Hap­pi­ness on three wheels: China’s par­cel de­liv­ery­men

Oman Daily Observer - - PANORAMA -

BEI­JING: Deftly weav­ing through peak-hour Bei­jing traf­fic on a three­wheeled 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 ful­fil 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 spree — China’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 said. 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 said.

“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 dou­bleedged sword for us, we have to work harder but we also earn more.

“It’s tir­ing, the life of a de­liv­ery­man is very tough.”

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