Des Culleton (53) has been a DPD driver for two years. Before that, he had an office-based job as an operations manager in a freight-forwarding company. He lives in Donabate, Dublin, with his wife and their three grown-up children
I get up at 4am. At this stage, I’m well used to it. Sometimes I wake before the alarm. My wife doesn’t hear a thing. I’ve always been an early riser. It’s still dark at 4am, but around 5am it gets a bit brighter. It’s harder to get up when it’s cold. Once I get my coffee, I’m a morning person. It’s too early for breakfast, so I grab a sandwich later on.
I arrive at the DPD warehouse in Rosemount Business Park. When we get in, the trailers are on site. They come from the sorting office — the depot in Athlone. As the packages come off the trailer, we sort out ones that come off the belt. I have all the packages for my particular area down on the floor ready to scan. That takes about two-and-a-half hours.
You have to predict when you are going to deliver. On the morning, a customer gets a text saying the exact hour the package will arrive. DPD has a great system. Because of that scanning, 95pc of your customers would be home because they know you’re coming. Then we head off and start our run.
I do from Finglas Village, up as far as Ikea in Ballymun. If I know there’s going to be traffic — for example, around schools — I go the opposite way or I allow extra time so I can achieve the deliveries within the specified hour. Generally, we have two or three minutes per delivery. You have to pack the van the way you’re going to offload it. The lads call my van the tardis because I get so much into it.
You could be delivering anything — clothing, toys or dog food. It could even be a car door. During lockdown, people got used to ordering their bits and pieces online, and even though we’re out of lockdown, they continue to do it. Covid changed the game completely in our industry. In some areas where you might have had one driver, now you have four. I know lots of customers by name and they know me by name too.
Our policy is to treat every single box as if it’s fragile. If you were seen on camera throwing a box across the floor, you would be reprimanded. Everything is precious cargo except garments. You can throw a jumper. It isn’t going to break.
Generally, you know the area where you could jump out and run to a door, but you have to know the lie of the land, because you never know the time or place where somebody would try the lock. We have your product in the back of the van, so we have a duty of care to get it to you.
Delivering to houses isn’t usually an issue as there’s parking, but apartments can be tricky. Buzzers are often broken or a person might have their phone on silent. It’s the only job I’ve ever done that somebody might be in bad humour but they’re still happy to see you.
The generosity of people is incredible. Yesterday, I went to a door and a guy handed me two large bars of chocolate to say thank you. Sometimes, women will meet me at the door as they don’t want their husbands to know that they’ve been shopping online again. But often there’s light-hearted banter about this.
I love my job because of the freedom. You’re out and about meeting people every day, and once you do the job correctly with DPD, you’re left alone. I used to work in an office and I couldn’t take it any more. DPD is a very good company. There’s no issue with sick pay and there’s a contributory pension, but they’ll give you the direction to do that.
When you don’t deliver something, you bring it back to the warehouse and reschedule the delivery. Then you switch off your scanner and you’re done for the day.
I finish work at 1pm. When I get home, I’m like a coiled wire. In the afternoon I’ll have a snack. Then I might go for a walk or a cycle. If there’s anything to be done at home, you have time to do it. It’s not all about work. You have to live too. When I go to bed at 9pm, I’m out like a switch.
Interview by Ciara Dwyer