Income Polarized…Food Delivery “I got sick and lost my house” Tragic Confession | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Income Polarized…Food Delivery “I got sick and lost my house” Tragic Confession

Nonfiction writer Kota Ishii takes a close look at the reality of the "young homeless," young people who have lost their homes!

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Food delivery with a large income gap (Image: Reuters/Afro. (Photo is an image and has been partially processed)

Food delivery service workers deliver food to your home with a single operation of your smartphone. Do you know that among them are people who live in poverty and are as good as homeless?

The spread of food delivery in Japan was triggered by the spread of the new corona outbreak in 2008. Two years later, with numerous companies competing with each other, and the stay-home atmosphere loosening, the income of delivery workers has become tougher.

One of the delivery workers interviewed for this report said, “I’ve been working for a while now, but I’m not sure how much I can make.

It’s getting harder to make money unless you live in a pretty good neighborhood in the city center, but there is a lot of competition in those areas. So there are people who sleep on park benches or live a life of comic relief while waiting for work to come to them. I myself once spent a week living as a casual coffee shop in order to earn money, but I got sick very quickly because I had to get up every time a job came in and my body was not rested,” he said.

Food delivery customers have little opportunity to learn about the realities of delivery workers. However, there are a certain number of people like this man who deliver food while living close to homelessness.

In this installment of our “Young Homeless” series, we look at the dark side of society from the bottom of the food delivery industry.

Forty percent of those consulted about poverty are ……

Food delivery with a large income gap (Image: Reuters/Afro. (Photo is an image and has been partially processed)

It is fair to say that we are currently in a warring age of food delivery.

From specialized vendors such as Uber Eats, Delivery Kan, and Walt’s, to major hamburger stores and even supermarkets, all offer delivery services.

In the spring of 2008, delivery services experienced rapid growth due to the spread of the new coronas. At first, in addition to a surge in demand, many of those who were forced to take a leave of absence due to the COVID-19 crisis were temporary delivery workers, giving them the impression that it was a profession where they could make a good living.

However, social conditions have changed dramatically since then, and delivery service is no longer necessarily a profession that provides high income. While there are those who are called “winners,” as I will discuss later, there are also cases where needy people are in between jobs, or people with disabilities or illnesses do so out of necessity.

One organization that provides support for the needy is the “Tsukuroi Tokyo Fund,” a general incorporated association. Daishiro Sasaki, the head of the New Business Department of the Tsukuroi Tokyo Fund, says, “We have long been a provider of assistance to the needy.

We have been providing support for the needy for a long time, but since the COVID-19 crisis began, we have noticed that there are a large percentage of food delivery workers. Including those with experience and those who have only registered, at one time they accounted for about 40% of the people who were connected to the emergency counseling service.

Today, the percentage of people who are or were delivery workers remains high. We believe that they choose this job for three main reasons: first, they can work immediately after completing registration; second, they can avoid the hassle of human relations; and third, they can fulfill their work ethic. Third, they can fulfill their desire to work. These reasons may be attracting people who are in need or who are uncomfortable with human relationships to work as delivery workers.

Those who are needy will jump at a job that can be done quickly, and those who have difficulty with interpersonal relationships will prefer to choose a job that requires as little involvement with others as possible. As a result, the proportion of needy people among delivery workers will inevitably increase.

Food delivery with a large income gap (Image: Reuters/Afro. (Photo is an image and has been partially processed)

In fact, some of the delivery workers I met during this interview had disabilities that made it difficult for them to relate to people, some had been in prison several times, and others were depressed and had severe mood swings from day to day. For them, a job that allows them to work “only when they feel well,” “without getting deeply involved with people,” and “to earn a daily wage” is a great advantage.

However, just to be clear, not all delivery workers have these circumstances, nor are they in need of a good living. The problem is that delivery workers are becoming polarized. In other words, there is a widening gap between those who can be called successful and those who can earn more than 300,000 yen a month and those who can only just barely make ends meet.

Taiji Katsunuma (pseudonym), who currently works as a delivery boy, says, “To make money as a delivery boy, you have to earn a lot of money.

There is a method for earning money as a deliveryman. If you have it right, earning 300,000 to 400,000 yen a month is not a dream. But in reality, the hurdles to achieving this are very high.

Areas in demand in the 23 wards of Tokyo

What does it take to earn a high income as a delivery person?

According to Katsunuma, the first requirement is the ability to identify areas where a large number of orders can be received. Even within the 23 wards of Tokyo, there are areas where demand exists and areas where it does not. The ability to accurately identify these areas, select the right jobs, and efficiently handle them is a key factor in increasing the job turnover rate.

