Earning a Living

(participating in Capitalism under protest)

I posted the section below (all that math stuff) on FB back in February. This is about just how little income many ‘gig economy’ independent contractors are making so folks can stay inside and wait for dinner to be delivered. Yes, it’s location-specific, and drivers have, in theory, other options. No one is guaranteed (at least, not yet) a minimum basic income.

Perhaps telling my story will start a conversation, or contribute to another.

It does bring to mind that adage about not learning from history. Whether asking why peasants revolt, what is the high cost of churn (America On-Line discs anyone?) or is this symptomatic of the rush to placate a spiritual void with yet more cheap stuff? Perhaps a rumination on ‘Man’s inhumanity to Man’.

This continues my series of observations on participating, under duress, in the end-stage of consumption capitalism. There’s a list of some related posts down below.

The reason I’m posting it here, now, is my comments today on the tweet machine:
Ty @NeginFarsad for touching on the Fair Wage movement (deleting ‘tipped job’ low minimums) in this week’s #FakeTheNation. A great step forward. The racist, sexist, classist system needs to ‘go into the dustbin of history’. 1/2

A potential unintended consequence might be reduced desire to tip ‘gig workers’ [independent contractors] such as myself. Delivering restaurant orders here in Central OH already a struggle.2/2

While becoming an employee of the company who’s app I use might sound like a good idea, that also has issues. In Ohio, as with too many states, becoming an employee, even Full-Time, is not the windfall some think. A minimum wage and requiring OT pay after 40 hours a week- but not mandatory paid Vacation, Holidays or Sick time. Most positions would be part-time- very specific busy times- and possibly limited choice in scheduling. And in return, no ability to take or reject orders, and possibly having routes planned and monitored as tightly as the national parcel delivery services (and that’s another whole bag of doo-doo).

Again, sharing my experience to put a face and name to “your driver“.

Facebook profile picRecently someone shared a magazine article with advice for “tipping in the modern world”.

As someone who supplements retirement benefits by delivering restaurant orders, I have thoughts. Ignoring, for the moment, the racist, sexist, classist nature of tipping. Tipping as a percentage of your order total makes a modicum of sense when eating/drinking inside an establishment. The larger your bill, likely the more work your Server has done. And the longer you sat there.

With delivery, my major expenses are my Time and Distance. Neither has much relationship to your bill. Over the years (been doing this since Mar.2018) I’ve found that the best average delivery cycle I can expect is 15 minutes- although 20 min. is more likely. And longer with fancy restaurants who often bump Delivery App orders to lowest priority. So an average 4/hour is good. That’s during lunch or dinner time, with a mix of ‘fast food’ and other restaurants. And enough orders for every driver.

To gross $18/hour excluding mileage (not really high, as an independent contractor with small biz taxes and other expenses) means $4.50 per order just for my time. And then there’s mileage. The IRS has posted $0.655/ mile as their approved rate for 2023. None of the apps, afaik, pretend to pay even half that.

The offers I get include few runs under 2 mi, plenty over 10mi. At an average of 7 miles, the mileage expense is about $4.60. So we’re over $9 without including mileage or time in between orders… and I have not done a non-stop 3 hour block in almost 3 years.

$4.50 for time, on an order,
$4.60 mileage, on an order,
$2.25 for time in between, or extra slow restaurants,
$1.95 mileage driving back to busy area.
13.30 per order, medium income,
-3.75 average app co offer (x tip)
$9.55 average tip which wouldn’t be making me rich.
And not what I’m averaging.

This is in Columbus OH- not a super-expensive place to live. And perhaps less generous than some other areas. I know there are other jobs paying well, but a variety of medical conditions limit my options. Strict time limits- standing, sitting, screen times.

This is a barely acceptable option.

Comment Added April 9th:
Update- 2 months later. The average offer, excluding tip, has fallen about a dollar~ down to $2.80. My expenses haven’t fallen, and tips are not increasing.

Related Posts:
Machine- Produced Wealth;
Trickle Down Economics;
Personal Responsibility;
Fight For Fifteen;
Corporate Fundamentalism;
This Liberal Nation..

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