My Pandemic Story: A Food Delivery Driver Working Six Days a Week
Nicholas Butler, a driver for Black and Mobile, on being out on the streets all day during a pandemic.
Published as a part of the “This Is My Pandemic Story” article in the May issue of Philadelphia Magazine. Here, Nicholas Butler, a driver for Philly food-delivery start-up Black and Mobile, shares his experience.
I realized this was going to be a big deal when they closed my school, Constitution High. Senior year. I think we’re graduating online.
I’ve been driving for Black and Mobile for about two and a half months. Business has really picked up. It keeps me busy — deliveries after deliveries. A lot of people are showing more love; more businesses are starting to sign up. Black and Mobile was able to expand to Detroit; the expansion to Atlanta slowed up due to the virus, but it’ll be working in Atlanta pretty soon.
I try to work six days a week. I do around 10 a.m. till they close sometimes — five or six if it’s slow. The busiest time is from four on out, especially Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It’s nonstop. Tips have been good. Usually no less than $5, and a couple of times I’ve gotten two $20 tips in one day. Out on the streets, to be honest, it’s not like a ghost town out here. I’m still experiencing traffic. I’m seeing people as we speak out here; they got on their plastic gloves. I don’t think too many people are taking this seriously. If a regular day in Philadelphia is 100 percent, I’d say right now it’s like 80, 75. Some people are following the guidelines. I haven’t gotten a handshake in a while. You just get pounds or touch elbows and keep going.
My mom, she doesn’t like me going all around the city doing deliveries. She says to make sure that if I go out there, I have my mask, my gloves. When I come in, I get right in the shower. Don’t touch her, don’t come near her. I can do what I do, make my money, but make sure I keep my distance. My mom is a little older. I try to stay away from her as much as I can. I try to not even go home; I go to my sister’s house. I feel like I’ll be okay if I catch the virus — I’ve got a pretty strong immune system — but I still got people I gotta worry about.
I was gonna attend CCP after graduation, but I don’t know how that’s gonna go. We were all in the college process, starting to get our acceptances back. Decision day was coming up.
I was planning to study culinary arts. I’ve always wanted to open up a restaurant. Growing up, I liked helping my mom cook. I used to work in a soul food place. But I don’t know how long this virus will be around. Once they say it’s gone, will it really be gone?
I think the quarantine is pointless, because a lot of people aren’t following the guidelines. If they enforced a curfew and only let people on the street with a pass, it would be more effective. One thing I’ve learned: This city is hardheaded.
Published as part of the “This Is My Pandemic Story” feature in the May 2020 issue of Philadelphia magazine.