If there’s one thing that’s constanty amazed me over the six months I’ve lived in Kyiv during wartime, it’s the spirit and resilience of the Ukrainian people. And there’s one group that really highlights that spirit: the ubiquitous Glovo food delivery people.
It may sound a bit weird to think of a bunch of food delivery drivers, riders and walkers as the epitome of tenacity and perseverance, but let me explain.
Techno a glo-vo
When it comes to technology like ridesharing, food delivery, banking and digital identity, Ukraine is significantly more advanced society than most of the world. There are three major ride-sharing companies operating in Kyiv so anytime anyone needs to get somewhere quickly, they can flip between Uber, Uklon and Bolt to see which one is nearest or cheaper.
Convenient technology is everywhere in everyday life, but it’s the food delivery folks that take the cake. You can’t walk anywhere in Kyiv without dodging a car, bike or scooter sporting a big yellow Glovo backpack. Rain or shine, blizzard or heatwave, brilliant nightlife or blackout, you can always get a pizza or burger delivered right to your door.
To the bunker? Nah…
The Ukrainian twist on this occurred October 10, 2022, the first day since my arrival in Kyiv that Russian missiles penetrated the city centre. I was awoken by air raid sirens early that morning. I thought it was just another annoying warning, but when I got to the lobby I knew something was different. The folks at the front desk were nervous and asked me to get to the bunker asap because rockets were actually hitting the city.
Instead, just as I do everyday I had a cappuccino at my regular table in the hotel courtyard. Anti-aircraft fire and explosions could be heard in the distance and both staff and guests were uneasy. Rather than huddle in the hotel basement bunker, which is actually pretty nice, we all decided to drink wine and celebrate ‘armageddon’ together.
Fight for your right to pizza!
Later that day the entire city was plunged into total darkness for the first time. I was on the rooftop deck with my new friends in the pitch dark trying to survey the damage, but we couldn’t see a thing. Around midnight, still in total darkness I decided to go inside. I open the door and what do I find? Six pizzas!
“Where the heck did the these come from?” I exclaimed incredulously. “We ordered from Glovo” was the simple explanation.
“Wait a second” I stammered. “Are you saying that at midnight during the first direct missile strikes in Kyiv for months, in the pitch dark with no power or streetlights, you ordered pizza, and someone actually rode over here with six?”
“Sure, everyone’s gotta make money to survive” he said.
I’m from Vancouver where the slightest dusting of snow paralyses the entire city. Yet here’s some food-delivery guy out hustling on his bicycle in total darkness, at midnight in the middle of a war zone. And don’t forget the chef at the generator-powered restaurant that made the pizza!