If you drive for rideshare companies for long enough, you’ve likely cycled through some feelings about the work you do, your place in the world, and your thoughts about Uber and Lyft. Below, contributor-at-large Jay Cradeur shares his take on the four types of rideshare drivers. They may be stages or simply types – let us know if you agree or disagree with his take in the comments below!
As a regular watcher of The Rideshare Guy’s Show Me The Money Club show on YouTube, I sometimes notice how many comments left by viewers can be very negative. There was quite a bit of anger and frustration about how Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash treat drivers.
I used to be that angry driver. I even had a podcast called Rideshare Dojo which featured guests who would explain why Uber and Lyft were so difficult to work with and why we had every right to be angry.
Watching various SMTMC shows, I started to think about the different mindsets a driver can have during their rideshare driving career. In this article, I will share four I have experienced throughout the past seven years.
See if you identify yourself in any of these categories. You may realize you want to change categories.
4 Types of Rideshare Drivers
1) The Happy Ant
The first thing you might ask yourself is: What is an Ant? I was called an Ant when I started to write articles and make videos for The Rideshare Guy early in my career. According to our Ultimate Guide to Rideshare Driver Lingo, an ant is:
Ant: let’s call them hard-working, accepting every trip regardless of profitability, content with what Uber/Lyft/DoorDash feeds them, no planning, just trying to make the daily revenue goal they set before leaving the house regardless of how long it takes them to do so.
When I started driving in 2015, that was me. I was a happy ant.
I loved the job, driving, and making money. $2,000 a week was my goal. I had yet to figure out how to use the system to maximize my profits, but I didn’t need to. Uber and Lyft paid San Francisco drivers $500 weekly bonuses based on ride volume. So every morning I got in my car, and I drove.
As Nicolas Cage said in Wild At Heart: “Stab it and steer.” Are you a happy ant?
2) Angry Independent Contractor
This was the next phase of my career. Both Uber and Lyft were reducing their bonuses. Then they started offering bonuses to new drivers that they would not provide to seasoned drivers.
It was so frustrating. All we want is a level playing field based on merit. Unfortunately, we did not have it. Every month, Uber and Lyft took something else away from the drivers.
As I talked to drivers on my podcast, my anger grew. I began to realize that Uber and Lyft treated me as an employee without any of the benefits of being an employee. As Will Ferrel said in Elf: “He’s an angry elf.” Are you an Angry I.C.?
3) Self Exiled Prisoner
At some level, we are all prisoners of our minds. We carry some self-limiting beliefs which force us to live lives far less generous and magnanimous than possible.
In the rideshare space, I came to a place of feeling like a prisoner. I needed to drive to make money. I got used to the money. Then with all the pay cuts, I had to drive longer and longer to achieve the same financial goals. If I had to drive, I had to use Uber and Lyft.
Even though I hated so many of their policies and changes, I had no choice. At least, that is what I told myself. I had created a prison of my own mind. I had given up, and nothing was getting better. Being angry was no longer working for me. Instead, I felt resignation.
This was my lowest point as a driver. As I was hitting this phase, the pandemic struck, and I left rideshare driving.
I could not drive, so I had to find something else to do. In its unpredictable way, life intervened and put me on a new path. However, I have learned that I can change my life when it is not working. We may feel like prisoners, but we always have options.
As Gerard Butler said in the movie 300: “Well, that’s an easy choice for us. Spartans never retreat.” Are you a Self Exiled Prisoner?
4) Creator/Tool User
Life becomes a creative act for all of us at some point. I got to this point in my mid-fifties when I went to Thailand to write a book. Suddenly, while swimming in the warm Andaman Sea, I realized I could do just about anything I wanted to do.
When this energy is applied to rideshare driving, a driver flourishes. Rideshare driving has become a tool that can be used for a plethora of personal goals. If you want to go to night school, you can drive during the day to make extra money. If you work a regular job Monday through Friday, you can jump in your car, drive a full day on Saturday, and make an extra couple of hundred dollars.
I remember interviewing one guy for the podcast, and he would drive from Davis to San Francisco every Friday through Sunday. He would sleep in his car in a Safeway parking lot and shower at a health club. He would drive and net $1,000 for his hard work.
This driver supported his family this way while he was pursuing graduate school. When I interviewed him, he had just graduated and landed his dream job. His driving days were over.
For most drivers, we aspire to use our talents and our gifts in a way that serves the world while providing for our families and loved ones. We find that anger does not serve us any longer. Instead, we work. We grind. We get the results we need to achieve what we most want in life.
Rideshare driving becomes a tool for us to achieve very aspirational goals. As Anthony Hopkins said in the movie Mission Impossible: Mr. Hunt, this isn’t mission difficult; it’s mission impossible. “Difficult” should be a walk in the park for you. Are you a Creator / Tool User?
As I watch and listen to the SMTMC and read the comments, I realized I have felt every emotion associated with being a rideshare driver and working for Uber and Lyft. I have never worked for Door Dash, so I don’t know the frustration that seems to be dominating many drivers’ feelings. I have only dealt with rideshare driving companies.
From them, I have learned a great deal about myself. How about you? Do you see yourself in any of the four categories? I see myself in all of them.
If you’re not sure what your ‘what’s next’ is, consider walking yourself through all the stages of rideshare driving and being a gig worker. What stage are you in? What stage do you want to be in?
If you need a break from rideshare driving, check out our suggestions on the best gig jobs, and if you like driving, these flexible alternatives to Uber and Lyft.
Have you ever taken a break from rideshare? How did it go and what did you do instead?
-Jay @ RSG