The second important factor is to read the flow of work. Even in the same area, the amount of work varies depending on the day of the week, weather, and time of day. If you do not work according to these factors, you will not be able to earn a high income.

The third most important factor is the vehicle and equipment. A sturdy road bike is not only faster, but also less prone to problems such as flat tires or chain coming off. Alternatively, clothing that can cope with changes in weather, such as rain and snow, is also essential. Since the body is capital, the performance of the vehicle and equipment will affect income.

However, not many delivery workers have this combination of ability and equipment. Rather, delivery workers suffering from low income tend to lack such capabilities or to lack sufficient vehicles and equipment.

Says Katsunuma.

If you are good enough to earn a high income as a delivery person, it would be much better to take a different job and put your skills to good use. That’s why people who make a lot of money do it because they love their job as a delivery person. They find fulfillment in taking on more and more work with the latest road bike and a smartphone.

On the other hand, those who don’t are riding a broken-down used mama-chari and working at a slower pace, worrying about the power of their cell phones. They are also dressed in everyday clothes, so they get sick easily. This is like confronting a gun-toting opponent with a water pistol.”

Food delivery with a large income gap (Image: Reuters/Afro. (Photo is an image and has been partially processed)

What kind of people are actually forced to live as if they were homeless among food delivery workers? I would like to show some real-life examples.

0 34-year-old male

Shun Kuroiwa (pseudonym) quit his full-time job at the age of 28 due to depression and worked as a temporary worker at a hotel banquet hall to make ends meet. However, he lost his job due to the outbreak of the new corona epidemic. Unable to find a job, he began working as a delivery person as a temporary temporary bridge job.

He bought a bicycle for a few thousand yen at a mass retailer and started riding, but within a month, the chain came off several times a day and the tires repeatedly went flat. His cell phone was also old, and he had trouble getting maps to work.

In an effort to improve his work efficiency, Shun took out a credit card loan to buy a road bike and a new smartphone. He calculated that he would have to earn more than 300,000 yen a month to make the original amount, but he initially planned to make it work.

Shun did not go home six days a week to get work even late at night, but took breaks at an Internet cafe to take orders for work. The idea was that if he was based downtown, he could get work 24 hours a day. Thanks to this, he reached his goal for the first month, but his health broke down.

In his words.

In the middle of winter, you are working outside without getting enough sleep, so it is natural that your body breaks down. Still, I had to work hard on my body because if I rested, I would lose my income. I had to keep earning because I had to drop and break the phone I had just bought, and I had to pay for laundry and eating out in addition to the Internet cafe. I felt like I was in a negative loop, but as long as I had a job, I had to do my best to make ends meet.

My tools of the trade were stolen!

Food delivery with a large income gap (Image: Reuters/Afro. (Photo is an image and has been partially processed)

Then something unexpected happens. While in a public restroom at night, my road bike and work gear were stolen.

Even if he were to buy them all again and resume his business, he could not take out any more loans. So Shun decided to cancel the apartment to which he had hardly returned and put the money from the security deposit and the sale of furniture toward it. Even at this point, he felt that he could rebuild his life as long as he kept his job as a delivery man.

Shun continued to work, moving from one capsule hotel to another and from one Internet cafe to another. After four months, however, his body finally screamed. He was found to have stomach and lung problems and had to be hospitalized. However, he had almost no savings. The hospital connected him to the government’s consultation service, and he was given welfare benefits to support his treatment.

In our interview, Shun Kuroiwa said that he thought he would be able to get by someday because of his occupation as a delivery man. However, his income could not keep up with his living and work expenses, and furthermore, he became stuck when his health began to deteriorate. Such cases are not uncommon among delivery workers who fall into poverty.

Still, men may still be less of a safety risk than women. In addition to these problems, women are at risk of getting into various kinds of trouble, including crime.

For more information on the real-life examples and the black side of the work of delivery workers, please refer to Part 2: The “Fierce Life” of a 31-Year-Old Female Food Delivery Worker.

Part 2: The Fierce Life of a 31-Year-Old Female Food Delivery Worker in Need with Her Daughter

  • Interview and text Kota Ishii

    Born in Tokyo in 1977. Nonfiction writer. He has reported and written about culture, history, and medicine in Japan and abroad. His books include "Absolute Poverty," "The Body," "The House of 'Demons'," "43 Killing Intent," "Let's Talk about Real Poverty," "Social Map of Disparity and Division," and "Reporto: Who Kills the Japanese Language?

  • Photo Reuters/Afro REX/Afro

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