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Grateful patients give Scottish Courier a heartwarming end to her working week

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Day 12 of her lockdown journal finds Covid Courier Alyson McKell experiencing the highs and lows of the pandemic

Alyson McKell, veteran driver with Eagle Couriers in Scotland

Alyson McKell of Eagle Couriers, in her Mitsubishi Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle

By Alyson McKell

IF EVER there was day when I saw the highs and lows of the lockdown, it was today.

From the least promising of starts, I’m happy to say that this particular Thursday during Lockdown ended on a real positive note. But more of that later.

As my working day kicked off at 7am it promised to be fairly uneventful. I collected a bundle in Glasgow city centre from DX Mail, the dedicated mail service for Scottish legal firms, then dropped off the paperwork at various law offices.

However, it was when I arrived at the Royal Mail’s Baird Street sorting office that problems really started to unfold. My daily trips to the sorting office to pick up more mail for legal companies are usually uneventful. However, in the past 10 days, it has started to operate on reduced hours, even shutting on Wednesdays and Sundays.

Today I had to stand in a queue for 80 minutes – only to get very close to the front when the manager came out an announced the sorting office would be closing by 9am and no more people would be allowed in, despite the queue still snaking down the block. No explanation why was offered.

That prompted some angry exchanges, with numerous other people explaining that, like me, there were there to collect important business mail and had already waited for ages.

At that point the manager arranged for some of his staff to go inside and check for mail for us. He also advised us that, in future, we’d have to follow a new procedure to collect business mail – arriving at a dedicated shutter, where we’d press a buzzer and wait to have our mail checked out.

Just when I couldn’t be more fed up with the turmoil being caused by this Coronavirus pandemic, there was another kick in the teeth. After my long wait and the fuss of the early closure it turned out there wasn’t even any mail for me to collect today. Urgh.

While I was feeling pretty annoyed with my lot, I had to spare a thought for the even more unhappy people in the queue, as there were still around 40 other souls who had trudged out early in the morning to collect their mail, stood patiently in line, only to be disappointed.

Just to add to the drama at one point, the police turned up, demanding to know why there was such a big and busy queue at a time when people are supposed to be at home. In fact, everyone in the line was observing proper social distancing – but that only made the queue look even bigger, stretching half way down the street.

All in all, despite the fact I’d just wasted 1hr 20mins for nothing, I was glad to get back in my vehicle and head off for the next job.

From there, my day started to normalise, taking on a familiar rhythm, thanks to a number of jobs that happen most days. Those included my daily trip along the M8 to the depot of a major UK overnight deliver specialist, where I picked up a parcel to be delivered to Holytown, near Motherwell and another to be dropped back at the Eagle Couriers depot for onward, overnight delivery.

Eagle Couriers in Scotland works with Marie Curie Hospice

Eagle Couriers in Scotland workd with the NHS including the Marie Curie hospice in Glasgow

Another couple of familiar jobs later in the morning included two of my favourite NHS-related runs – picking up various samples from both the Marie Curie Hospice at Stobhill Hospital and from the Sandyford clinic, which specialises in reproductive and sexual health. In both cases, the samples had to be safely delivered to various labs at Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

Shortly after lunch I was dispatched back to the Infirmary, this time to the busy pharmacy department to collect vital medicines to be delivered to patients at their homes. And this is how my day finished on a real high.

The deliveries took me to the homes of patients in Kilsyth, Cumbernauld, Gartcosh and Milton – and in each case it was genuinely heart warming to see just how grateful they were for the safe delivery of their medication. If they thanked me once, they thanked me a dozen times.

One case in particular stuck with me. The couple who came to the door to pick up the package I had left on their doorstep were both in their 70s. As I was leaving they shouted after me: “Thank you so much for coming out in this and brining us our medicine … keep up the good work!”

No matter who you are, it is brilliant to feel appreciated. I thanked them for their warm words and finished up for the day feeling on a high that made those problems at the start of the day feel like they happened a lifetime ago.

It turns out that even during a lockdown like this, there are still things we can feel good about.

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