Staring Contest

The sad reality of America is we take everyone who we don't know suspiciously. We tend to hate each other to a rather disturbing degree. Staring at strangers in the neighborhood is not uncommon. We throw our arms up and shake our head whenever a car drives by the same place twice. We glare at a lost driver with a look like, "What the heck are you doing here?" and don't bother waving back when they try to say hello. Your typical American handshake comes to pulling out a Glock and threatening the cashier at the liquor store.

You can kind of already understand what I'm getting with this.

Now, don't get me wrong. Some of the customers I have are pleasant to interact with. Some of them will even invite you in, asking how everyone at work is doing, and throw a $20 tip and say, "Keep the change." But in addition to the 20% or so of customers who feel like they're entitled and give you little to nothing in tip value, there's the neighbors.

Here's the thing. Especially during the first couple of months when I was doing deliveries, I heavily relied on Google Maps. The problem, is more often than not, Google Maps will get me in the right vicinity, but not directly towards the right house. A common example is when delivering to an apartment complex. Google won't take me to apartment 7H, or 12S, that will require me to drive around in circles until I find the right apartment.

This is exactly what happened the first time I delivered to a particular neighborhood. The number will show up on Google Maps, but not the apartment number. This neighborhood is huge, and the numbers are scattered all over the place; they're not necessarily in order. I drive around in circles a few times, hoping that I can find the right apartment. Can't find it.

I call the customer. No answer. Leave a voicemail. Call again a few minutes later. No answer. It's just after I talk to one of the neighbors that he finally calls me back after half-an-hour of searching.

"It's the first house on the right. Blue Hyundai Elantra."

The same house I drove by about six times. I couldn't find the apartment number anywhere on the place he was staying. And in the meantime I've frigging riled up the neighborhood with people glaring at me through their windows.

So there's two lessons here. First, please have your phone ready in case we get lost. Don't get yourself in the shower or get pre-occupied with some other task that will take you away from your phone. We ask for your number so that we can call you in the event we can't find you. I can assure you I throw the receipts in the trash after the delivery is done, so I'm not collecting any of these numbers for personal use. I can't stress how many times a customer leaves their number on the receipt of the order, and upon calling it, they either don't pick up or it's out of service. What the frig? How can we deliver to you unless we find you?

Second, dear neighbors, please understand that we, as delivery drivers, will get lost from time to time. If we're wandering around the neighborhood, driving slowly, it's because we're trying to find the right house. This can especially be a problem at night; our store is open until 9 o'clock and when it's pitch black outside, we're going to have a hard time finding the right number unless it's right there on the mailbox. Which, half of the time, it isn't. I'll admit that I've pulled into the wrong driveway and even knocked on the wrong door at night at times, because frigging Google can't get me there. If the customer doesn't pick up their phone for some reason, this will especially contribute to us getting lost for an extended period of time, more time than you or I would like.

Understandably, though, you're still probably going to view me as a stalker, because I don't have a placard that I can put on the roof of my car that establishes who I work for. I asked the owner of the shop if I could have one, and his response was, "The problem with that, is if you get pulled over for speeding, it will affect our reputation." Something along those lines anyway. But I don't speed anyways. So I can't get one. I might just make one myself. But if you stare at me, just know that I'll stare at you with an even more intense, soul-piercing look.

As I'm getting more familiar with our delivery area and who exactly I'm delivering to, I find I'm not using my GPS as often, and therefore getting lost a lot less. But there will still be times where there might be a road detour -- particularly in my area right now, as there is a lot of road construction going on -- and I'll get lost, once more. Again, please understand I'm not stalking anyone -- I just can't find the right house number and I have to turn around.

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