- Coca-Cola truck drivers get to work as early as 4 a.m in New York City.
- For one day, I followed Miguel Santiago, a 66-year-old delivery driver who has worked with Coca-Cola for 20 years.
- Santiago makes deliveries to Penn Station.
One of the world's most ubiquitous beverage companies is powered by people like Miguel Santiago, a 66-year-old from the Bronx. Santiago has worked for Coca-Cola for 20 years.
Every weekday, Santiago drives a truck full of Coca-Cola products to New York City's Penn Station. Along with his helper Louis Gonzales, who has worked for Coca-Cola for 18 years, he unloads the truck and stocks shelves.
As a Liberty Coca-Cola spokesperson told Business Insider, each truck can hold up to 600 cases, and a case contains 24 bottles. That means that on any given day, they could be handling up to as many as 14,400 bottles.
I followed the two around for a day to see what a day in their lives is like.
My day started at 3:15 a.m., when I took a Lyft from my apartment in Brooklyn all the way up to the Liberty Coca-Cola distribution center in the Bronx.
New York is a bit eerie at 3:30 a.m. on a Tuesday. For the city that never sleeps, my neighborhood was surprisingly desolate.
The trip from my apartment near Prospect Park to the Bronx took 30 minutes by car, but by public transit at that hour it would have taken more than an hour and a half.
I arrived at 4 a.m. to meet Santiago outside of his truck. He has a car and it only takes him about five minutes to drive to work.
My first question for Santiago: Aren't you tired?
Turns out, he loves the morning shift because it lets him spend time with his family after work.
He's on the quiet side, but he was keen to talk about his granddaughter, who just celebrated her 16th birthday.
"She never misses a day of school, even when she's sick she goes to school," Santiago said. "We want her to go to college. I know she has to take some tests."
There's only one problem with his schedule: He has to go to bed at 8 p.m. and misses watching sports. His favorite sport is baseball and follows the Mets. "They stink," Santiago admitted.
Santiago's truck changes every day, and his vehicle is already loaded by the time he gets in at 4 a.m. He just needs to load carts in the truck and do some final checks.
By 4:30 a.m., Santiago had received his truck assignment and was checking that all of the stock was there, in addition to checking the engine and loading the truck with carts.
The whole process took under an hour.
He sees a different set of customers every day. Mondays and Tuesdays are the busiest as customers are stocking up for the week. Fridays are busy too, because they're stocking up for the weekend.