People Out Loud: Confessions of a dasher – Bring the food, hold the judgment

June 2022 Posted in Opinion / Columnists

Editor’s note: Dixon Bledsoe invited a guest columnist for this month. Silverton resident Joel Autry shares a story… 

When I embarked upon the side hustle of door dashing, I expected to bolster my own personal bottom line. It turns out there was so much more I would discover on this adventure!

I discovered a plethora of mom-and-pop type restaurants whose aromas spoke to me saying, you need to come back here and eat! It became apparent to me that Salem has several interesting neighborhoods with some very unique homes. I even discovered that, despite the personal profit motive, dashing provided some much needed solitude and time to be alone with my thoughts.

These discoveries were somewhat unexpected for sure. But the discovery that stood out to me is that dashing provided a peek into the lives of the folks electing to use the service; a sociological study of sorts.

I once delivered skittles and a slushy from 7-Eleven for $10 payout. Why? I wondered if the convenience was causing laziness in our youth. I can’t judge because I didn’t meet the customer face to face. 

I delivered a bottle of wine a short two blocks from the Safeway. My assumption was the customer was too tipsy to go herself. I did meet her and she was a bit wobbly. I even fulfilled a 21 item grocery list where I had to text back and forth because the store did not have the specific tampons the client ordered. That was weird since that was the first time I had bought those.

The one delivery that still impacts me today is a McDonald’s breakfast delivery. The item list included one or two of almost everything on their breakfast menu. It was 10 a.m. on a Saturday morning so I expected to encounter a group of soccer moms who had no time to cook breakfast before the multiple games scheduled that day. 

When I arrived, the delivery instructions indicated I should knock, then open the door and bring the food in. I was not too excited about fulfilling these instructions, but if I wanted my $14 and some change it was incumbent on me to follow through. I knocked, opened the door and looked into the room. To my surprise, there were no soccer moms nor were there kids in shorts and cleats preparing for competition. What I saw shook me to my core.

The friendly woman sitting in a chair next to a table with various condiments greeted me and directed me to place the three bags of Mickey D’s on that same table. My assumption was that she was about to consume these breakfast items on her own. The fact that she appeared to weigh an estimated 600 pounds sent my mind in that direction. Maybe I was wrong, maybe her guests had not arrived. I just know I had to end my dashing prematurely that day because of the impact that scene had on me. I truly felt for her.

My dashing experience reminds me that there is so much in the world I don’t know about or understand. My self-imposed job description is to observe, learn and dispense with judgment.

It you would like to try your hand as a guest columnist you can reach Dixon by emailing [email protected] Please put Guest Columnist in the subject line.

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