Making essential deliveries with Instacart

Contributed photo  Melody Dixon is one of the links between farm and plate as a worker for Instacart, an online grocery delivery service.

Anyone who has been to the grocery store lately knows it's stressful. The lines are long, the cleaning items are in short supply, certain food items may be missing entirely and all that time is spent worrying the next apple you touch will hold the dreaded COVID-19 virus.

Why not let a professional take care of it?

For those at risk, aging or with a compromised immune system, Instacart grocery delivery is exactly what the doctor ordered. Like many of our unsung heroes on the food supply chain – the truckers, the shelve stockers, the cashiers – Instacart shoppers such as Melody Dixon provide a basic service.

"At any given time there could be five or six of us in a store at a time," Dixon said. "We are not store employees, We are Instacart employees."

In an age of Uber and Grubhub, it shouldn't be surprising a company like Instacart has so much popularity. Its workers decide when they work, they're notified of orders via an app on their phone, and they're paid on the books. Some people even leave cash tips. The job requires a driving license and there is a background check.

Of course, with an epidemic and people scared of leaving their homes, there's been an uptick in business.

"It would be hit or miss if I got an order." Dixon said. "It would be the mom with three or four kids who didn't want to drag them all to the store, Now, I get a lot of older people. I'm still getting families, I see kids waving out the windows as I back out the driveway. I had one little girl draw me a picture that I've got hanging on my refrigerator."

Dixon isn't very religious, but she's a firm believer on doing unto others as you'd have done to you. She also has a tremendously positive attitude.

"It was how I was raised," she said. "You treat people the way you want to be treated, because, who knows? Maybe I'm going to need Instacart one day. You never know."

Being heroic isn't always donating time, Dixon gets paid well for the work she does. She has a whole list of precautions involving masks, disinfectant, gloves and routines every time she gets in and out of her car, so as to lower her own risk, and, of course, the risk of those around her.

"I want to keep myself safe and my customer's health safe to the best of my ability," Dixon said.

As to that attitude.

"Do we wake up at six or do we roll over and sleep till eight? What are we going to eat for breakfast? What are we going to wear? What are we going to do now?" she explained. "Our whole entire life is based on choices we decide to make and my choice is to be out there and help as many people as I can help."

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