in 30–40 minutes

rotem volk
tel aviv

2021, Feb­ru­ary 19

The customer’s name was weird and so I imme­di­ate­ly decid­ed it was some old per­vert. It was­n’t a per­vert. Not at all. It is indeed a strange thing to be a woman in the world with these fears all the time.

 

They lived in this refur­bished build­ing close to my old apart­ment and one build­ing next to a bar I real­ly like. It’s been so long since I’ve had a drink in a bar!

 

The stair­case was com­plete­ly new and very beau­ti­ful, some parts of it were still cov­ered as a pro­tec­tion mea­sure­ment left from the con­struc­tion site. It was a sun­ny Fri­day after­noon and they ordered a large fan­cy meal with seafood from a restau­rant locat­ed near the beach. I felt a bit jeal­ous. I called them when I arrived like they asked for in the app but the woman said they’re not home yet so I left it at their door. I met them down­stairs as I was leav­ing. They car­ried shop­ping bags from the super­mar­ket, prob­a­bly some gro­ceries for the week­end. They were a very sweet cou­ple, I guess a bit younger than me. I took their pho­to and felt a bit jeal­ous again.

I did­n’t find the address so I called. He had the same name as me – Rotem. It’s a pop­u­lar name in Israel for both men and women but it still always feels strange to meet some­one who shares your name. Most of the time you man­age to still live your life think­ing that you’re the only one and it’s almost a dis­ap­point­ment to be con­front­ed with the fact that you aren’t. Rotem waved from a win­dow above. “Hel­lo there nice deliv­ery lady!” he called. It was actu­al­ly a hotel. He was on his phone but agreed that I’ll take his pho­to if he can stay with his mask on. I did­n’t tell him my name.

He ordered from a japan­ese deli that makes poke bowls but also sells cute japan­ese prod­ucts and can­dies. I went there with a friend a while ago. It remind­ed me of Lon­don. I think he real­ly enjoyed the pho­to op.

2021, Feb­ru­ary 4

This is my Mom, Orna. I dropped by at her place in the mid­dle of work to sur­prise her with some of her favourite cheese borek­i­tas. I want­ed to cheer her up because she was feel­ing a bit down with all that has been going on late­ly and also tired after the sec­ond dose of the vac­cine. As part of the lock­down restric­tions here, you’re not allowed to leave your home for a dis­tance of more than 1 km. Not to men­tion vis­it­ing oth­er peo­ple in their homes. As a Wolter though I’m obvi­ous­ly not lim­it­ed by these rules since I’m con­sid­ered an “essen­tial work­er”. That excep­tion in the law enabled me to do this pri­vate food deliv­ery of my own and see my mom although she lives on the oth­er side of town from me. The back­pack with the logo on my back offers me a for­bid­den sense of free­dom in the city. It feels good and even a bit mis­chie­vous sometimes.

2021, Feb­ru­ary 1

A. ordered Hum­mus for lunch. The road to his house was bumpy, some of it under con­struc­tion. I was hop­ing not to get a flat tire. The area felt a bit dodgy too and although it was still day­light, I did­n’t want to get stuck there with my bicy­cle. Yet as a com­plete con­trast to the sur­round­ing set­ting, A opened the door with a sur­pris­ing­ly friend­ly face and wel­com­ing smile and voice.

2021, Jan­u­ary 29

A. ordered a fan­cy meal with a bot­tle of wine. He lived in the build­ing next to the restau­rant, or at least that’s what the app told me. He asked to call him when it’s ready and before I knew it he appeared across the street. I think he just typed in that address for the deliv­ery, because you can’t order take away your­self dur­ing lock­down these days, only through couri­ers. He want­ed me to send him the pho­to after I took it. I won­dered who he was going to share this love­ly roman­tic meal with, I had a feel­ing it was­n’t just for him.

2021, Jan­u­ary 28

They ordered Hum­mus and Ice tea on a Fri­day after­noon. In the address com­ments on the app it said: “We’re sit­ting in the gar­den out­side, call when you get here and we’ll explain.”

 

I imag­ined a bunch of “dudes” sit­ting in some shab­by back­yard get­ting drunk from beer. I thought they would prob­a­bly agree for me to take their pho­to, per­haps ask for a self­ie with me too though. I hoped they would­n’t be too annoy­ing. But as I fol­lowed the Google map instruc­tions, I reached a small pub­lic park and found some­thing com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent. A young and sweet look­ing group of boys and girls were play­ing catch with a soft spongy ball. They waved at me so I could tell it’s them who ordered the food. R. came to take the deliv­ery from me. As I left I saw them set up a small picnic.

