I had my first shift for DoorDash on Saturday night. I was anxious about my first order, there were many unknowns. The onboarding instructions were about the app's interface, but I was more anxious about the human interface, that is the interactions between the restaurant and myself, and the client and myself. These turned out to be non-issue, the game is not customer service, you could be mute and deaf as a delivery person in this gig economy.
Saturday night was a great time to get started. I live in the middle of downtown, so the city was alive and buzzing with people. I had an extremely lucky find yesterday: one of the docks in the bixi station nearest to my apartment released the bike, but registers it as an error, so the app thinks you don't have a bike when you have one. This means that I can use the bike all night without having to return it to a station every 45 minutes.
It also means that I can park my bike outside a restaurant or a customer without fear of it being taken and charged $50 for a lost bike. It's very unlikely to happen, people don't really steal Bixis but something may happen--for example, late in the night a group of drunk young men commented out loud "hey someone left a bixi just parked here!", but did nothing about it. If I do this for long enough, I'm sure eventually someone will take my bike for a ride and then dump it somewhere.
This is moral gray zone for me, I don't feel entirely comfortable finding a loophole in Bixi's service (especially because I am a big fan of it), but I feel even less comfortable that I risk losing four hours of work because some bozo could grab my bike and take it for a ride. Even though the harm done to the ridesharing system is almost zero I am putting the risk of loss on the company.
I'm enjoying using my body to work as much as I expected. Yesterday I had my second shift and I was surprised to find myself looking forward to it. I see most drivers have weary looks and long faces. I'm not all smiles or anything but I'm liking what I'm doing while it's evident that other people don't.
The past year I was in Toronto when I saw a really strong guy with massive quads on a racing bike doing deliveries. He weaved the traffic with skill and I thought: there is someone who is being paid for pleasure. As fate often has it, I crossed paths with him again at a park. He had stationed his bike on a picnic table and was having lunch.
"Hey, I saw you on the streets a while ago, you're amazing with traffic!"--he beamed with pride. "you gotta love it to be willing to make $15/h" he answered. After chatting a bit it turned out we were the same age an in a similar station in life. This guy made me understand I would enjoy the gig, but not be paid much for it. That's ballpark what I'm making at this time, a serious downgrade from my professional pay. At the rate I'm enjoying it at this time, I would turn down generic computer work if my pay was $20/h (but not fun work like blank.page, that's another league).
But I wont enjoy it for too long. This is exactly what I need at this time. When the dopamine fuelled thrill of completing orders and weaving through traffic dies down, I will find the pay not worth my effort, and I will transition to something else.
My Saturday night shift ended at 4:30am. Someone ordered three panini from a 24h place. It was crowded and I had to wait to get the order fulfilled. I informed my customer. No response. I took the order to the address listed. It turned out to be the W Montreal, a posh hotel located at the bottom of a very steep road I would have to climb back up to get home. The instructions were to leave at the door of his suite, but none was listed. I tried calling, no response. I texted, no response. I asked the receptionist about the name, not listed as a guest. I contacted support, they were utterly useless ("follow the drop off instructions", I think they are a call center in India).
Between these frustrations I noticed a resentment growing in me: here I am, at 4:30am trying to get food to a rich asshole who surely went out partying and then fell asleep before his order arrived. His tip was meager ($1) and I was wasting my time trying to get him food when I was tired and hungry myself. I now understood what the younger generation complains about, they are dispossessed, disrespected, dehumanized and underpaid.
As reception wouldn't take the order because it didn't belong to a guest, I went outside the hotel and took the proof of delivery photo at the door of the hotel. I then grabbed the bag and walked to the park in front of the hotel, and promptly downed two of the sandwiches. I was still fuming, but then I thought: why fume, if this is a gift given to me by a careless customer? I was hungry and now I'm eating his order while being paid for it.
Then my mindset changed. I was vaguely recalled some words in the bible which I now dug up:
Looking at his disciples, [Jesus] said: 'Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.'
Luke 6:20-21 (NIV)
Indeed. Why would I understand as abuse what is in reality a blessing? Thank you, rich and careless customer.