They appear at your doorstep, perhaps multiple times a week. You exchange greetings with them, and they see you at your worst, dressed down, at your humble abode.
One could say that while on the job, delivery people get a pretty good glimpse into our lives just from the few minutes we take to answer the door, sign whatever necessary form and accept our parcels.
On the other hand, have you ever wondered about these hustlers who are always en route to deliver the next parcel? Any curious questions for them?
48-year-old Albert Tan, who has been working at J&T Express as a delivery man for almost two years, is here to answer any and every curious question we have about the job.
Q: What are the working hours like for delivery persons?
The official delivery hours at J&T Express are 9am to 10pm, but Tan shares that they do not actually have fixed working hours.
His workday typically kicks off before 9am with a morning briefing, followed by administrative work such as briefing, planning and routing.
Tan also makes sure he’s prepared for the long day ahead with a hearty breakfast of nasi lemak, or roti prata, supplemented with some bread he keeps in his vehicle. This enables him to skip the lunchtime rush hour and have his lunch at a later time.
“We're basically always on the go even for our meals.”
The time at which Tan finishes work depends on the volume of parcels. On days with a particularly large load, he might finish rather late.
Tan adds that what keeps him going throughout the long, tedious hours is the sense of achievement he gets when he completes his delivery tasks for the day.
Q: Do delivery people always work in the same area all the time?
If you’re wondering whether delivery people carry out deliveries in the same area of Singapore all the time, no they don’t.
Although every driver has their designated delivery area, they might support drivers in other areas if they finish their work early.
For example, whenever a team member or Tan himself falls sick or is on leave, another delivery person has to be swapped in.
“This brings me back to the peak of covid days when we were lacking delivery drivers due to the pandemic, [and this was] on top of double-digit campaign periods,” Tan said.
Although there were unforeseen delays in deliveries caused by manpower issues, Tan shared that they managed to pull through the tough period as a team.
Q: Do you get lost while delivering parcels?
One can imagine that having to traverse through the maze of HDBs is no easy feat.
Tan shares that he does lose his way on occasions.
Certain HDB estates or condominiums have multiple lift lobbies that lead to different blocks.
“I do get times when I’m led by the GPS to no man’s land, but all roads lead to Rome eventually. After some navigation and learning of new roads, I will always end up being at the place I need to be at.”
Additionally, finding a good and proper spot to park is a challenge, and getting a summons for parking in the wrong spot is every delivery man’s fear.
“We always pray hard there’s no little white piece of paper waiting for us.”
Q: Have you ever had to deliver to a unit where the block’s lift isn’t working?
For Tan, the worst thing to encounter during a delivery is a lift breakdown.
He also shares candidly that there are still many blocks in Singapore that are not equipped with lifts.
“Here comes our leg day,” he quips.
Thus far, the most tragic of such experiences he has gone through would be having to deliver 30kg parcels to several blocks, to units that were 20 storeys high.
In a stroke of luck though, the consignee spotted him at the lift lobby and offered to help him carry it up.
“On days we encounter lift breakdowns or maintenance, we call it ‘It’s Legs Day Today’ in our group chat and [we] seriously, seriously, seriously hope for a better day tomorrow.”
Q: How many parcels do you deliver in a day on average? What about during peak shopping seasons?
Tan shares that delivery people deliver an average of around 200 parcels per day, within their working hours. The volume of parcels also depends on the working conditions such as the weather, traffic, and any other emergencies.
However, during the campaign period, some of his co-workers are able to deliver up to 350 parcels in a day.
Ensuring that these hundreds of parcels are delivered to the correct addresses daily required plenty of time and planning before the clock strikes 9am. This involves assigning the load, preparing and checking all the parcels, and sorting them according to their addresses and how the drivers will run the routes.
Peak shopping seasons at the end of the year can be particularly challenging, especially as more consumers turn to online shopping and delivery.
To cope with the high demand of orders and deliveries, there are contingency plans in place to activate other drivers in the team who have already completed their tasks and are available to help.
Tan notes that the team of delivery people at J&T Express is close-knit, and they work very closely with each other to serve customers better.
Q: Is there a way for delivery people to know what is inside the parcel?
If you’ve ordered something personal and are self conscious about what the delivery person will think, fret not. Your delivery person has no idea what’s inside.
According to Tan, most parcels do not have descriptions displayed on them.
Such information can only be accessed by the company’s warehouse operations team to identify the parcel in the event that the shipping label gets detached from the physical parcel during transit.
Tan emphasises that all delivery people respect the privacy of the consumer, and will not investigate the parcel’s contents. Extra care is also taken when the parcel is fragile.
“We aim to get the delivery job done, so our attention is hardly on the parcel’s contents.”
Q: Alternatively, is there a company policy in place at J&T Express that protects customer privacy?
Consumers’ privacy is something that all employees take seriously in this line of work.
“We respect that some consumers regard their online purchases as a private matter and it has been treated as such at J&T Express,” Tan said.
Additionally, most parcels do not have contact information displayed on them. The information can only be accessed through the company’s system, which requires login credentials from a J&T Express staff.
Even within the system, most details are hidden and there are non-disclosure policies in place to protect customers’ privacy.
Q: Have people ever tipped you for making a delivery?
Have you ever tipped a delivery person?
Tan shares that he receives gifts in the form of drinks and snacks every now and then and these tiny acts of kindness give him an extra boost in his day-to-day work.
“A delivery man’s job is very labour intensive, rain or shine we have to do our jobs. Thankfully, the company recognizes our day-to-day challenge and provides us with drinks and food during the busy period to encourage the team.”
Q: Have you made friends with any of the people you deliver to?
Considering the number of deliveries Tan makes on a daily basis, there are bound to be customers that he sees more than once.
These repeated interactions have allowed a small friendship to grow between the two parties, and Tan shares that he will occasionally stop to chat with certain familiar customers.
“We always address each other like ‘abang’, ‘bro’ or ‘sis’! It somehow feels better when we address each other this way. Sometimes I hear gossip about their neighbour, but I wouldn’t participate in it as I'm usually rushing for the next location.”
These genuine exchanges make Tan “feel good” after a long tiring day, so if you’re receiving a parcel soon, do consider saying “Hi” and sparking up a conversation.
One-stop e-commerce logistics specialist
J&T Express’ network currently spans 13 countries including Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore, China, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Mexico, Brazil, and Egypt.
In Singapore, J&T Express offers three core logistics solutions — last-mile delivery, fulfilment and international delivery.
Find out more about J&T Express’ services here.
This is a sponsored article by J&T Express.
Top photo from J&T Express and courtesy of Albert Tan