The Delivery Driver Working Nights, Caring for Child with Special Needs by Day: 'We've Spoken About the Risks'
PEOPLE's Voices from the Coronavirus Crisis will share firsthand accounts of the people facing unique challenges during a global pandemic
D’Shea Grant is on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, bringing much-needed food and other items to those observing government-mandated “shelter at home” orders while essential workers like Grant go out to stores and make deliveries. The 41-year-old mom delivers with DoorDash in the evenings; by day, she takes care of her 20-year-old daughter who has cerebral palsy. Grant, who serves as a “Dasher” across Brooklyn and Queens (some of the hardest-hit areas of the pandemic) opens up about how her role as a delivery driver has changed and how she’s keeping her customers, family and herself safe amid the health crisis.
I have been working for DoorDash as a delivery driver for a year. Before the pandemic, you would only get maybe one order per location. But now you’re receiving three or four orders, so you have to go to three different locations and that’s more money. I would estimate that I’m making 20 percent more than usual.
People are ordering less of the fast food and more of the home-cooked foods: comfort food and soul food. There is a lot of collard greens, cabbage, macaroni and cheese, rice, jerk chicken, Jamaican food, stuff like that. But also, there is a lot of Chipotle. I work Thursday through Sunday; I wouldn’t know what Monday through Wednesday orders look like, but Thursday is like the weekend food.
And it’s not just food people are ordering. We also deliver groceries and medicine now, too. Customers have also been so nice — people are more generous. Though, it could just be the times.
I, like most people, am concerned about my safety during this pandemic, but I’m not worried. I do my best to keep my hygiene on point when I’m outside — and especially when I am dashing. The company has offered us gloves, masks, wipes and hand sanitizer, given to us for free. Another thing I have also incorporated — which a friend of mine suggested to me — is to have water, soap and paper towels in my car.
Every time I get out of the car I wash my hands and I’ll always have my hand sanitizer on me. Sometimes I use my elbow to open the front door — or I’ll wait for someone else to open up the door and then I’ll go in — but if I need to use my hand I’m prepared.
As soon as I am done with a delivery, I take the gloves off, put them in a garbage bag and wash my hands with soap and water again. It’s a routine, just takes a little bit longer. However, I keep myself and my clients safe.
DoorDash also has the no-contact option — the way to drop off the food without touching anyone and they don’t touch me. So, let’s say if I have 15 orders in a night, 12 of those orders will be no contact orders. But even if they are not, I still practice the no-contact order format. I don’t want to make them feel uncomfortable grabbing the food.
I work as a dasher in the evenings from 6:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. During the day, I am taking care of my daughter. She is 20 years old and she’s special needs. She’s still in school because they don’t graduate until 21, so we’re now doing classwork at home. I’ll get up in the morning and do the online classes with her. It’s a little bit different than your normal online classes because there is more physical contact that I have to be involved with. Certain things I have to place her hand on to let her know, This is what we’re doing today.
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We have a routine that I try to make sure I keep it steady. I am very hands-on with her, which is nothing new to me because I’ve been hands-on with her from the very beginning. I call myself a pop-up parent because you’ll never know when I’ll be there. Because my daughter can’t speak for herself, I’m her advocate. I’m her eyes, ears, feet — I’m everything for her.
But of course, working from home is a little bit different for us because, while I knew they got a lot of work, I didn’t realize how much work they got. It opened up my eyes to appreciating the teachers even more.
When I’m not at home and when I go to work, I have family that’s there and they stay with my daughter. I live in a two-family home. I live on the first floor and my mother lives upstairs on the second floor. My sister lives here as well with my nephews. There’s always family in the house, but right now, only two of us go out: my sister works and I work. No one else goes out. I especially make sure my mother stays in.
My sister is also a front line worker — she is part of the essential team at Home Depot. She works in the morning and I work in the evening. While she’s at work, I’m here with the kids. Then when she gets home, I go out and she’s with the kids.
Being an African American family, we have spoken about how the virus has impacted our community and the risks that we’re taking. Sometimes we will take days off if we feel that the community isn’t taking heed to what’s going on — we’ll take a step back. That’s one fact I love about DoorDash, you have flexibility to be able to come and go as you please. I can set my own schedule and if I don’t feel comfortable outside at a certain time I can end my dash early and no one would penalize me for that. We also get two weeks paid leave if we were to get sick…I don’t know if any other companies do that for contract workers.
But other than working, I mean we still have to go outside for essentials. God forbid if anything happens to us, pray that we can get through it. But for now, I just try to keep my immune system boosted with vitamins. Try to keep it protected, especially with a lot of Vitamin C.
Also, during my dash shift, while I’m waiting outside for my food, I do some exercises. I know it sounds crazy, but I literally will do a whole routine exercise while I wait for the food. I like to keep a watch on my heart rate. It also makes the time fly quicker too.
- As told to Morgan Evans
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