Last year, I wrote about walking into the fire. It seems like such a long time ago after what has happened in the world. For me, it feels even longer. Needless to say, it has not been a good year.
I am not one to dwell on the challenges and failures of the last year, however. I strive to not let one single moment, decision, or person drag me down. Instead, I try to find the positives in the negatives and see what I can actually learn from the challenges.
The decision I made last year pushed me down in a major way. In order to make things work, I had no choice but to set property management on the back burner and work as a Skip the Dishes courier. It just so happened that the courier job started as COVID-19 started shutting things down. I wrote earlier in the year about some of the other things I had noticed surrounding COVID, but wanted to take some time to reflect on it now since it mirrored a lot of what was happening to me personally.
I remember receiving the courier bags, unpacking them, and letting them sit in my dining area. I don’t want to say it took courage to pick them up and get started, but it did take some time to get over the fact that I was going to be a courier. Everyone sees the food couriers out and looks down on them for a variety of reasons- parking anywhere they want, killing the restaurant business, the driving isn’t good for the environment, the bad driving on the roads- you name it.
I was one that looked down upon it, too, which is why it was such a struggle for me to click that checkmark and accept a shift to get started. There were several anxious moments. Filling up the gas tank, having wipes for the bags, loading everything up, and sitting in a parking lot waiting for an order to come through. All opportunities to question what I was doing. It felt weird to be sitting in my vehicle waiting, palms sweating against the steering wheel, debating about whether to go to a different area, or stay put. Or go home.
The notification went off: I was matched to an order.
I can’t remember where the order was from, a fast-food place for sure. I arrived at the restaurant, walked in with my bags. I remembering nodding at some of the other couriers1, and waited for my order. Put everything in the thermal bag, and drove off to the first house. Set the bag down on the ground to ring the doorbell, and then opened it up with the customer there. I’m sure my face turned beet red: the drinks had tipped over in the bag creating a mess.
Thankfully, the customer took it in good stride2, I walked away, cleaned off the mess in the bag, and took a moment to gather myself. Checked-off the order and almost immediately received another order match: I was officially a food courier.
A few shifts later, the rules for restaurants changed and things really slowed down traffic-wise for them. Fast food restaurants still had long line-ups in the drive-thru, which I was able to bypass by going into the building. Complete ghost towns. Not that I frequent fast food restaurants, but even I knew that having the parking lots be empty was unusual.
As restaurants shifted to the new rules and procedures, so did the couriers. I don’t think I have used more hand sanitizer or Lysol wipes ever before. It was strange to be cleaning so thoroughly- the bags, my hands, my steering wheel, my doorhandles, after touching other handles, etc. What was stranger was being able to park so easily at the restaurants, especially downtown. Finding a spot took almost no time at all with how empty Bernard Ave was.
In May, restaurants were once again able to open up, not fully however. There was a dramatic shift in energy in the city that kept building to the July long weekend. Seeing people back in the restaurants felt good, even if finding a parking spot was becoming more of a nuisance. How quickly did I become one of those assholes pulling into a non-parking spot and throwing on my hazard lights. Fire hydrant? Hazards. Alleyways? Hazards. Parking diagonally onto a walkway with no parking signs? Hazards. I was relentless with that button. There was also the discovery of how fun U-turns at intersections were.
Time truly is money when it comes to being a courier. It helped me really quantify what my time was worth. Doing an order for $7.50 going further 10 kms? Not worth it. I haven’t been as good as saying no as I was as a food courier. There was a real intention when starting a shift thinking that I was going to hit a certain dollar mark by the end. It was a shift in how I approached money. Attaining a certain mark rather than waiting for the big prize to come to me.
Those lessons in time management came in handy when preparing for my broker’s examination. Some may recall that I was preparing for the exam a year ago when my management contracts were sold. I was signed up to write the exam in April, but it was pushed back to May then June, because of COVID. In mid-May, I made a concentrated effort to prepare for the exam, focusing as much as I could on my weak points. When the exam date came, I was feeling pretty confident walking into that exam room, mask on.
The worst part was waiting for the marks to be returned to me. I had been warned that it could take between 4-6 weeks to get the marks back. They took nearly the full six weeks. I decided to check online one Friday night (after checking 2-3 times a day the previous few weeks), and there it was: 81%. A passing mark. It was late July when I received the mark, which set things in motion to startup a new property management brokerage in Kelowna. That plan changed to joining Mist Property Corp, as both a licensed property manager and the Managing Broker.
The switch happened in mid-August, which aligned with my time as a food courier slowing down. The first week of not doing Skip the Dishes was weird. The previous 5-6 months, I knew what I was doing 3-7 nights a week, depending on whether I had my daughter or not. Coming home from the property management work and not having to go right back out was nice. It also made me realize how I spent my time before wasn’t the best way I could spend my time. I could do better, be more productive, or find activities that were relaxing rather than build up more anxiety – aka doom scrolling.
It’s been a slow process of trying to be more intentional with my time, both at work and after-work. Less hours spent on social media, more on actual reading or listening to audiobooks/podcasts. More real conversations, too- a thought unheard of for an introvert.
Needless to say, there is still room for improvement. Isn’t there always room for improvement? A tough year with more challenges ahead as COVID rears its ugly head once again. Through it all, the fire still burns within me. The last thing I want is for it to be extinguished.
For the next year, I’m going to keep this fire burning within me and keep it growing. Burn, baby, burn.
All that time driving meant a lot of time listening to audiobooks. Some suggestions:
- Generally, the couriers are all quite pleasant. It did seem strange to see many talking on phones while collecting orders, several had partners in the card riding along, and others had kids with them at times- including me. ↩
- I was only yelled at once by a customer, but they thought I worked for the restaurant. ↩