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Meet Kaushik Mishra, a New School scholarship student who earns extra money as an eBay Now courier in New York City. Which means if you order $25 worth of merchandise and are willing to cough up a $5 delivery fee (plus tip), Mishra will bring you whatever your heart desires from eBay's partner stores—box stores like Best Buy, Target, KMart, and Home Depot)—wherever you happen to be in Manhattan, Queens, or Brooklyn within about an hour. (The service is also available in the Bay Area and is rolling out to more locations soon.)
"Whenever you get orders for condoms and lube, those customers expect you to be there within an hour," Mishra told FastCompany writer Austin Carr, who shadowed him for a day during last month's heat wave and lived to tell the tale (barely).
During his time with Mishra, Carr didn't have to bring anybody condoms—but he did have to bring some girl in Brooklyn a bottle of mint green Sally Hansen nail polish and a pair of bike shorts. (Actually, Mishra struck out on the bike shorts, so only ended up bringing the nail polish.) Which begs the question: how lazy are we?
We've written quite a bit in the past year about how US e-retailers are experimenting with same-day delivery, and this summer the concept seems to be kicking into high gear. Sephora's delivery van has been making the rounds. Net-a-Porter is offering same-day service to their Hamptons customers via seaplane. And eBay has been publicly advertising their eBay Now service, which was previously kept pretty under the radar (speaking from personal experience, every ad on Pandora that isn't for a dating service seems to be for eBay Now).
It makes some kind of sense that, if it's going to catch on at all, this service would catch on during the dog days of summer. New York's extreme temperatures and five-story walk-ups have been known to break the spirit of even the most intrepid city-dwellers, and air-conditioning units are one of the most-requested eBay Now items.
But nail polish? The total fruits of Mishra's labor (22 minutes of walking; 24 minutes of in-store browsing; two calls to the customer; and assistance from four Kmart employees) come out to one $6.72 bottle of nail polish in what he's pretty sure is probably the correct color.
If you think that's a lot of effort for not very much reward, Mishra's dad agrees with you. "My parents are immigrants, and my dad is old-school: When he moved to this country, he did manual labor for 15 years," Mishra explains. "He's not concerned with the job itself; he's more so concerned that people are becoming this lazy.