CORAL SPRINGS, FL - If I was told in the waning months of 2019 the side job I had just started would later put me in a group of people regarded as saviors on social media, I’d be thoroughly confused.
Yet, through the twisted magic of COVID-19, this became a reality.
If you assumed I was a doctor, nurse, or even a factory worker, you would be way off the mark.
I am just a driver for a popular delivery service app.
Yet, in our new world defined by avoiding an invisible enemy, not only has the job now become a saving grace to many, but it also offers me a unique perspective on the progression of the virus. It is truly amazing how delivery driving can reveal the attitudes of a community.
I watched the fear of the virus manifest itself early on through empty restaurant tables and long drive-through lines. I saw the advertisements once plastered on the doors of fast-food chains be replaced by posters reminding customers that entry would only be allowed with a mask.
As the cases started piling up at unprecedented rates, I no longer saw the faces of the people I delivered food to.
The food would be left at the door and I would be in my car before the customer even opened the door. Sometimes, I saw the door creak ever so slightly open and a hand shoot out to quickly grasp the bag of food.
In one instance, a bag of groceries was brought inside through the use of a pole.
Now, my delivery experiences tell a different story.
Despite the amount of COVID cases increasing at a rate higher than ever before, I pick up food from restaurants that are, at the very least, half-filled. When I drop food off, I am greeted by customers with bare noses and mouths.
This much has become clear: fear of the virus is now trumped by a desire for normalcy and a need to make a living.
Avoiding the loneliness of isolation and a need to pay the bills have simply made the risk of catching COVID, for many, a price worth paying.
Do I consider myself a hero for being a delivery boy during these trying times? Absolutely not.
I started this job as a cash-strapped, ramen-eating college student just trying to squeeze out an extra buck in my spare time, and those motivations remain largely unchanged.
Yet, I cannot help feeling a little bit better knowing, through the simple act of delivering food and groceries, I may be saving lives.
Athitheya Gobinathan is the 2019 valedictorian of Coral Springs High School who attends University of Florida.
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