Delivery driver is the eighth most dangerous profession in the country, according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The complete list includes many other occupations commonly assumed to be dangerous, such as construction workers, policemen and athletes.
Many places on and around campus have employee delivery drivers, who usually deliver by bike. Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches employs students to deliver food orders at the company’s pledged fast pace. However, it’s not just chain restaurants that employ students for delivery – some food trucks that offer delivery services also have student delivery workers.
Insomnia Cookies, located on Montgomery Avenue near the Student Center, is one of the few trucks at Temple that employs students and also delivers to the surrounding areas of campus. Open until 3 a.m. and making deliveries until about 2:45 a.m., the truck is a popular spot for sleep-deprived students with a sweet tooth.
Cookies can be ordered over the phone or online, and are usually delivered in 45 minutes or less. While those students who placed the order wait for their treats in the comfort of their apartments or dorms, their peers bike throughout Main Campus and the surrounding area, sometimes late at night.
Lee McGirr, a senior metals/jewelry/CAD-CAM major in the Tyler School of Art, has been working at Insomnia for a little less than a month. He said he is enjoying his new job and the flexible schedule that comes along with it. Since starting the job, he said he has not had any dangerous experiences while making deliveries.
“I have time to work in the studio in the morning, go to class and then go to work for the late shift, so it’s actually ideal for me,” McGirr said about Insomnia’s late closing time. “So far, I haven’t had any particularly bad or dangerous run-ins while delivering.”
McGirr acknowledged that as is the case with many inner-city jobs, personal safety is something that must be kept in mind on the job. Horror stories that have circulated around the news caused panic for delivery workers and their respective employers. This past July, a pizza delivery driver in Grand Rapids, Mich., was stabbed five times in the back and robbed, though luckily was able to drive himself back to his workplace to seek help.
McGirr believes that these instances can be kept only as horror stories for student workers in North Philadelphia, and said he takes precautions when making deliveries.
“Generally speaking, since I’m on a bike, I’m not too easy of a target, especially on the weekends with all the partygoers being on-foot off campus,” McGirr said. “But there’s reflective tape on my bike, and I never go out with more than just enough cash to make change on me.”
Many people believe that it should be the duty of the employer to ensure that the delivery drivers are safe at all times during their working hours. Some restaurants have placed restrictions on delivery areas where there have been previous reports of crime, and some establishments won’t deliver past a certain time. McGirr said he agrees that it’s a good way to make sure the drivers don’t run into trouble.
“I think that would be good,” he said. “I bike everywhere, and there are definitely parts of Philly that I don’t like riding through at night. But the delivery radius for Insomnia isn’t particularly large, and there’s not really a part that I wouldn’t want to ride through.”
According to the Insomnia Cookies website, persons applying to be delivery drivers must have knowledge of the area that they are applying for, own a proper form of transportation and should be aware that typical delivery hours are from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m.
The marketing representative and Temple truck managers for Insomnia declined to comment on the precautions taken by the company to ensure delivery driver protection. Nevertheless, McGirr said that common sense is the key to staying safe.
“As long as you stay aware of your surroundings and don’t do anything particularly stupid, I think you can avoid getting into most dangerous situations,” McGirr said. “Plus, being on a bike means that if you do think someone is acting suspicious, you can avoid them. There’s always the chance of random incidents, but no more than when you’re walking around.”
Ariane Pepsin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org