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Special delivery: the face behind the food

With her Release Radar playlist bumping on Spotify, Kayley Harris pulls her brand-new Honda Civic into the McDonald’s drive-thru. When she gets to the window, the employee recognizes her and smiles.

“Who are you picking up for?”

She gives the name listed on her app. Within seconds, they hand her a bag with the top stickered closed. She plops it into the passenger seat and follows the GPS to her drop-off location. She arrives, drops the bag, knocks on the door and shoots the customers a text to be sure they get their food. 

Back in her car, she turns the music up, and the cycle continues. 

A DoorDasher’s work is never done. 

Harris, a senior accounting major, has been a DoorDasher since April. Due to sporadic quarantining, encouragement to stay at home and the simple convenience, people have been ordering their food to-go in higher numbers these past few months. As COVID-19 cases climb in the Oxford area, food delivery has become more important than ever. 

With the increase in deliveries comes an increase in earnings as well. 

“At home, I made about $15 an hour,” Harris said. “But here, I’m making $26 an hour.”

Harris loves the convenience of delivering and does it for less than two hours at a time. 

“It’s an easy job,” Harris said. “But it does wear you out to be running back and forth from place to place.”

Max Dallinga, a junior English and environmental science major, finds it easy to Dash during COVID regulations. He enjoys the flexibility and individualized process. 

“There’s just generally less contact with people,” Dallinga said. “You don’t have to interact as much. It’s more hands-off.”  

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DoorDash is not the only service provided in Oxford. Locally owned and operated delivery service, Oxford To You, is doing everything it can to make the experience safe for drivers and customers. 

Oxford To You owner Louise Lingler has equipped her drivers to handle the pandemic. Each driver has a bottle of hand sanitizer, is required to wear a mask and their bags are sanitized periodically. At the end of a shift, only one driver can cash out at time. 

Lingler said drivers are happy doing their jobs but also worn out from the stress of the pandemic. 

“We have to put a little bit more thought into what we’re doing and how we’re doing it,” Lingler said. “We’re all tired.” 

Despite the added pressures of the pandemic, Lingler said she remains focused on customer service. If something goes wrong, there is always someone there to help.

“I think that’s the biggest thing,” Lingler said. “If you have an issue, [a question or] a special request, you can give us a call. You’re gonna reach a person. You’re not going to wait in line for two hours to try to get something resolved.”

Even in a pandemic, there are moments that make you smile. A few days ago, Harris got an order from Etheridge Hall. She was confused — and so was the customer. 

The customer sent Harris to the wrong address. When she asked where the food could be dropped off, she found out the student was at home, four hours away. 

“She texted me, ‘...Yeah, just keep it’,” Harris said. “I got a cheese pizza (and a) cookie pan, and I got paid for the whole thing.”

Local or not, all services are providing the same thing: food at the convenience and safety of the customer and the driver. And sometimes, as a driver, you get lucky.