The day in the life of a Yangon food courier

Since last August 20-year old Chit Su Ma worked as a cashier at the fast-food chain Marry Brown. Though she enjoyed the cooking, cleaning and customer service aspects of the job, she was also impressed by the food delivery riders who came to deliver most of their orders throughout the day.

Being more of an outdoors person herself, she decided to join the green-suited army of food couriers. Rather than preparing and taking orders, she’s now delivering them

“I’m impressed by the work that they do, so I changed my job. I love cycling, and I met a lot of Grab couriers working at the burger shop. I feel free when I’m riding my bike, and it relieves so much stress – especially during the lockdowns,” Chit Su Ma said.

Chit Su Ma is a second-year distance education student majoring in Geography. She grew up in a town called Wundwin in Mandalay. Three of her brothers and sisters current work overseas, and Chit Su Ma currently lives in a rented apartment with her sister in Myaynigone – a township with its fair share of restaurants, cafes and retail outlets.

“This work allows me to be quite flexible. The harder I work, the more money I earn. When I’m not working, I can study from home,” she said.

Though food courier work is dominated by young men, Chit Su Ma doesn’t worry about being one of the few female delivery riders. “I just need to be more careful at night,” she said. When it becomes dark in the evening, she closes her application and returns home – not wanting to be attacked or harassed on the street.

“Some streets in Yangon are deserted at night. In the evening I only accept orders near my house, in case something happens when I am out,” she added. Usually her sister will greet her after work at the Myaynigone bridge, a popular hangout for food couriers in Sanchaung.

“I don’t want to trust even pedestrians at night. If I am ever attacked, I might not be able to defend myself,” she said.

Chit Su Ma said that most women are naturally fearful, and are reluctant to take risks – especially in the face of danger. “Most women want to be soft and tender, which is why many don’t choose these kinds of jobs,” she said.

Though she enjoys her job immensely, things weren’t always so easy for the 20-year old. When she first started, some days she’d return home with no orders. That made her depressed. But now that the food delivery trend has caught on throughout the city, Chit Su Ma now receives at least seven to ten orders per day. “Sometimes I will deliver up to 20, if it’s a good day,” she said.

Being a young woman some of her customers greet her with awe. Once a woman opened the door and, after receiving the delivery, said she was cute and young. She even gave Chit Su Ma a bag of apples and a cold drink, as a token of appreciation.

Most of her customers are kind. If the rain is heavy, they sent text messages telling her to take care. She has never received a complaint for being late, and many
customers also give her tips.

Chit Su Ma, picking up one of her many deliveries at a cafe in Sanchaung, just before the Yangon lockdowns in September, 2020.

“I am a food delivery rider, so I have to be able to stand the heavy rain. It doesn’t matter how much it rains, it’s my job to deliver the food. Sometimes they make the order because it’s raining. If I’m late, they will be hungry,” she said.

There has been a massive surge in COVID-19 cases across the city this past week, and Chit Su Ma has to follow the protocols set out by the Ministry of Health and Sports. She keeps a small bottle of hand gel in her bag, and wears a helmet and mask at all times.

Approximately 10,000 people per year die on Myanmar’s roads, meaning that – statistically – Chit Su Ma is at higher risk of a car accident that dying of COVID-19.

Nevertheless, she is always careful on the roads, and says that most car and bus drivers are quite courteous with courier riders.

“Most car drivers slow down when the see me,” she said. The boom in food courier jobs is an unexpected side effect of the pandemic, something that provides both employment and flexibility to fit and young people across the city. It also revolutionises the way that customers, businesses and workers interact– via digital technology.

Given that many other young people job uncertainties during the lockdown, she encourages others to consider courier work. “I am happy to see young people working hard. There may be challenges, but we are fit and strong enough to overcome those,” she said.

Asked about her future, the energetic Chit Su Ma said she wants to be a policewoman. “I am interested in law and want to help people with courage,” she said. Her perseverance and hard work may just be what Myanmar’s police force need, if only they’d also adopt the digital communications that companies like Grab, FoodPanda and Door2Door employ so well.

“To see the original article click link here”

Source : Myanmar Times

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