Uber Driver: 2nd job or weekend hobby?•
Companies like Uber allow just about anyone to turn leisure time into a pocketmoney machine. And, in this case, with a real engine. Toyota Highlander, to be exact. Like many people in major cities, I’ve taken my fair share of Uber rides, and each time I can’t help but ask my driver, “how do like working for Uber?”
“Work? This isn’t work.” My driver, hailing from St. Vincent, laughs out loud. Relaxed, he says, “I’m just driving.” He’s been “just driving” on weekends for two years now, pulling in $1,200 on average from a Friday late night to Sunday sunrise shift with very little sleep in between. As someone who needs her 8-hour beauty rest, I was impressed. But he reassures me that the overnight schedule is a long-time habit and for the trade off. He absolutely thinks he’s living the dream. “I know work. I used to be a carpenter, that’s work.” Maybe he knows the 7 secrets to working for Uber.
I ask him more about this overnight shift, like does he like picking up the clubbers and has he ever had any unruly passengers. “Drunk money is as good as sober money,” he says. Without a care or hint he’s ever had trouble, he tells me about the plastic bags he keeps on hand for when someone has to upchuck that last round of drinks. He goes on to say, almost proudly, no one has ever thrown up in his car. And between the bags and the others who manage to purge outside the door–all it takes is a car wash and he’s back on track.
I think to myself, I could never do this job. Navigating spontaneous throw up episodes just doesn’t sound remotely fun. But I digress.
His other favorite pickups? Early morning airport rides. They bring in more money with long hauls to and from the burbs. He meets interesting people, and he’s able to save enough money to cushion his lifestyle. I forget his current day job because at this point I’m just fascinated by his demeanor–sounding as if he’s almost pulling one over on the system. Working, but not really feeling the fatigue one might thinks comes with a second job.
I ask him if he also drives for Lyft or any other company in this vein. He says, no. There’s no need. Uber works for him just fine. In my personal, non-scientific poll of drivers who do both, some say Lyft gives a better percentage to drivers but Uber has more demand. Regardless, my driver insists, this has been his golden ticket. He doesn’t mind the schedule. He earns what he needs with very little effort compared to previous manual labor. Spending Saturdays “just driving” for a solid chunk of of change.
I step out after my 15-minute ride. Swipe my 5-star rating of his service. And go off to tell the friends I’m meeting about my optimistic Uber driver.
Whatever your thoughts are on the sharing or gig economy, the idea that someone can turn a second job into a lucrative weekend hobby that they enjoy is pretty great. It’s a work-life fit that gives him more financial freedom and, clearly, some joy–or at least nothing to grumble about–which is more than most can say about our regular jobs much less our 2nd ones. Something to think about as the measure of your next gig: maybe the job that works best is the one that doesn’t feel like work.
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