2021, Jan­u­ary 27

Adar is an old friend from the army. He’s the first acquain­tance I met dur­ing my deliv­er­ies so far. I keep think­ing what would hap­pen if I acci­den­tal­ly arrived at some Ex’s house … so Hadar was a nice sur­prise. He asked me to put his deliv­ery on the doorstep but I insist­ed he opened because I already recog­nised his name and I want­ed him to see it was me. He was extreme­ly sur­prised and also said he nev­er saw a woman Wolter before. After I left I won­dered if they gave him the extra Tahi­ni he asked for, cause I for­got to check.

Y. ordered Jach­nun on Sat­ur­day morn­ing. Jah­nun is a tra­di­tion­al Yemenite Jew­ish pas­try, very pop­u­lar in Israel, espe­cial­ly on the week­end. I did­n’t know the place she ordered from and won­dered if it was any good. I’m always hap­py to learn about new places for Jach­nun, it’s a very spe­cif­ic munch I get once in a while, and on Sat­ur­days they tend to run out quickly …

2021, Jan­u­ary 25

I did­n’t even know that we also do flower deliv­er­ies and that moved me. Bring­ing some­one flow­ers on a Fri­day after­noon. Flow­ers for the week­end. I feared they would rot and get ruined in my back­pack so I put them in my front bas­ket. There was a huge delay at the flower’s shop but I did­n’t mind. I was in no hur­ry. One of the shop’s work­ers gave me a cab­bage flower as a com­pen­sa­tion for the wait. “Don’t try to eat it”, she said.

The flow­ers were a sur­prise for M, but she was­n’t home so I left them at her door. It’s nice to receive unex­pect­ed flowers.

2021, Jan­u­ary 21

E. was cool. She ordered her piz­za from my favourite piz­za place. She lived in a one sto­ry house which is quite rare in Tel Aviv. When I asked to take her pho­to she want­ed to make sure it’s not a com­mer­cial or some sort of brand pro­mo­tion. I explained it isn’t and gave her my busi­ness card. She said: “Thank you Rotem”. It felt sur­pris­ing­ly nice to hear my name. “Enjoy your meal” I replied. It tru­ly is the best piz­za in town.

2021, Jan­u­ary 20

M. ordered Spaghet­ti Bolog­nese. One of my all time favourites and I real­ly felt like hav­ing that too after a long ride. His house was pret­ty close to the restau­rant so it was an easy deliv­ery. I went into the ele­va­tor but it did­n’t work so I climbed 4 floors. When I reached his floor, I was­n’t sure which door was the right one, but while I was strug­gling with tak­ing out the food from the huge back­pack in the nar­row cor­ri­dor he opened the door. He seemed a bit upset so I did­n’t ask for his photo.

2021, Jan­u­ary 18

My last deliv­ery on my first day. She was the first to open the door to me though. I was very late with her Mex­i­can food. 30 Min­utes late to be exact. I felt it was slow­ly dying in my back­pack. I was sure she’d be mad at me for the delay, but she was actu­al­ly real­ly hap­py to see me. It seemed she was hav­ing a New Year’s zoom par­ty with a few friends online and was hold­ing her phone so I could see them when she opened the door. “Our Food has arrived!” she said. I thought it was cute she said “our”. I apol­o­gised for being late, although I’m not sup­posed to and asked if I could take her picture.

2021, Jan­u­ary 15

First Day at Work
I chose the cra­zi­est day to start – New Year’s Eve dur­ing lock­down. On the couri­ers’ app every­one was prepar­ing for the bat­tle­field of a super hec­tic evening. With no par­ties or any­thing to do out­side, it seemed like the whole city was plan­ning on order­ing in.
I was very stressed and went through the video tuto­ri­als again. I wore the Wolt shirt and the coat, put the ther­mal back­pack on and took my bike down­stairs. The app said the area is “Busy”. I swiped right to get online. “Expect tasks short­ly” it said and sure enough I got my first assign­ment – Col­lect­ing Hanna’s piz­za from one of my favourite Piz­za places in Tel Aviv. Piz­za! what a clas­sic start. I didn’t know where I was head­ing after­wards, the app doesn’t tell you until you col­lect the deliv­ery. When I got there I asked one of the oth­er wait­ing Wolters there to help me out. I sud­den­ly didn’t remem­ber any­thing… I for­got how much I hate start­ing a new job and being “the new girl”, I haven’t had that feel­ing for a long time. I was also super stressed about doc­u­ment­ing every­thing togeth­er with nav­i­gat­ing my way and fol­low­ing updates and tim­ing on the app. But soon enough the piz­za was in my bag and I was on my way with my first delivery!
The city was com­plete­ly emp­ty and qui­et. A very sur­re­al and unusu­al scenery for Decem­ber 31st. There were main­ly just oth­er couri­ers like me on the road. I was part of them now and it felt a bit like we are all some sort of army troops in the mid­dle of a secre­tive oper­a­tion, with those light blue uni­forms and backpacks.
Every­thing went wrong that night: My inter­net crashed, my phone didn’t work, my phone hold­er broke, I was sweat­ing like hell, my hair kept get­ting in my eyes with the hel­met, the back­pack was heavy on my back and my glass­es were all fog­gy from the face mask I was wear­ing. I couldn’t believe I’m actu­al­ly doing this for real. And on New Year’s eve!
But I final­ly made it. Han­na got her piz­za. on time. She asked for no con­tact deliv­ery so left it at her door. My phone came back to life and bipped. “Con­grat­u­la­tions! You fin­ished your first deliv­ery! How was it? tell us all about it!” It was a mes­sage on the couri­ers’ app from the sup­port team. But I couldn’t answer because I was already head­ed to my next assign­ment of some mex­i­can tacos, on the whole oth­er side of town.

