet guy, always drinking one of those supermarket cold cappuccinos from Albert Heijn.

I think the second guy I met and also a real character was Abdul, a Pakistani guy, real smart dude, living in Rotterdam and studying Business at Erasmus University, really pro-active guy, but always looking to find an easier way to do things. But not always the easy way is the best way, right? For instance, he was a really small guy and unfortunately the Uber Eats backpack was bit big for him, so started tried to do a couple of deliveries using just his backpack, but of course that people started to complain and he got some bad reviews because of that, not counting the fact that he was also breaking the rules by not using a standard delivery backpack, there is a reason for that, on of them is to keep the food warm. I do value his initiative tho, he had a problem and tried to find a better solution, but maybe for this situation was not the best one.

The group was pretty heterogeneous. We had a Italian kid who was going to Cinema School or something like that, that was always carrying a nice video camera and had a pretty cool train conductor hat. We had a dutch kid who was studying at Erasmus University I think and on weekend he was always there on a huge hangover because he partied all night the night before. We also had Surinamese kid Jeff, who was actually taking it really serious and was always there ready to go since this was his main source of income, I had a lot of great talks with him also.

There was also a girl, Robin, yeah, a girl among all the delivery boys. She had a real entrepreneurial spirit also. She actually started with Uber Eats in Amsterdam, besides living in Rotterdam, because they started in Amsterdam before. So she would catch the train everyday to Amsterdam and when she got there she would rent a OV-Bike from the central station, open the Uber Eats Driver App, and there it was, she was ready to go! I find it really amazing how people find different ways to explore these types of services. I am sure that when the creators of Uber Eats came up with the idea, they would not say that someone would take a train to a different city, rent a bike, just to work. But i guess necessity makes us go look for an opportunity.

Funny stories

There was this one time that Abdul, the Pakistani kid, who was always getting himself in trouble, took Robin's bike to go to the supermarket and said he was going to come back really quick. Why he did not take his own bike still wonders me. But for some god forsaken reason he went a supermarket at least 15 minutes away by bike, with somebody else's bike, seriously! The problem is that Robin was online on Uber Eats and waiting for orders, and right at that moment she got one, of course! Murphy's Law in action full on! She then called Abdul and asked him, "Where are you man?", I don't know exactly what he answered because I wasn't on the phone, just sitting next to her, but she wasn't happy. The fact is that he wasn't going to be back in time, because with Uber Eats you are rated on everything and specially time it takes for you to get to the restaurant, so what we did was that the dutch kid, Jeff, took her to Central Station so she could rent an OV-Bike and go do her delivery. And of course, 5 minutes later Abdul arrived to the group again, like nothing happened. Just another day with the Delivery Crew.

There was also the time when I went to deliver a salad, a really cute girl showed up to the door and went home with a phone number. Well, it happens.


I always hear these stories about this people that immigrate to a new country and go through all kinds of struggles, where they have to work as a bus boy or deliver pizzas. Well, now I guess I can say that too. I gave myself a challenge and had a great experience living through it, discovered a lot of the city, went to new restaurants and places that I would probably never go, and most important, got to meet some really amazing people on the way. What else could I ask?

See you all at the next one!

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