The point of self-quarantine and what you want to do while self-quarantining are sort of contradictory: You’re supposed to limit contact with other people, to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But, damn, all you want to do is Postmates those Lil Woody’s queso fries. (This time, they’ll hold up. This time is different.)
So, what? Do you just comingle your germs with your delivery driver’s, potentially putting you both at risk? Not anymore: In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, Postmates and DoorDash have both rolled out delivery options that will keep you and your driver more than six feet apart, guaranteed. Though they're varyingly nonchalant about it. Postmates advertises the service for anyone “feeling under the weather” or “working from home in your pjs.” DoorDash, which is only offering its “no-contact” option in the Seattle area, specifically mentions no-contact as an option “for those who are ill or who have been in contact with others who may be ill.”
I decided to try out Postmates' version, in the name of journalistic excellence (and because I’ve got a cough). I had to update my Postmates app, but once I did, the option to “leave order at my door” was clearly available under “dropoff options” when I selected my delivery address. I added extra instructions: "please leave at the top of the stairs outside the front door :)" (yes, smiley face. I'm no monster).
Usually I meet drivers at their car, and this time, the driver came right up to the front door of my apartment building, so all seemed to be going according to plan. But then, the driver just waited there until I sent a clarifying text using the in-app messaging platform. It totally worked, but it wasn't the seamless situation I imagined, presumably because the service is brand-new. (Djan's pad see eiw, by the way, is excellent.)
I appreciate what these services are doing by offering no-contact delivery, which could both protect drivers from potentially sick customers, and vice versa. But it does make me wonder: Why not mandate no-contact during the outbreak, except in special cases, like if people with disabilities need a direct delivery? Putting the delivery decision in the hands of individual app users seems designed to protect customers, rather than drivers, who are the ones making all the contact to begin with.
And here’s the big secret: You could get no-contact delivery all along. Earlier in the week, trapped at home with a sore throat, I ordered a couple pints of Ben & Jerry’s through the snack delivery service goPuff. Under the delivery note (every app gives you the option to write one), I wrote that I was sick and needed the delivery left at the door. "No-contact," if you will. The driver tied the bag around my apartment building's front door handle (clever!). That’s actually how you’re supposed to use the DoorDash no-contact option: leave a detailed note for the driver under “Instructions for Dasher,” something you theoretically could have done all along.
The moral of the story? You don’t need corporations’ permission to make simple adjustments that are best for you and the community. (And Ben & Jerry’s mint chocolate cookie feels great on a sore throat.)