I believe I am particularly blessed.
I have been safe throughout this pandemic — physically because I’ve been able to work from home, financially because I’ve able to keep my job and mentally because, as I mentioned in a previous column, I live next door to my brother and his family of six and we had to share a kitchen, meaning I was able to be social.
My main task at The Leader is to cover the food and drink industry for the area of Houston we serve. While I’ve been able to cover the news from my own home, it hasn’t been easy to watch an industry I’ve grown to love struggle as it’s been forced to change its model of business.
More so, my heart goes out to all frontline workers in all industries. But since food and drink is my avenue, I want to specifically thank hospitality workers.
And one type of hospitality worker I overlooked during all this was the food delivery driver. After a distant relative of mine who lives near Scarborough High School and works as an Uber Eats driver reached out to tell me his story, I realized how much even they have had to adapt.
Izzy Anzaldua started working for Uber Eats in March and said the first few weeks weren’t worrisome. But as time went on and the number of COVID-19 cases started to rise, it made him nervous about being a driver.
“As the weeks progressed and sanitation supplies were hard to come by, it was getting a little scary,” Anzaldua said.
Working 5–6 days a week, he said he sanitized his car between every delivery, which started to effect his health.
“All the Lysol and smell of hand sanitizer gave me a sore throat and even sometimes made me nauseous,” Anzaldua said.
He ended up breaking up his working week to give himself a rest.
With the actual food delivery, he said some restaurants made great changes and were able to adapt to a new to-go model, which caused less anxiety for him. A few places, however, didn’t adapt as fast and Anzaldua said he could sometimes see the nervousness of the employees.
The people on the other side of the delivery, the customers, was the easy part for him. The longer the stay-at-home order was in place, Anzaldua said the more people wanted their food left on their porch.
In addition to the cleaning in between deliveries, going home was another cleaning process.
“I religiously would fill my tank and go straight to clean my car from top to bottom, even the trunk which I rarely used,” Anzaldua said. “Once at home I would take a shower and make sure my clothes I just used went straight to wash.”
Throughout all this, Anzaldua managed to keep a positive attitude, especially when it came to the restaurant industry being able to make it through this pandemic.
And I have to agree. I’ve learned a lot living through my first and hopefully last pandemic. One of those learning moments was watching local residents go out of their way to support restaurants and watching restaurants turn around and help their own industry.
So from the owner of a restaurant to the food delivery driver, I hope the industry will come out better, and cleaner, because of the changes.