It's a familiar scenario: you're in the office and craving potentially unhealthy food from a takeaway joint, but the nearest branch is too far away to get to during the lunch hour and it isn't a fancy enough place to offer delivery. Fortunately, there is a way to get around this.
We has this exact problem at Lifehacker HQ during the week. Everyone has been craving Lord Of The Fries since Chris Jager reviewed it last week (yes, even though he happened to lose a tooth at the time). However, Lord Of The Fries has just one Sydney outlet right now, and it's far enough from the Allure Media offices that we couldn't casually stroll there to grab some fries or mysteriously meat-free burgers.
Walking there and back would undoubtedly offset some of the kilojoule count, but in the high-pressure business of life hacking, there just didn't seem to be time. Fortunately, I had a brainwave : we could hire someone to do it via Airtasker.
We've written about Airtasker, which lets you advertise for someone to perform casual one-off tasks for an agreed rate, quite a few times. Find someone willing to queue up and buy our food and bring it to the office and we'd be sorted.
I don't want to pretend the enthusiasm was unanimous. Words can't describe the contempt with which one of my colleagues uttered the phrase "vegan cheese", and the team at POPSUGAR Fitness are far too committed to healthy eating to be swayed. However, after an office email, we had half-a-dozen takers.
The good bits
I didn't log onto Airtasker until the night before we needed the delivery, so I was unsure whether anyone would be willing to volunteer themselves for the job. Not that any of it was particularly challenging, but since the person we were paying would have to pay for the food up-front and then get reimbursed, I could imagine there might be trust issues.
That suspicion wasn't entirely misplaced. The first potential volunteer suggested we should phone in the order and pay for it by credit card. Not that kind of place, I explained. Nonetheless, within a couple of hours there were two 'bids' for the job. I checked out the reviews (always a wise move with any service), and then chose the lowest bidder.
From that point on, it was easy: I emailed our list, collected the money from my colleagues, and sat around eagerly waiting for the food to arrive. Promptly at 1230, Jose appeared, carrying two shopping bags filled with burgers, fries and drinks. LOTF had even put the sauces in plastic containers so stuff didn't spill. The food wasn't piping hot, but that's hard to avoid with delivery, and it certainly wasn't so cold as to be inedible.
The bad bits
Doing it this way isn't cheap. The suggested Airtasker rate for a delivery person is around $25, which I could accept (the Australian minimum wage is just under $17 an hour, but that presumes a full-time role). I decided to specify $30 as the delivery rate, and that worked out to fine. Over six people, that's quite expensive; for a dozen or more, it would be less of an issue.
If your restaurant of choice does offer delivery services, you'll rarely pay that much of a premium. That said, it seems highly unlikely that a hole-in-the-wall joint like Lord Of The Fries, which doesn't even offer seating, is going to offer deliveries any time soon. Given that, we're happy with the solution.