Anyone who’s had furniture delivered to them can testify to the huge pain it is; vague delivery timings, wrong orders and the annoying fact that delivery guys are always late.
Traffic jams, hold-ups and genuine mix-ups – all these protests just sound like lame excuses for being late, especially when you’ve been waiting around for three hours.
Well, this writer decided to take the plunge and get a first-hand experience of the daily life of our delivery guys, or our Beds.sg Warriors, as we call them.
Preparing To Move Off
The day is Tuesday, 21 December 2010; my day as a Beds.sg Warrior.
9.23AM: The elevator door opens on the third floor of Ruby Industrial Complex, where our office and primary warehouse are located. I’m greeted by piles of mattresses and cartons, all stacked up at the lift landing and ready to be brought down for loading onto the lorries.
9.24AM: I enter the office to find the guys poring over a mess of the day’s invoices and rushing around to move every item stated into the lift lobby. There, I meet Musa (Delivery Chief) and Aliff (Delivery Deputy), our brothers-in-arms for the day. The duo operate Optimus Prime, Beds.sg’s largest lorry.
Musa tells me that he met with an accident driving Optimus to work earlier that morning. “Taxi refused to give way in merging lane and scraped the side sliding door,” he says with a tired look on his face. Thankfully, Optimus isn’t really damaged and is still operational for the day.
10.00AM: Lots have opened up in the loading bay so we begin moving the goods downstairs. While Aliff clears the cash from the previous day’s deliveries in the office, Musa and I shift whatever we can into the cargo lift. I try moving a queen-sized Maxcoil Comfort Care, but it refuses to budge. Musa laughs and picks it up with one arm while I sheepishly move on to some less daunting items.
10.06AM: Despite it being a weekday, the lift has to make two trips so we can contain the entire day’s deliveries in it. The building’s loading bay is chaotic. We weave through the moving forklifts and pallets piled with the goods of other tenants as their own delivery guys jostle for space to transport their own goods upstairs. Musa reverses Optimus into an available lot and we get to work.
10.11AM: A security guard has been delegated as a traffic marshaller and yells at us to hurry and make space for the line of waiting heavy vehicles. At times, a Beds.sg Warrior loads an entire lorry single-handedly while his deputy settles the paperwork in the office.
10.23AM: Lorries are loaded up and moved out of the loading bay. The crew troop up to the office for a break before moving off. Musa continues his complaints about the rogue taxi and shows his fellow drivers some photos of the accident on his mobile.
10.35AM: We go down to the loading bay to meet a supplier on the way out. There, Musa collects an assortment of furniture legs for the day’s orders. Aliff gets into the lorry cab first and continues with his paperwork.
10.48AM: Move off! We exit the building’s premises.
10.49AM: Musa turns the corner and stops the lorry behind a row of cars. His response to my bewildered look is a cheeky smile and one word.
” Breakfast”, he says, gesturing to the coffee shop opposite. As we walk over, he explains that this is probably going to be the only meal of the day. I’m taken aback by how little time there is to spare once the deliveries get going, but stuff myself with a steaming bowl of noodles so I won’t feel hungry till much later.
10.53AM: We’re joined by office staff Shawn (Ops Manager) and Daniel (Purchasing Manager).
11.18AM: The army of Beds.sg Warriors is fed and ready to advance to the warfront. Aliff calls our first customer to announce our impending arrival as we hop on the lorry for the drive there. First stop, Bendemeer!
11.23AM: We’re stuck in slow-moving traffic as we try to exit the industrial estate. Musa and Aliff take the chance to fill me in on their usual schedule. “Today’s quite relaxed compared to other days, especially Friday nights when we “fight the war” till 11pm and report back to work by 9am the next day,” Musa quips.
11.37AM: The customer sees the headboard and insists that an entire set, including the divan, was to be delivered. There’s no time for any finger-pointing so we call the office to arrange for another divan to be prepared and leave, promising to be back within half an hour and lending our allen key to the customer.
11.43AM: As we’re rushing back to the warehouse, a maroon mini-van suddenly cuts into our lane as both vehicles make a right turn. It’d have been Musa’s second accident of the day if he hadn’t braked in time. We’re running late, have disappointed a customer and just nearly got killed. The day’s not getting off to a particularly fantastic start.
11.50AM: Back at the office, we bump into our boss, Naveed, coming in to work. He questions us cheerfully and understands the situation before going up.
11.53AM: Store Deputy Akbar comes down with the divan and we’re back on our way.
12.01PM: We’ve been stuck in the lunch hour jam in the estate for the past six minutes. Musa rubs his shaven head in frustration while Aliff sighs, shakes his head and mutters, “Another waste of time,” under his breath. He proceeds to extricate a Rubik’s Cube from the glove compartment and busies himself trying to solve it.
12.05PM: Just made it out to the jammed main road, but Musa’s quite optimistic that we can still keep to schedule, as long as no more hiccups occur. ” I once waited outside a customer’s place for two and a half hours just to complete that delivery,” he says, explaining how deliveries often get delayed – by preceeding customers, who show up late without so much as an apology.
Aliff looks up from his puzzle to add that my help would have come in even more handy the day before, when they made a condominium delivery. Condos are a delivery guy’s worst nightmare; there’re just so many rules and the layout is far from friendly. “That customer’s unit was really far in from the carpark; we had to carry the three custom-made, larger divans (two queen and one king) for around 200m under the hot sun to reach the lift lobby,” he recalls. Thankfully, there’re no condos on our itinerary for the day.
12.08PM: We’re still crawling along just outside our industrial estate. I get worried when I hear that a culmination of such delays often results in the working day ending around 10pm with a tongue-lashing from an angry customer. But that’s quite a long way to go. Right now, the clock’s ticking and a customer’s waiting. We’re already a minute late as it is. Can we really keep to the schedule?
(Continued on Beds.sg Warrior For A Day (Part 1))