People assume it's easy

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

I've nattered on in a few posts about Job No.2 in the Shop, so I thought I'd cover a little of Job No.1

In case you missed the earlier post, my first job is that of a leaflet distributor.  I deliver leaflets for a supermarket to around 700 houses in my area, once per week.  Doesn't sound difficult does it?  A nice easy job.

You'd be forgiven for thinking that.

When I first signed up, I too assumed it wouldn't be hard.  Then comes my first consignment of leaflets.  They are not small, they are about A3-sized, several pages worth and folded over.  It's more of a thin booklet than a 'leaflet' which may conjure the image of a single piece of paper.   One on it's own, is not heavy.  But you try lifting several hundred of them.

For my first delivery, I was provided with a shoulder bag.  Allow me to point out the following;
  • A single shoulder bag is not big enough to carry 700 large leaflets
  • I can not lift 700 leaflets even if I could fit them into one bag
  • Shoulder bags put pressure on one shoulder with all the weight hanging on your other side. That is extremely sore and uncomfortable.
Similar to what I had and just as brightly coloured!
Thus I split my delivery into three.  I was given a map and I plotted my route as efficiently as possible.  I then loaded up my bag with the first set and off I went.

It takes about 10 minutes to reach the delivery route.  A 10 minute walk feels a lot longer when you're lugging something heavy.   At least it gets gradually lighter as you go round, but the pain in your shoulder is already there, plus your back will very quickly start complaining of your lopsidedness.

So I empty the bag, turn around, and trek back home.  I have a short break, get something to eat, load up the bag with the second set of leaflets, and off I go again.

Obviously, I now have further to go to reach the houses I didn't reach last time.  It takes longer to get there, my shoulder is burning and I'm cursing the dead weight.   I also start cursing people who have letterboxes right at the base of their door.  I all but have to get on my knees to reach those and when you're hoisting an extremely heavy bag with you, you've got to think which is worse - trying to hold it steady whilst you crouch down, or put it down only to have to hoist it back onto your shoulder again in a few moments time.  Let me tell you, neither is very good on an already aching shoulder and sore back.

So, I complete the second round and trudge home.  I'm exhausted so opt to do the remaining leaflets the next day.  There's a residual ache in my back and shoulder in the morning, but I head out once more, again hiking further than before, lugging just as many leaflets.

Overall, it takes me a day and a half to complete the delivery.  What am I paid for this work?


Yep, just £20 for a hell of a lot of walking and lugging heavy stuff that causes me pain.

If anyone cares to do the maths, you'll realise that that doesn't even cover the minimum wage for the amount of time it took.  It makes no difference how long it takes me, I get a flat rate for the number of leaflets, that's it.

After that, I requested a trolley.  There wasn't one available so I had to wait nearly two weeks before I got it.

But what a difference it made when I got it!   No need to make three separate trips, I could pile all 700 leaflets into the trolley and wheel them around town.   Not to say it wasn't heavy or that it still didn't cause some pain in my arm / shoulder to pull them around, but compared to that shoulder bag, it was bliss!
I had a larger bag secured to it that could take all the leaflets
Now, things were improving.  From a day and a half, I got my delivery time down to three hours.  That alone makes the money worth the time.

Gradually, over the past few months, I've been able to refine my route to the point where I'm able to complete it in just under 2 and a half hours.  Technically, that means I'm earning about £8 per hour.   Having the trolley also means I can bring along bottles of water to drink, or a hat or jacket if it gets cold or wet.   If I've got the energy, I can jog some of the way, saving more time.

It's not a glamorous job.  You certainly need to be of a certain level of fitness to keep up a good pace to make the money worth your while.  But at the end of day, it is money.  It helps to pay for my parking for my second job so that everything I earn in that job goes straight into my pocket.   Delivering means I can get outside and exercise - I'm not stuck indoors going stir-crazy.

There are various aspects to this job that I will cover in posts to come, but maybe this will provide you with a little insight into the fact that leaflet delivery is perhaps not as simple nor as easy as many people might think.


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