2021, Jan­u­ary 8

Get­ting started.
After I passed the online train­ing, I went to Wolt’s logis­tic cen­ter to get my equip­ment: uni­form and – most impor­tant­ly – the ther­mal back­pack for the food deliveries.
The cen­ter is locat­ed in a known yet very strange indus­tri­al cen­ter in South Tel Aviv, not very far from my house. I took my bike there. It was hard for me to find the exact loca­tion inside the cen­ter because it’s locat­ed pret­ty much under­ground. One of the places I would nev­er walk alone at night. Some­how I imag­ined it a bit fanci­er. It made me think about all the women food car­ri­ers that need to come here. Did they also feel uncom­fort­able? Most of the couri­ers at least in Tel Aviv are men though. And the cen­ter clos­es at 5PM any­way, so there’s no fear of find­ing your­self there at night. In fact it was New Year’s Eve so it closed even ear­li­er, and I hur­ried to make it on time. There were lit­tle arrows that showed the way. Even­tu­al­ly I reached a small stor­age place. The guys there were very nice. I paid a deposit and they gave me two Dri-Fit shirts and two reg­u­lar ones, one coat and the back­pack. One of them helped me set it up. It was huge! much big­ger then it seemed when I’ve seen it on couri­ers across town.
I told the guy I was doing it for an art project. He said that it’s nice how art has become mod­ern and mix­es with every­day life. I agreed. He told me about anoth­er artist that took some bags and did some Andy Worhol pop art inspired pho­tog­ra­phy with them.
This is it. I was ready.
On the way back home I met an old friend from school at a cross­walk. I tried to explain: “I’m just doing it for a project, it’s my first day…I’m not…” She didn’t hear me and just laughed and yelled back: I love you! I realised that once I put on the back­pack I was already play­ing the role although I wasn’t even real­ly work­ing yet. And what mat­ter does it make any­way? It’s real, it’s start­ed. Any­thing that hap­pens from now on is part of it.
“Con­grat­u­la­tions” said a voice next to me. It was anoth­er “wolter” with a back­pack. “For what?” I asked. “You just said it’s your first day at work, good luck!” I laughed and said thank you. He also had reg­u­lar bikes, not elec­tric ones. We rode togeth­er for a while. It was nice. He said he’s also an artist, that he has a stu­dio near­by and that it helps him to earn a liv­ing so that he can focus on his art. He showed me some of his draw­ings on his phone and a few pho­tos he took of his bike. He was very sweet and seemed young. Younger than me at least. I final­ly man­aged to explain to him I’m doing this as part of an art project. He was very excit­ed about it and I gave him my details so that he can fol­low how it goes. Or just fol­low me in gen­er­al. It was a nice wel­come to my new adventure. 

2021, Jan­u­ary 4

It seems becom­ing a food couri­er is not that easy as I thought! Indeed the hottest job of 2020 – in Tel Aviv there is a wait­ing list of 15.000 (!) peo­ple who wish to join Wolt (the most pop­u­lar restau­rant deliv­ery ser­vice in Tel Aviv that hap­pens to sound quite like my sur­name – Volk).

 

But after 3 months of wait­ing and pulling some strings I final­ly got the job, signed my con­tract and start­ed my training!

Things I’ve learned so far from the video tutorials:

 

1) Nev­er ask for a tip

2) Nev­er cross a red light to make a deliv­ery faster

3) Always say thank you, you’re wel­come and bon appetite (bete’avon in hebrew)

Logo: Doron Flamm