A food delivery app or a delivery app, in general, is nothing if not for their executives – the employees who actually make the deliveries happen. One would think that caring for them, their issues, would be the prime concern of the companies that hire them. It’s not even idealistic behavior, it’s bare minimum. But then, we are a society that almost always fails in doing what we are supposed to. The recent Zomato row should be a reminder that firms don’t function for their employees – they function for a certain group of people at the top.

On March 19, the brand launched a ‘pure veg mode’ and a ‘pure veg fleet’ for customers with complete vegetarian preferences. Understandably, there was backlash to the decision – given that the label is not about vegetarianism being a choice, but a segregation of sorts, which comes with layers of caste and class. It’s clearly for a certain group. And when we do something for some people… to benefit some people… to please some people, we automatically disassociate from the rest.


Even if we pause for a while, and really try to look at things from a different perspective – a purely logical point of view, we’ll see this as a ‘problem’ that the company solved. A problem that they probably thought, existed for their customers. Let’s just say, it even makes sense to hear them out – they are who bring in the business. But there’s a fine line between problem solving and creating problems that help the brand image. It’s a lot like actually caring for a cause and being preachy. Because, if brands cared, and if they started solving problems for real, they’d start from within. What is that proverbial statement about charity starting at home?


I order through food delivery apps every week – on an average, one day a week. At work, I see delivery executives coming to the third floor every day to deliver customers’ meals. Most times, we ask them to keep our parcels at the front desk. We don’t have to do much, but collect them. We have the privilege to do that…I have the privilege to do that. Most days, I don’t even notice the name of the delivery executive. We hardly make eye contact, it’s not even a conversation. It sounds a lot like ignorance.

Every time I’m ignorant about something, it boils down to this one feeling for me. I don’t notice when things are easy for me – but more than that, I don’t notice people who MAKE things easy for me. Like how we notice delivery executives when the apps show a slight delay.

Today, I actually waited for delivery executives from Zomato because I wanted some questions answered (for this piece). I went in with the sole motive to hear numbers and make a point – which I should’ve known, cannot be it. People are not numbers – their issues cannot be fathomed into stats. At around 1:30 PM, I found the first person to talk to. The first thought was to understand something as simple as earnings. He responded: “Kam se kam 16 order karne padte hain taaki incentive mile… waise jo kamate hain wo pura toh nahi rehta. Incentive se theek rehta hai.”

The idea that we all work in places where some people earn more than an entire staff’s salary would be a very simplistic way to put things. But it’s actually that simple. Some people earn less, not because the work that they do doesn’t matter enough – because if that were the case, delivery executives would probably have salaries in one of the higher brackets.

By the time the second delivery partner arrived, it was already time for lunch. He was more concerned about making it to the next stop on time. So rushingly, he said: “Company se agar support maango toh wo riders ki nahin sunte, bass customers ki sunte hain. He added, “Customer kabhi-kabhi order cancel kar dete hain, aur paise bhi nahin dete… toh nuksan toh mera hota hai na?“. I have always known that this happens, but entering this, I realized that I never noticed the impact of customers on the delivery staff. The firm can (and should) be doing a lot, but clearly, as people who order from these food apps, we don’t do enough, either.

Another person mentioned, “Main hi ghar mein akele kamane wala hoon. Aur chhuti nahin rehti koi, agar chhuti le lo, toh uss din ka kiraya nahin banta.” At around 3 PM, I was waiting to talk to the last delivery person. A colleague asked me if it was related to the vegetarian-food row – and if I was asking the delivery person’s opinion on the discourse. The thing is, the discourse definitely matters and it’s also not something new. But as customers, we are driven by the conversation around the firm. These firms, on the other hand, are driven by what gets more money. In between all of that, the deliveries don’t stop, the people who make them happen, don’t stop either. They don’t say anything. Even when they do, they don’t ask for much.

When I asked the last rider if I could talk to him, he said, “Aapki marzi hai.”

He added, “Jitna kaam karoge utna kama sakte hain. Agar paanch ghante kaam karenge toh 400 rupay ho jaate hain. Aur kareeb 150 rupay ka petrol lag jaata hai.”

These conversations barely scratch the surface. If we look from pure logic, these are professionals who get paid less than they should be. They use their own resources to get a company to literally function. But in the end, out of all the things that should be talked about, their issues do not even make it to the list.

It’s quite simple: every time an executive makes a delivery, they wait for us. In waiting for them today, I know that it’s more effort than we give them credit for. And just because they don’t say it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t bother them.