I’m all about helping people find self-acceptance, to feel loved, understood, entertained and to find the biggest smile they have in them. When getting ready to hit the road to drive for Lyft, I am often thinking about ways to rally shenanigans with passengers. Sometimes with lighthearted joking around, like when I point out my choice to wear gym outfits while driving weekend nights for the same reason my friends and I chose to wear grannie-panties in high school – as a shield against temptation. At other times, in ways that have more depth. It comes down to reading them, myself and where we are together in that moment together.
As I give myself a mental pat on the back with a chuckle, these ideas spin off into further thoughts of my sister telling me that my sense of humor is a mixture of Amy Schumer and Fat Amy. I get it, but have also always first thought that I was channeling Rodney Dangerfield and Chelsea Handler when on one of my humor benders.
Those thoughts get me thinking about wanting more than just a laugh, which is when they spin into ideas like entertaining through themes and maybe even costumes. Also to find ways to help passengers and to support causes I believe and volunteer in, like the UBER driver who brings shelter dogs on ride-alongs.
I was stoked and ready to launch these new Lyft goals until being detoured when reality inevitably hit like a Monday morning hangover. Lyft changed their rental car program with only two or three days notice. Changes of how we are paid had immediate impact over the next couple weeks income that many of us were counting on. Also no longer qualifying for referral bonuses and the monetary bonus structure for how many rides given were pretty much eliminated. While still able to get the rental covered if working our asses off by hitting a minimum of 75 rides a week, about what I average in a 40 hour week, and another that is for actual money at some even higher ride number count that is pretty unrealistic, my income has instantly dropped by a minimum of $50 a week. This isn’t exactly six-figure income, so that makes a difference big enough to come with a noticeable sting.
Coincidentally, the rental car I had been switched to less than a week before, both slightly dirty and without a full tank of gas, had popped the check engine light and started running in a way that worried me. All on the weekend when I couldn’t get in until Tuesday to take care of it. Every time I go into the Hertz partnership location, I am losing work hours and there for at least two hours. I estimated a loss of around $100 in income outside of the time and other challenges it caused. I was given a two day credit which is equivalent to $60 or $70. An appreciated gesture, as is my awesome in-house reps for both Lyft and Hertz, but not exactly what I consider acceptable, all things considered.
Of course this all happens right before I am scheduled to head home to San Diego from the Bay Area, not only holding me up a couple of days, but also putting me in an even more stressful financial situation with the noticeably lower money I pull in when driving in SD. Something I still hope is temporary and due to still needing to figure out the quirks of driving in my sunny city home-base.
I can’t say I’m all that surprised that all of this came at once. The snowball effect seems to be one of life’s constant ironies. C’est la vie.
During all of this, I finally checked out UBER’s rental program. While I want to stick with Lyft, I can’t ignore the feedback I’m getting that UBER pays better. With the current changes Lyft has made, I am wondering now even more than ever how just how much more. A weekly rental fee that is $25 less than the Lyft/Hertz program and gas savings from a brand new Prius rental are something to consider. So is the $250 nonrefundable deposit and insurance policy that will cost me $1,100 out of pocket for a year. It’s not realistic at the moment, but something I will begrudgingly keep in mind for the ‘ol if/when.
Good and bad, I still love working with Lyft. The people, the freedom, the ability to pick up and drop work when ever suits my travel is amazing. It’s also important to keep in mind that the details I’m sharing are for the San Francisco Bay Area and both Lyft and UBER are startups with constant changes. Rules, regulations, bonuses and all of the above are different from area to area and likely to change as soon as we get used to them, as is the nature of the beast when it comes to startups.
While first experiencing this new world of freelance driving, I’ve lost track a little of the foundation reason as to why I’m affiliated with these services in the first place. As happy as I am to get to spend time with loved ones and be at home in SD, I am dying to get back to Thailand. Putting money in the bank for my new leave date of January is imperative to my being OK with pushing it out.
