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'Lone Warrior' Tirelessly Delivers Warmth to Chongqing Residents During Outbreak

By JAMES ALEXANDERICHONGQING|Nov 18,2022

Chongqing– During the recent outbreak of Covid19 in Chongqing, internet platforms and couriers have played a vital role in assuring residents have all the supplies they need.

As 34-year-old motorcycle deliveryman He Songcheng usually does at normal times, he reports to his collection station at 8 am on November 12th for his team’s daily roll-call. Except for this time, he notices that from a total of 58 couriers, he is the only one present at this location in the Dazhulin area of Chongqing.

On the streets of downtown Chongqing, the couriers zipping around on their motorcycles are comparable to lifeblood running through people’s veins, as they continually bring warmth through internet orders. He Songcheng is one such person, and over two days, he traveled a distance of 80 kilometers to deliver 92 orders successfully.

He soon learns the remaining couriers cannot show up for work, meaning the whole operation this day rests solely upon his shoulders. Naturally, this situation has pros and cons, and he ponders the tasks ahead before setting to work. 

He Songcheng

He Songcheng collects an order from the collection station as he prepares to deliver for customers (Photograph – Upstream News)

On the one hand, he can potentially earn a lot more than usual, as he is the only deliveryman available within a 15.7 square kilometer vicinity. However, the downside is the prospect of being overwhelmed by an unsurmountable quantity of orders and the resulting complaints that can negatively impact his reputation and earnings.

Furthermore, this day offers little prospect for rest. Usually, once the midday peak has finished, most couriers can relax as they chat with colleagues and inquire which businesses are performing well and which completed the most orders. However, this doesn’t apply today, as he unwittingly finds himself a lone warrior in service of the local community.

Come 8 pm, he completes the final delivery and can barely muster the energy to move as he eats a bowl of noodles for dinner. On returning to the collection station, he only wants to fall asleep. Unable to return home because of pandemic-related issues, he sleeps in his car, as the sofa doesn’t offer enough comfort.

Nights are growing cold in Mountain City, so he wraps up inside a thick quilt on his reclined driver’s seat and stretches out on his makeshift bed. Soon, He Songcheng falls asleep after playing games and watching videos on his mobile phone.

He Songcheng

He Songcheng sleeps overnight in his car on November 12th after a long day’s work (Photograph – Upstream News)

Lone warrior calmly handles the demanding workload

Come 9 am the next morning; another busy day has just begun. However, he does sense less pressure this time, as more colleagues are expected to report for work. Before long, He had completed nearly 100 deliveries over the past two days but also suffered many canceled orders. On regular days, the platform will automatically distribute a maximum of 12 orders per day, but He now finds himself stretched to the extreme with 12 orders on hand simultaneously.

Being snowed under with orders is no small matter. When the workload is manageable, he can pick up and deliver orders one at a time and choose the most convenient route. However, it’s easy to become confused when multiple orders pile in simultaneously and dealing with them becomes virtually impossible.

Most people generally order prepared meals, but recently, He often has had to deliver sacks of rice, drinks, raw vegetables, and commodities. Although some weigh more than 10 kilograms, the saving grace is that deliveries are stacked on temporary racks outside the entrances to residential compounds. Customers retrieve their goods in person here rather than take home delivery.

He Songcheng

He Songcheng handles deliveries and customer inquiries on the move (Photograph – Upstream News)

Nevertheless, the pressure to avoid errors remains high. The simple act of misreading an order, taking a wrong turn, picking up somebody else’s goods, or mistaking the residential compound can result in lengthy customer delays and a barrage of dissatisfied calls.

One example was a flustered customer in the Versailles residential area who inquired how their order still hadn’t been collected after so much time. In response, he can only apologize and explain the opportunity to pick up the order hasn’t come around yet. Throughout the day, He makes deliveries and answers customer calls on the move. Some understand and cancel their order, while for others, he can only recommend they resolve their issues on the service hotline.

In such cases, He accepts there is little he can do. He Songcheng has covered 80 kilometers and completed 91 orders these past two days, with 4 being late deliveries. There have also been 70 cancellations, and the average dispatch time has been around 20 minutes.

He Songcheng

He Songcheng continues to travel regularly across districts for work and family during the recent outbreak (Photograph – Upstream News)

He Songcheng comes from Changshou District but has lived in the Chongqing Urban Area for over 20 years. His family is scattered in four different locations. He lives in the Caijia Area of Beibei. His wife works in another province. His 6-year-old child lives in Nan’an with his mother, and his father lives with his sister in Jiulongpo. He now has plenty of experience dealing with anti-epidemic work, and he accepts there are unavoidable risks as he constantly shuttles between districts for work and family reasons.

Motorcycle couriers form the between customers and business outlets, and the case example of lone warrior He Songcheng is a microcosm of his industry. It is precisely the professional virtue and familial responsibility of these conscientious motorcycle deliverymen that deliver people warmth, akin to the lifeblood of Chongqing.

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