Xi'an 'Superman' shines a light on the city's errand runners
By CFP-Globaltimes.cn, Published: 2015-06-30 10:00:22
Dou Tianhui (center, dark green T-shirt), holds a customer's place in a queue for registration at a hospital in Xi'an, Shaanxi Province, on the night of May 19, 2015. It is common for people visiting major hospitals in large cities in China to have to queue through the night to register. Dou started his errand company in Fujian Province in 2009, but in 2013 he sold his company and relocated to Xi'an. Photos: CFP
Editor's Note:
The availability of smartphones and social media in China has given rise to a new kind of occupation: the errand runner. Taking orders from customers via their phones, errand runners will deliver food, stand in queues for customers and even profess love on behalf of other people. The errand runners of Xi'an, Shaanxi Province, earn around 4,000 yuan ($644) a month, on average.

Dou carries a stool with him to make his time in the queues a little less wearying; here he is using his time in the queue to handle service orders on his mobile phone. Dou has been nicknamed "Superman" by some who know him, as he always seems to be running around. His hard work brings him an income of over 10,000 yuan ($1,611) a month.
Dou checks his position in the queue early on the morning of May 20. At this point, Dou had not slept for two days. The security staff at the hospital check the numbers of those in the queue every half-hour, so Dou is unable to leave.
Dou has two mobile phones for his business. May 20 is unofficially Internet Valentine's Day in China (520 is said to sound like "wo ài ni" or "I love you"), so on this day he is especially busy.
Dou talks to customers while taking his lunch. He always eats local fast food to save time.
Dou receives money from a customer after finishing an order.
Dou picks up flowers for a customer.
Dou, at a customer's request, takes a toy bear and prepares to confess the customer's love for a girl.
Dou makes his way to the girl
Dou delivers a heartfelt message from the customer.
Dou is helped by his daughter while making a delivery of flowers and gifts.
Dou delivers fast food for a customer. He says that he chose a career in errand running because he does not want to be tied to a single job - after all, this way he never knows what the next task might be or who he can meet.