Sadly, the stress of all these new and unexpected challenges have had an affect on those previously mentioned grandiose ideas of stepping up my driver game. I’ve been quieter and less engaged. I not OK with ever pushing off my stress or anything other than the happiness I’m so good at spreading to other people. Especially through the main outlet I’ve found in which to do so.
These hiccups has been pretty upsetting in the was covered but it’s also made me realize that I am, once again, focusing my life and identity on my source of income instead of writing and travel. As always, life is acting in unexpected ways and taking me down these detoured paths. It still throws me for a loop, but I’m at least getting better at seeing how it fits in the big picture. Regardless of everything, the people I meet will always be everything regardless matter where it happens.
The people I’ve met through driving continue to so awesome that I fall in love just a little bit with so many of them.
-I met a man from Glasgow, the area in Scotland of someone I used to be close to, who was headed to his friend’s boat. Together, we connected memories of loved ones and a sentimental place from both of our past.
-I got a kick out of chatting with a couple of attractive young studs from India who I was taking to the Pink Poodle strip club.
-I feel for commuters who are running late or just too tired to take the train/bus. They almost always feel guilty for going the easier and more expensive route, which gives me the chance to help them understand that everyone needs a break as well as to get some clarity when I’m in the same boat…or Lyft.
-Speaking of being just too tired to deal, a few days ago I picked up a lovely chickadee who had run out of gas and didn’t have the energy to deal with it that night but wasn’t about to let it stop her from meeting up with friends for dinner. By the time we got to the restaurant, we had bonded to the point of it being sad to say goodbye. It had also given me some new strength of my own to stop distancing from loved ones when stressed.
– Picking up others originally or just visiting from The Bay is always fun.
– Drunk people trying to act sober and conversate, mostly in SD as compared to The Bay, crack me up in a painfully awkward way. It reminds me of trying to do the same both out of embarrassment and to prove to myself that I could handle my liquor. OK, it still happens from time too time, but thankfully nowhere near as often. Driving for work is making me realize that I am nowhere near as big of a lush as I thought I was.
– Vacationers and those going out in San Diego are awesome. I get to live vicariously and see them out of the mental restraints and stressors of their lives. Much the same reason why I love airports.
– I am always incredibly thankful to those with experience and tips for the nomadic lifestyle I am still in the first stages of, such as the dude who told me about teaching in Japan for a couple years for $50k a year plus full setup. The hug at the end of our conversation sealed a connection that meant the international world.
– Just yesterday, my first ride was a young woman who seemed to be a miniature memory of me in my mid-twenties. She’s at what was arguably the same place I was at that age and has almost the same insecurities with it as well as the same inspiration and goals. A movie of my life since and all the stages between flashed through my mind in an instant as she told me her story and where she hopes to go.
In honor of the balance in this post, there’s also the not so good. The backward compliments such as a guy from LA telling me I should go back to a blond hair color because I looked so hot that way, those few who treat me like the help and those who are either surprised by my education and experience or think this work is below me. No bueno. Also the people who immediately honk their horn as a light turns green when thinking I’m on the phone (usually on GPS as a driver) along with those who cut others off, won’t let people in or are any other form of nasty drivers. In other words, cockroaches of the road.
Aha, life. I’ll still tell of my stories with Lyft and possibly UBER, but it’s time to get back to the big picture. Now to figure out if I should focus on a goal of 40 or 50 hours per week. It all comes down to how much time I need to focus on my writing, travel and enjoying my friends and city while I’m still here.
One step at a time.
It never stops being one hell of a ride.
Passenger feedback for Oct 7 – 13:
★★★★★ 56 ratings
“Everything and she has snacks for passengers!”
“She’s pretty cool!”
“Totally enjoyable ride.”
“Great car and very warm!”
“You were amazing! Thank you so much, see you in San Diego!”
★★★★ and below 1 ratings