At the end of May 2016, I quit my last call-center job after realizing I can’t sit for eight to ten hours a day in a chair anymore (the month prior to that was sheer agony for me as I was in constant pain from my lower back). In July of 2016, I took on my first gig-economy job which was food delivery. Then later that year I took a gig delivering packages for a contractor for Amazon. Both gigs dried up for me and I started driving for Uber. And I’ve been with Uber ever since.
Now I’ve read a lot of articles about the so-called ‘gig economy’ as its’ referred to. People in the gig economy are independent contractors, meaning we get paid directly and get nothing taken out for taxes, Social Security, and insurance. Which is fine because there are a lot of deductions available, but I won’t go into a tax-talk here (as you should always see a tax professional for any questions related to that). What a lot of detractors to the gig economy will go on about is how there is no minimum wage or benefits and no real protections. I will say a lot of these articles read like class-A click-bait written by people who have no real knowledge of what gigging is like. I spent close to twenty years in the corporate-call center world and all I got out of there with was a few thousand dollars in savings and a slightly-messed up back. And in corporate-call center world there was always the threat of being managed out the door if they decided they didn’t want you there anymore because you wouldn’t drink the Kool-Aid the way they wanted you to. (And yes I know that sounds terrible but it was my experience, and a story for another time)
The reason I keep gigging is that I’ve been out of the job market for too long and would have to do some serious ass-kissing and groveling to get a job and two, I like the freedom I have with my gig job that doesn’t involve Kool-Aid drinking with the sword of Damocles hanging over my head. Now with the gig economy you do make your own hours but in order to earn money you’ve got to work those hours, or hustle as we say. Which is fine by me as I’m not afraid to work. Yes, more money would always be a good thing (and that’s probably coming with the new incentive program Uber is introducing for its’ drivers). But if you ask any gig worker the biggest reason why they do what they do it’s simply put, freedom.
The gig economy is freedom from punching a clock and having a set schedule that life can really mess with. It’s the freedom of not having a supervisor or manager to report to who may not be the right person for the job. It’s the freedom to think on your feet and solve problems without someone nit-picking your decisions to pieces. I will freely admit that my views are seriously-colored by my years in corporate call-center world which is probably one of the most uptight and regimented work environments there is. But I’ve discovered that escaping from that and being on the road of freedom has made me hell-bent on never going back to that prison again.
Now with the gig economy there are ups and downs because supply-and-demand fluctuates. And yes that increased supply and leveled-out or lower demand can depress earnings, but those of us who have stuck with the gig know you just have to ride it out.
But as I’ve told a lot of my passengers in addition to the freedoms above, I’ve also discovered I like being my own boss. Because of all the bosses I’ve ever had I’m my favorite. This freedom and independence is why people like me do what we do and it’s what’s given me the courage to pursue a writing career. Because I know writing, like hustling an Uber, requires a lot of hard work and patience but if something isn’t working you can make changes until you find something that works. Because although a hustle can be a lot of hurry-up-and-wait, it’s never been a soul-sucking grind for me.
So if I had to sum up hustling for a living I’d say this:
– You have the freedom to make your own schedule as you’re not working to the clock.
– Remember the busier it is and the more money you make, the sooner you can go home.
– Be able to think on your feet and solve your own problems.
– Be good to yourself, and to the people who are paying you to do your job.
– You are your own boss so be the boss you always wanted to have.