97 for the week with a rating system between 1-5. For some reason, I really cared about my rating even though I wasn’t even close to getting put on probation.
FEELINGS OF SADNESS
Instead of experiencing continued excitement, like a kid who just got a new toy, I started feeling tremendous sadness shuttling people around for money. I felt like I was rewinding my life back 24 years to the days when I got yelled at for not making the perfect Egg McMuffin while making only $3.65 an hour. I felt trapped, with the lure of the next fare pushing me to keep on going.
I’ve got a 2015 leased econocar for $235/month that’s covered under warranty, so my maintenance expenses should be minimal for the next three years. But let’s realistically say after Uber commission (25%), gas (10%), and maintenance (5%), I’m only pulling down 60% of my gross earnings of $35/hour. That’s $21/hour before taxes, which gets cut down by another 25% or so for a net after tax earnings of $. One accident or maintenance mishap could easily blow a week or two weeks of earnings out the window!
$ in net earnings is barely enough to survive in an expensive city like San Francisco. Even if I worked 40 hours a week, I’d only bring in $2,520 a month. I guess I could share a crummy 2/1 apartment in a bad area with another person for $1,200 a month. But with only $1,320 left to spend, I’ll be stuck spinning my wheels forever. Such a far cry from the $500,000 a year couple I profiled, who are also stuck in neutral!
The other thing that gets me down are some of the people I meet. I picked up one early 20s Hispanic woman who was kissing her baby goodbye before handing her precious over to her mom when I arrived at 6:30am. I was in a lower middle class area of Daly City, about 10 miles south of San Francisco. The woman got in Rhino, all sleepy eyed and confirmed Portrero Hill as the destination. Right before arrival, she told me she was going in early to do the 7 am – 11 am shift at Wholefoods so she could get some lunch before working another four-hour shift at a retail store in Fisherman’s Wharf, three miles north of there.
Life can’t be easy for this woman. I kept on thinking in my head: You go girl! You are so awesome for working hard. Don’t give up! May you and your child have a great future! I felt proud of her work ethic and I felt proud to be an American.
APPRECIATE WHAT YOU HAVE
For the longest time, I’ve felt that life should be pretty easy if you work hard, be a nice person, and take some calculated risks. But after speaking to over 100 passengers, I’m reminded that life is not so straight forward. There’s so much luck involved with getting ahead. It’s hard to get a true idea of how lucky we are without hearing other people’s stories.
I wonder how on Earth the two kids I dropped off in the Projects can successfully compete against private school children with all the tutoring money can buy. Is the mother who works a minimum wage job at Wholefoods destined to forever stay stuck in similar occupations? It’s a shame public transportation is so bad or housing is so expensive that she has to take a $14 Uber ride. How will she ever get ahead?
I question the sustainability of Uber’s business model, which keeps cutting fares to the point where all they’ll have are drivers who simply sign up for the free $50 gas card or the up to $300 driver bonus after giving their 20th ride.