"Freaky fast delivery" is the motto at Jimmy John's, the gourmet sandwich chain with four outposts in Miami. Touting that orders are delivered within 20 minutes from hanging up, the bike-delivery boys are the unsung heroes that keep them to their word.
At last Wednesday's lunch-hour peak, 21-year-old Gabriel Hunter hurriedly pedaled through the congested streets of Brickell to hand-deliver an order of 16 bags of potato chips. His light brown curls bounced as he turned the corner onto 11th Street. He was thinking of all the tip money he had earned that day as he crouched forward on his road bike and pedaled faster.
He was going almost 25 mph when, balancing his weight and that of the full box of potato chips, he lost his center of gravity and weaved into the street. The truck was five feet away (and going slower than Hunter) when he saw it looming in front of him. He gripped the brakes but it was too late.
The next thing Hunter remembers was being on the ground. His black uniform visor was knocked off his head. Sprawled on the pavement, he heard a woman calling 911 in the distance. Staying as still as possible, the cyclist rolled up his khaki pants to peek at the injury he felt emanating from his lower left leg.
"At first I only saw little scratches and a little blood," Hunter recalls coolly. "But then I pulled my pants higher and I suddenly see bone. It was a gash like two fingers wide and 5 inches long."
He took off his shirt and wrapped it around his bleeding limb. He laid back down. The two men in the truck and other bike delivery boys huddled around him.
In less than 10 minutes, Fire Rescue arrived. Paramedics dressed the wound before taking Hunter to Jackson Memorial Hospital. "I was in more shock than pain," Hunter says. " But I started really freaking out in the ER. I waited like 10 hours to be seen. I kept thinking [the wound] needs to be cleaned. I even started throwing up. [I'm] not sure why but it was the most blood I've ever lost in my life."
After others with less serious injuries were called before him, the injured delivery boy was finally seen. It took nine stitches to close the wound and some of the exposed muscle had to be cut.
"The doctor said I was lucky that [the gash] wasn't on the shin but a centimeter off," Hunter says. "If I had hit the bone, it would've snapped and I would've needed surgery."
Hunter didn't get home until 10:30 p.m. that night.
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The 21-year-old is currently on crutches and can only walk a few steps before his leg starts to hurt. He is out of work for a week as his injury mends (the doctor warned that exercise and sweat can cause infection) but other delivery boys will cover for him.
Once he heals, Hunter will return to work where you will find him in Brickell on his road bike during the weekday lunch hour peak delivering sandwiches as fast as his legs can pedal.
"I just want to say it was my fault," Hunter stressed. "Jimmy John's is giving me worker's comp and I was going too fast and hit the truck. I just wanted to get there quickly."