Last week, there was a particularly nasty story in the tabloid press provided by a thoughtless and unkind – and dare I say, privileged – woman who attempted to shame two delivery drivers on social media because they had stopped on a country lane to spend a penny. She snapped their photo and expressed her disgust.
Ironically, she had her phone at the ready because she had stopped in a lay-by to place an online order for “medical supplies for her horse” on her smartphone. These supplies would, presumably, be delivered by delivery drivers not unlike the ones she humiliated.
A person with more grace and empathy might have wondered what else these men, driving all day, were meant to do. Perhaps she could have campaigned with the other horsy ladies of the community to have Portaloos installed in a convenient location. No one expected her to offer them the use of her own guest lavatory, but that would have been a far better gesture than her spiteful attempt to shame them and get them into trouble with their employers.
Amid the controversial call by Labour to vaccinate teachers ahead of some of the vulnerable tiers set out by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), some have pointed out that drivers are in fact the most at-risk group (and teachers don’t even make the top ten). Indeed, the Office for National Statistics confirms that:
Road transport drivers, including male taxi and cab drivers and chauffeurs, had some of the highest rates of death involving COVID-19
This isn’t an argument for another occupation queue-jump – I think we ought to stick to the JCVI’ plan – but while people eschew public transport, expect long-haul drivers to keep toilet paper and pasta in stock at their local shop, and turn to Amazon and other home deliveries for their supplies and entertainment – and, er, ‘horse medicine’ – some more gratitude would be welcome for the heroes out on the road keeping us fed and provisioned, picking us up and dropping us off, and keeping everything moving while we stay put in lockdown.