Grab Delivery Partners continuing the traditions of the roti man.
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“Ding!” goes the smartphone. A message pops up saying that my order has been picked up by a Grab Delivery Partner and it is on its way. A map appears showing how far away the delivery partner is and the route they will take. The feeling of anticipation sets in.
For a child of the 80’s the excitement is nostalgic. We did not have on-demand food and grocery delivery back then. But, what we had was the humble roti man.
The heavily laden motorcycle of a roti man is packed with snacks, treats, toys, and pastries. Despite their cartoonish facade, these riders are often heard before seen.
In some areas, they would use a horn. They would squeeze the rubber bulb to honk a pattern signalling to all interested patrons to be ready for their arrival.
It differs from one residential area to another. In mine, they would use a cylindrical metal bell. The roti man would hit it with a metal rod to differentiate themselves from the other roaming businesses in the area like the putu mayam seller, or the wet market sidecar.
We used to call them “ting-ting”, because of the sound they make. It can be heard over any cartoon, drama, or live-action costumed superhero show that was on TV. And when the ringing came closer and closer, everyone was ready at their gates, young and old, with cash in hand.
The roti man’s services were indispensable. They brought treats to children right at home, and basic pastries to busy households and the elderly. They zig-zag through neighbourhoods in the afternoon and evening so that their customers could stay safe and have more time at home.
“Ding!” goes the smartphone. Another message pops up, this time saying that the Grab Delivery Partner is around the corner. I would rush to the gate and wait for the rider to approach, just the same.
Today, the services provided by Grab Delivery Partners are more important than ever. Their approach is a welcomed site and because of them we can be safe and spend more time at home. The selection of food and groceries they carry is not limited to what they have pre-loaded on their bikes either.
For those who choose to wear the green of a Grab Delivery Partner, it is an opportunity to do what they love while making extra cash, get back on their feet, and become financially independent. And most of the time, they are happy to see you waiting for them too.
To know the other side of the story, watch this interview with Muhammad Sidek Osman, an OKU Grab Delivery Partner as he shares the reasons why he donned on the uniform and the challenges that he faced.