Like a lot of people, I love to shop over the internet. There is no greater joy at 2 or 3 in the morning than to be able to find something I want or need and do a few clicks on the computer and it’s on its way. 

I understand how the internet can be a job killer. Online shopping is leading to certain stores closing. But at the same time, it’s opened up a plethora of opportunities for delivery drivers.

Last year around this time, I went to at least 10 different hardware stores looking for the kind of nails that go in my nail gun. I went to the big box stores and I also went to a number of smaller locally owned stores. Nobody had it. Then I went on eBay. Several clicks later, two packages of exactly what I had been looking for were on the way. 

Those nails are relatively small. And they were being delivered by the USPS. So the mail person can put them in a mailbox. However when I order from other online shopping services that don’t come via the post office, they are not allowed to put anything into a mailbox. Thankfully I have a neighbor who is always willing to accept my larger packages. But I wonder how many people who like to order online think about exactly where and how the package is to be delivered? And I know the coin from both sides, because I deliver packages as well as order them.

In the fairy-tale world, the delivery person will ring your doorbell, stand patiently and wait for you to slowly arrive at the door, and then hand you your parcel. In the real world where numerous packages have to be delivered within a certain time frame, doorbell ringing and waiting for the customer to respond is not happening.

I find that a lot of people who order are just completely inconsiderate. From the lack of porch lights on when deliveries are at night, to not shoveling the snow off the sidewalk, stairs and porch, certain customers think that because they are entitled to free delivery, it’s supposed to be maid service. It’s not!

The first thing on every delivery driver’s mind is their safety. I am mindful of mine at all times. It is extremely frustrating to not be able to see the address on a house. Then there are those that do not have an address at all or the address is 2 inches tall. And there is the address hidden by holiday decorations. Another frustration is when the last numbers on the address have fallen off and the trifling homeowner hasn’t replaced it.

Dogs are also a delivery person’s concern. Several of my co-workers have been attacked and bitten by dogs. I had a dog bite at my behind, and I can recall the feel his teeth made as they went down against my pants.

Parking is yet another consideration. The city gives us no special dispensation when it comes to delivering packages and parking. Another co-worker parked in a commercial loading zone on a Sunday morning only to return to her car and find a $140 ticket. Another co-worker parked on Chicago Avenue east of Michigan where the building doesn’t want anybody to park in the cut-in. She returned to find that her car had been towed by the city. That cost her several hundred dollars.

Gaining access to apartment buildings is another challenge. I’ll speak more on that in next week’s column.