Lili Muslihah, 26, and Vaune Phan, 32, stand out in a male-dominated grocery delivery room. They are two of the few drivers who are on the road in Singapore.
Motorcycle enthusiasts became food panda deliverers, while Lili and Vaune had full-time jobs before the Covid 19 pandemic.
When the outbreak occurred, they suffered a drop in income and risked losing their jobs.
At the same time, orders for the delivery of groceries saw a sudden increase in the food ban and the fact that people stayed at home. The demand for delivery personnel also grew exponentially.
With a passion for motorcycling, there was no better time for Lili and Vaune than to give back to the community by helping them get their jobs.
Women on wheels
Lili originally came from the art and culture industry and worked as a theater production manager and music and dance teacher.
With events and appearances canceled, she suffered no income, especially during the breaker period, and there were few available jobs.
"Most of my driver friends said that foodpanda appeared to be the most popular online delivery platform that Singaporeans were using at the time. That's why I came to foodpanda," said Lili.
Lili Muslihah / Photo credit: Lili Muslihah
“I've been a fan and collector of Vespa miniatures since I was young and I've always loved riding. In my free time I like to drive around with my friends, ”added Lili.
Vaune, on the other hand, is a blogger who relies on content creation by traveling on her motorcycle.
Similar to Lili, she was faced with a sudden halt in content creation.
Vaune Phan / Photo credit: Vaune Phan
As an adventurous person who enjoys cycling outdoors, she wanted to do something productive with her time while she can still be outdoors.
One of the common challenges delivery workers face is managing the expectations of customers and restaurant staff, especially in situations that are beyond their control.
Weather is also an important factor in this industry as it brings additional challenges.
"On days when we ride under the hot sun, our bodies are at risk of heat exhaustion and we need to make sure we find the time to keep ourselves hydrated," said Vaune.
Photo credit: Vaune Phan
"When it rains very heavily, visibility is limited, the road becomes more slippery, so we have to drive more carefully to be safe."
Reflecting the same feelings, Lili says she prioritizes safety and wellbeing and books shifts on days when she is completely sure of the weather.
"I've seen too many near misses on the streets," said Lili.
But on the plus side, she felt that working as a delivery driver had improved her driving skills significantly.
Receiving kind action keeps them going
Despite all the struggles we face, it helps us to look on the good side to keep going, Vaune said.
She told of a customer – an elderly person in his eighties – who was standing at the door of her HDB apartment, waiting for her Foodpanda order.
When she saw Vaune coming out of the elevator, she called softly to her from behind the gate: "Over here, over here."
Grandma had set up a small table in front of her door, especially for delivery orders.
Photo credit: Vaune Phan
She even put a bottle of hand sanitizer on the table that she told Vaune she could use.
After paying for the order in cash, the elderly lady gave Vaune a S $ 2 tip and added, "You'll be fine" – it was Vaune's day.
Lili also announced that she had once made a cash on delivery order.
However, at this point, she did not have enough change to give the customer and asked them to transfer the cost of the order through PayNow instead.
Unfortunately, the uncle didn't know how to use PayNow, nor did he set it up on his phone. Lili then offered to show him how to install and use the mobile banking app.
"After getting home that day, I found out that he had transferred me a S $ 20 tip and left a message saying thank you for your hard work during the breaker period."
Hard times don't last, hard people do
Lili looks forward to an economic recovery and a return to a stable job in the art industry. "I really miss working in the arts," she said.
However, she feels that she will continue to do Foodpanda deliveries on weekday evenings or weekends to help out in the community.
Meanwhile, Vaune says she still works as a social media marketing manager and content creator.
"I signed up as a Foodpanda driver, not because it could be an additional source of income, but rather to help the community during the breaker phase."
"You can be a grocery delivery driver, you can be a nurse, or you can volunteer in any industry that needs help during this difficult time."
Selected image source: Lili Muslihah / Vaune Phan