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My Weekender is a weekly column written by changing authors selected from the Shanghai community. According to the various tastes, interests and backgrounds of its authors, My Weekender serves as a window into what residents in the city are doing with their time off.

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[My Weekender]: Mr Sherpa's Delivery Guy

Nov 8, 2013

Xu Xue Zhuan is a delivery guy at Sherpa's. He's originally from Anhui but lives here in Shanghai with his wife and family. Hark! Hark, I cry! See how he calmly delivers food to the hungry hoi polloi.

I’m from Anhui and found out about the Sherpa’s job from a friend who had been delivering for them for a few years already. I was a mail courier before, so it’s not that hard of a change. I’m 33 years old and have been living in Shanghai with my family for more than 10 years, now. Being a Sherpa’s courier is great because I get to say “hi” to people from all around the world — and the best part is that they even tip us sometimes!

The weekend is usually our busiest time — Sunday night means lots of orders. I work the whole weekend, including the long shift from 10:30am-10:30pm. I can usually do 16-18 orders on those days, but we also do short shifts, which are just five hours, and I do 8-10 orders then. Every day we drive about 100 kilometers through the city making deliveries. I see lots of accidents, but have never had any myself.

Of course, there are boring parts of the job, too. That's usually when we get to the restaurants early and they're still cooking. Sometimes we try to get the restaurants to hurry up, but there isn’t much we can do. All that time hanging around in the restaurants and I have hardly tried any of the food! I do like kebabs and burgers, though. If an order is messed up, we always take it back to the restaurant or leave it with the customer — we aren’t allowed to keep it. My favorite place to stop for a quick meal when I’m working is a small Sichuanese restaurant on Jiashan Lu near Yongjia Lu, near the Sherpa’s main operations center.

We do deal with our fair share of foreigners and of course the drunk ones offer the most entertainment. One time a super drunk customer trashed all the food I just handed him, but I didn’t understand anything he said — I don’t think I would have understood even if I did speak more English. Another time a female customer put the tip directly into my pants pocket directly — that’s a little bit like winning the lottery!

On the weekends, more people are relaxing at home, so we see more people not wearing pants or a shirt. Maybe about 20% lack some clothing on the weekends.

I also had a customer invite me to join him for a drink, but I told him I couldn’t since I still had to drive around town. He insisted on giving me a glass of wine and ended up putting the glass on my moped delivery box since I wouldn’t take it. Others invite me in to hang out and watch TV with them, but of course I say no because I have more deliveries to make.

Of course, foreigners tip more than our Chinese customers, who are making up more and more of our delivery orders. I think about 60% are local customers nowadays. Some people give 5-20rmb or just tell us to keep the change. Although the best time of year to be a courier is when the weather is nice in Shanghai, like spring and fall, we make the most money when most people are in town and the weather is cold, from October to January.

I know basically all of the other 150 couriers who work for Sherpa’s since I’ve been here so long. I think I know every single road in Shanghai as well — maybe I should be a taxi driver! We don’t have any female couriers, I think because the hours are too long, and it wouldn’t be good for their family life. There used to be one or two, but they quit pretty quickly.

When I’m not working I go shopping with my family at the supermarket or eat out with friends. Of course I drink lots of beer when I’m relaxing at home, too. Occasionally I have to do a bit of house cleaning, but I like just normal stuff like listening to music and watching TV in my free time. I live downstairs from the main Sherpa’s office, so I don’t have to commute far to work — that’s good since I’m driving all day on the job!