CHENNAI: Ice water, he rasps, flashing the universal symbol for drinking water — the thumbs up sign pointing towards his arched back head. The person who opens the door understands, while peering at the huge blue backpack he’s wearing, ostensibly wondering if his new phone is okay. With the e-retail market buzzing with sales and same-day-delivery promises this summer, delivery boys who whizz around town making it happen, are really feeling the heat. “Three days ago, the heat didn’t seem too bad. But honestly, I wouldn’t know. Inside the helmet it began to seem like everything was a haze. So I went to a medical shop and asked for Electral,” said Arulmani N, who works with a popular e-tail website’s delivery partner. Eventually, his sister made him see a doctor on Monday and he discovered that he had signs of acute dehydration and partial heat stroke. The irony was, he didn’t even see it coming.
In a strange new trend, doctors across the city have begun reporting that medical shops are referring delivery boys to them because they suspect they might need a drip, after getting dehydrated. “Most of these boys want to keep going because they have 10-12 parcels left to deliver, but they don’t realise that drinking a litre of cold water, a bottle of Coke or even some glucon D will take away six to seven hours of dehydration,” said Dr K Jagadeeshan, general physician. Over the last fortnight he has treated at least six men with delivery-based jobs, three of whom needed drips and rest.
With deadlines and delivery schedules that give them little respite, these delivery men often work from eight am all the way till 10 pm, with the peak of their deliveries happening when the sun is blazing hot, “Earlier, people would ask us to come home after office hours, but in summer their children or parents are always at home, so we have to complete the delivery on schedule,” said Saravanaperumal, who works with a courier service contracted to e-retail sites, “Between the heat and the large bags soaking sweat into our backs, it’s a wonder that more people don’t get affected,” he added dourly.