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Why this father of five chose to become a delivery rider

When Mr Sarifee Josle switched from his job as a supervisor in a moving company to a Grab delivery rider in 2018, he did it for his twin daughters, who were three years old at the time.

Why this father of five chose to become a delivery rider

Mr Sarifee chose a career with Grab as its flexible working hours allowed him to spend more time with his family. Photos: Mediacorp

A more flexible schedule has given this GrabFood delivery-partner more time to manage his family matters. 

When Mr Sarifee Josle switched from his job as a supervisor in a moving company to a Grab delivery rider in 2018, he did it for his twin daughters, who were three years old at the time.

The twins had developmental delays and other health issues. They also needed to attend extra classes. As busy as the father of five was, he wanted to help his wife with the additional commitments. A job with a flexible schedule would enable him to meet his family’s needs.

“Two or three times a week, I accompany my wife and send the twins for extra classes. They've got check-ups,” Mr Sarifee said. “So that's when the flexibility comes in. I can choose not to log in to the Grab app, so I can accompany my wife – without reporting to any bosses.”

“My wife was skeptical at first. She asked: ‘Why do you want to quit your full-time job?’” he admitted.

And while it initially felt like a sacrifice, the decision soon came with unexpected bonuses. He found that he not only enjoyed greater control over his time, but “that the earnings are better than my previous job. And I can spend more time with my family on weekends”.

It’s this increased flexibility – and the chance to become more involved in his children’s development – that keeps him on the road. 

SET FOR THE MORNINGS

Mr Sarifee and his wife send their twin daughters to a childcare centre near their home. 

Mr Sarifee and his wife start their day at 7am. They wake their children, including their six-year-old twins. After some light preparation, the couple sends the twins to the childcare centre a few blocks away.

Mr Sarifee starts his shift between 8am and 9am, but makes it a point to enjoy breakfast with his wife at their usual spot – a nearby coffeeshop. Then he logs into his Grab app and begins his rounds. He chooses to deliver mostly in the downtown Bukit Merah area, and will ply the roads until about 5pm or 6pm in the evening.

The Grab app is easy to use, he said. “The more time you spend on the roads making deliveries and in the right areas, the more you earn.”

As with any job however, there was an initial learning curve.

“For the first two or three months, I was not earning much. As I was riding the bike on the road in hot weather, I would go home whenever I felt tired,” he recalled. He added that he used to be too shy to ask for directions if he got lost.

But the rider has since become more disciplined and has built up a support network of riders, including Mr Norman Musa and Mr Zulmawin Bin Mohamed. After completing their lunchtime deliveries at around 3pm everyday, the three of them meet a few other riders to have their own lunch.

This brotherhood of riders offers mutual support to each other and is an informal but crucial element of the job. It can make a big difference to riders and even consumers.

If he or any of his fellow riders are unable to locate a restaurant, they call one another to ask for directions. According to Mr Sarifee, the riders live by the creed: “Don’t be shy to ask for help, we’re family.”

Mr Sarifee recalls one occasion when his motorcycle broke down while he was en route to deliver an order. Mr Norman gave him a lift so he could deliver the order. Mr Sarifee only returned later to collect his motorcycle as his priority was making sure the food was delivered to his customer.  

Experienced delivery riders like Mr Sarifee tie drink packets to minimise the risk of spillage. 

Seasoned riders like Mr Sarifee take a lot of pride in their job – they don’t just grab and go. After all, delivering food and drinks on time is pointless if the items spill in transit, so they make it a point to check that they are packaged properly.

“Riders who are new to the job may struggle slightly at first,” shared Mr Sarifee. “They may not tie drinks properly. The restaurant will put the drinks in a plastic bag and some riders will just take it and go. Some drinks are packed loosely and may spill by the time they reach the consumer, if we don’t tie the drinks properly.” So the next time your orders arrive perfectly, you have their expert handling to thank.

A SUPPORTIVE COMMUNITY BOUND BY FOOD

One heartening thing Mr Sarifee has noticed in the past year, is an increasing number of delivery orders from hawker centres. He was relieved to see more hawkers going digital and not being left behind.

“When circuit breaker first started, I was quite worried for the hawkers, especially the older ones. But I am glad to see the GrabFood app can help them, especially with mix and match.”

He sees at least one delivery order a day from Redhill Food Centre, and these orders typically comprise orders from different stalls – usually a main meal and a drink. “Hong Seng Curry Rice is one of the more popular stalls, most of my deliveries include orders from there. They used to have long queues during lunch, now they still have a queue and more delivery orders. And consumers will add on a drink to the order too.”

Even with the challenges, the seasoned rider appreciates the displays of kindness he has experienced from merchants and his customers over the years. 

Small displays of kindness from customers mean a lot to Mr Sarifee and his fellow riders. 

During last year’s fasting month for instance, a Muslim consumer offered him a drink and a bun to eat while breaking fast. Such acts of kindness are not isolated.  From consumers who leave him hand sanitisers and encouraging notes, to a kind stall owner who fed him kueh when he had to wait for her food, Mr Sarifee feels deeply appreciated.

Other riders have similar tales to tell, so it’s no surprise that when Grab organised several of its GrabforGood initiatives, many riders did not hesitate to help.

In one instance, Grab partnered with Food from the Heart and Care Corner Family Service Centre to provide last-mile delivery to residential beneficiaries. Mr Sarifee and Mr Norman were among 50 GrabFood delivery-partners who delivered food to about 70 people. The food, packaged by Food from the Heart, was delivered to residents at the Thye Hua Kwan Moral Society and Care Corner Family Service Centre (Tampines).

Mr Sarifee said he was inspired by his wife, who often does volunteer work despite her busy schedule.

MORE THAN WORTH IT

Clearly someone who cherishes his wife and five children, Mr Sarifee remembers the long overtime hours he had to put in at his previous job. “When I came back, everyone was already asleep. Now I'm back at about 6pm. After I pick up my twins, I can even have dinner with everyone at home.”

But ultimately, it is Grab’s ability to offer him flexible working hours that has kept him going. “In case my twins have an issue at school or have to go for a check-up, I can just go offline,” he said.

The job has empowered him to make time for his family’s needs while also building a new and diverse work family – consisting of fellow riders, consumers and stall owners. “I am happy that Grab has helped riders and merchants during this time. With the platform, I now also have a way of giving back to the community with my friends.” 

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