Special Delivery Instructions: Sing My Son Happy Birthday
A DoorDash employee connects a mother and son with food and a song.
When I first signed up to deliver for DoorDash, I never considered that one day my job would be deemed essential—particularly during a worldwide pandemic. I remember when the panic set in. The streets were barren, and many of the folks I saw on the road were those delivering items to various homes. I’d arrive at a restaurant to pick up an order, only to see fellow delivery drivers lined up in front of me with no one else in sight.
Many restaurants had to furlough their staff, leaving one or two managers handling hundreds of orders at a time. This created a sense of unity between the restaurant managers and the delivery drivers—we knew we had to work together to take care of our customers. The experience felt both scary and sacred. At that time, we had no idea what we were dealing with, but it felt right to be serving my community by bringing sustenance in the form of food, a smile and a wave.
I Received Some Unusual Special Instructions on DoorDash
About a week into the lockdown, I received a delivery notification from a familiar restaurant. I knew the folks who worked there, so I would always accept any delivery I received for that location. I found that it was now even more important to check in with the restaurant staff, to ask them how they were doing and what I could do to make their job any easier. After accepting the delivery and arriving at the restaurant, I scrolled down to see which address I would be delivering to and found a note attached that read: “This delivery is for my son. It’s his birthday today. I can’t be there with him, so I was wondering if you’d sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to him for me after you drop the food at the door. It would mean the world to me.”
Upon reading the message, I felt a sense of sadness that this mother could not be there to celebrate her son’s birthday, which was then accompanied by a sadness for the collective loneliness settling into our daily lives. Things were already different, and they would be different for many days to come.
I Followed the Instructions, but Something Happened I Didn’t Expect
When I arrived at the son’s home, I emerged from my car to see kids playing outside, neighbors doing yard work and folks just trying to maintain a sense of normalcy amidst the coronavirus pandemic. I walked up to the son’s door, gently placed his order on the porch, rang the doorbell and walked quickly back to where I had parked. As the door opened, I began to sing “Happy birthday to you…” and to our surprise, the neighbors joined with me in song. The kids clapped and sang with such joy and amusement. We all looked at one another, almost in amazement, at the simplicity and purity of the moment. Once we finished singing, the son gestured my way and said, “I’ll leave this card for you at the door. It’s from my mother. Thank you so much for today.” Once he closed the door, I walked back up the driveway to take the card.
“Dear Dasher,” it read. “Thank you so much for making my son’s day so special. It means the world to my family and me. Please stay safe!”
I Never Thought Those Instructions Would Create Such a Beautiful Moment
As I walked back to my car and marked the order as delivered on my phone, I couldn’t help but reflect on the moment of connection I just experienced. The mother did not know who would be picking up her son’s order, yet she put her trust in the humanity of the person on the other end of the phone to help make her son’s day special. I do not know this mother’s name. I do not know where she is from or what she believes. I do not know her political leanings. And I do not know her son’s ideological beliefs, just as they do not know who I am, the identities I hold, and the life I have lived. Yet we all chose to trust that a moment like this—“small” in comparison to the many things happening in the world—could help us all feel a little more connected and show how essential connection really is.