One can look for work only for so long before it becomes truly a futile experience. That was about three years ago for me – the recognition of the futility of it all. But I continued the search, the fishing, the changing goals, and the self-education in updating my job skills, not because I wanted to but because I needed to. All those years I worked in tech … what are they good for now?
My past three.point.five years has felt like being kept in a cage – a kind of personal biblical period of tribulation. A spiritual retreat. Not being able to move about the planet as I would like. Having faith that somehow things would change. Now, it seems, finally, the energy has shifted and the cage door is cracked open.
It all started with the gift of an iPhone from a friend.
I had been tweeting for an old, but working iPhone – maybe someone had one they could hand off. I only wanted it to use for iphonography to work with my stock photography agency (as you can see by a lot of the newer posts on this site!) but after having it for a couple of weeks, it occurred to me that I could use it to sign up to drive for Uber. The politics/culture of the company aside, it may not be the job I want now, or would ever want, but it might get me moving out of the cage and into a forward direction out into the world.
After signing up, I realized that the whole process was going to be just a little more complicated than I first thought. The iPhone only had wi-fi and, um, I didn’t have access to an upscale vehicle. The Escape Pod was just not going to do for this project – which is fine with me, because it would need a lot of work to make it run around all day, plus, yes, it’s my sanctuary and carting strangers around in it is not something I’m willing to do.
A little research.
Recently Uber started a car leasing program to get new drivers who may not have the required level of vehicle into the program. The idea of leasing is not attractive to me on a number of levels. I have no where to park an extra car during the day or when I’m not driving for a few days, nor do I want to pay for an extra car during the weeks I might decide to take a break from driving. Not to mention extra insurance.
But one of the other offers is through a partnership with Enterprise. Rent a car when I need it – for weeks at a time if I wish – and return it when I want to take a break from driving. And the car rental insurance comes with it.
Whether leasing or renting, the cost of the vehicle is the first thing deducted from the paycheck, then the percentage (it’s now 20%) that Uber takes off of the top before paying out every Thursday.
It’s a bit like working for the company store whether the vehicle is rented or leased.
If you do the math, as I did, the leasing of the car, and renting for that matter, are not good deals for anyone with rent, bills, or dependents to feed. Seriously. It’s predatory. I though, have little overhead. I live in the pod and my only real monthly expenses are food and storage rent. If I drive full time, it will be possible to make just enough to cover expenses and have a little leftover to pay off little debts, and maybe purchase some much needed items like a new pair of glasses, some shoes, etc.
While in the past I have always been an independent magician, bringing together everything I need for my projects on my own terms, for some reason the Universe is forcing me to shout out to my community to get the things I need to start this particular project.
Which is ridiculous to think that it would cost a small fortune (for someone who has had no real income for years) to start a “job” …
I put the call out to my community. I told everyone who would listen what I was planning to do – which is basically exactly what I am writing here. Besides having the iPhone gifted to me, another friend put me on their friends and family plan for their mobile service. Other Angels came through with the basic cash advance, and a lot of other people are throwing rainbow darts in my direction just to get the energy moving.
My plan was to first commit to this for two weeks. I figured that two weeks of driving would let me know if I could handle the social aspect of driving people around. Two weeks would let me know if I can get over and above the company store aspect of the job. Even though it’s considered to be independent contracting, every incentive of driving for Uber ties the driver to the company. But unlike a company store, it’s easier to cut ties with Uber.
Now, I’m looking more at committing to driving through the summer. Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco. With my thinking cap on, I contacted Uber support and asked, could I take a working vacation? Could I go to say, someplace like Santa Fe, or Portland, or Seattle, and rent my Enterprise car and drive for a week? No, they said. But the good news is that I can drive anywhere within the state of California. Eventually I could go see some sites …
But for now, I’m starting with my home base.
Wish me luck.