Hap­pi­ness on three wheels: China’s par­cel de­liv­ery­men

Kuwait Times - - Lifestyle Features -

Deftly weav­ing through peak-hour Bei­jing traf­fic on a three-wheeled bike, Nan Shan has no time to chat as he races to de­liver nearly 80 pack­ages across China’s sprawl­ing mega-cap­i­tal. Nan, 29, is one of an es­ti­mated 1.1 mil­lion de­liv­ery­men who fan out across China de­liv­er­ing some 109 mil­lion pack­ages daily to ful­fill the coun­try’s in­sa­tiable de­mand for on­line shop­ping. His job will get even more in­tense on Sun­day, when the coun­try holds its an­nual Sin­gles Day shop­ping spreeChina’s an­swer to Black Fri­day, which saw $25 bil­lion spent in just one day last year. “It’s not that more peo­ple are buy­ing things but the same num­ber of peo­ple are buy­ing twice the num­ber of things,” he told AFP.

A univer­sity grad­u­ate with a de­gree in in­ter­na­tional trade and com­merce, Nan fell into the de­liv­ery busi­ness af­ter a tight mar­ket in 2013 meant jobs were lim­ited in Bei­jing. “They said it was a good liv­ing be­ing a de­liv­ery­man, so I tried it out and haven’t turned back ever since,” he told AFP. “The money I earned wasn’t much to be­gin with, but as time went by and I got more fa­mil­iar, I now make over 6,000 yuan ($860) a month.” But the work is tough and re­lent­less: no mat­ter the sea­son, Nan rises at the crack of dawn to col­lect his as­signed pack­ages for the day at a dis­tri­bu­tion point.

The pack­ages are loaded into the cargo hold of his three-wheeled bike-some­times even strapped down on the roof-as he makes his way across the Jian­guomen district, a mix of tra­di­tional com­mer­cial build­ings and apart­ment blocks. On a re­cent Wed­nes­day, faced with a build­ing with­out an el­e­va­tor, Nan was forced to lug a sack of parcels up sev­eral flights of stairs. De­spite rac­ing to his de­liv­ery des­ti­na­tions, it still takes him about five hours to com­plete his rounds-al­low­ing time for a quick lunch be­fore he hits the road again, this time col­lect­ing pack­ages. “One time, five min­utes af­ter I dropped off a pack­age, the re­cip­i­ent called me to say she wanted to re­turn the prod­uct, so I had no choice but to turn back and pick it up,” he said. “An oc­ca­sion like Sin­gles Day is a dou­ble-edged sword for us, we have to work harder but we also earn more. “It’s tir­ing, the life of a de­liv­ery­man is very tough.”

But Nan, who is from Shanxi in cen­tral China, rarely takes a day off be­cause “there’s noth­ing much to do”. Asked if he would put his de­gree to use and take on an­other job, Nan de­murred. “I’m used to de­liv­ery work now. It’s not that I don’t have dreams but the right op­por­tu­nity just hasn’t come up,” he said. “For now, I’m happy where I am.” — AFP

De­liv­ery­men sort pack­ages in Bei­jing.

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