What is it like returning to DoorDash delivery driving after taking a lot of time off? Dasher extraordinaire Dash Bridges returned to one weekend of dashing to take advantage of a big bonus (similar to the bonuses rideshare drivers are seeing!) and share what’s changed about DoorDash – plus how much he earned in one weekend.
That was the extent of Michael Jordan’s 1996 press release when he returned to the Chicago Bulls after 18 months playing minor-league baseball.
I dashed consistently for 4 ½ years & 6123 deliveries. Then l quit Dashing on March 12, 2020, for pandemic-related safety concerns. During that time, I rode a fortunate streak of a federal tax refund, stimulus check, three months of mortgage deferral and California gig economy Unemployment Insurance to keep me afloat. Then I stumbled into a WFH contract position that went full-time. I’m very lucky to make enough money at my day job to quit Dashing permanently.
Then they pulled me back in.
Recently, I faced a weekend that included no girlfriend (don’t ask), no kids, and absolutely no plans. While many of you would love such a scenario, I wasn’t looking forward to this blank calendar.
Then I got a text:
Time to Dash Again
I’d seen hundreds of promotions in my Dashing career. Some good, some laughable. But this one was potentially exceptional. If I could knock out 25 deliveries in one weekend, I could earn an additional $8 per order.
Recalling past experience (my article on DoorDash driver pay), I figured 25 deliveries might take 12-16 hours of Dash time (not including the 25-min commute to my preferred region), and with the bonus I could make $425 or more (25 deliveries X $9.00 per, +$200 bonus).
I had no plans, and no opportunities to make plans, so I committed myself to 1) knock out 25 deliveries, come hell or high water, and 2) do it safely. Furthermore, I had been wavering on whether to treat myself to an expensive indulgence. If I earned this extra money, I’d do it.
Concerns About Returning to DoorDash: Nerves
Part of my reluctance to follow through was actual nerves about Dashing. I kept up with the Facebook Groups and Twitter follows and saw stories about Instacart-type shopping orders, seven-stop community-pantry deliveries and other unusual responsibilities. I suddenly felt unprepared.
Apparently, others did too. For instance:
(BTW, Dashers have jokes!)
After some anguished inner dialogue, I decided to go for it even though THIS gave me painful flashbacks:
Undeterred, I jumped in my Prius around 6:45pm Friday night and started driving towards my old dashing grounds.
Five minutes later I realized all my insulated bags were in storage, not my trunk *sigh*. Turning around…
When I finally signed in, after a year away, I saw something new. This ratings display:
This display wasn’t available when I last dashed. I like the breakdown of my 4.85 rating, though I wish I could see how I got those 1s.
My first order was a pickup from a familiar restaurant. When I confirmed my arrival, I saw a new feature I advocated for in the past.
We’ve all had that problem where you’re done for the night but it’s super busy and you have to decline 3-4 orders before the app ‘lets’ you sign out. The ‘Stop Orders After This Delivery’ button is so convenient. Bravo! The ‘Avoid Tolls’ option was also new, but it doesn’t apply here in the Bay Area unless you agree to cross a bridge.
Secondly, I realized they integrated the Maps apps into the platform.
I was a master at toggling between the Dashing App and Maps repeating, “the number is 1265, 1265, 1265” to remember addresses, as Google Maps always had location pins, not house numbers. The phone app interaction while driving isn’t safe. Now with an up-scroll, it was more convenient and helped keep my eyes on the road.
Again, what’s routine for most of you was new to me:
I sometimes took photos of drop-offs as a courtesy (and CYA) in the past, and I’m happy it’s an official process. I’ve never been accused of stealing food, but I know many of you have. I welcome any process that averts these issues.
I always forget that Friday night can be disappointingly slow. I finished with 6 deliveries, the minimum Friday haul I expected for this effort to be a success. I needed at least 12-14 deliveries Saturday to avoid a stressful Sunday
Weekend DoorDash Delivering
Saturday afternoon was a classic bad shift. Not only were deliveries sparse:
I got a stark reminder that some customers are thoughtless:
I changed regions, and thankfully the Saturday night rush began. My fortunes improved significantly, but I was reminded of an issue that Dashers despise, which is no fault of the platform: Bad signage.
I reached this complex to find a specific condo. Do you know where my entrance was in this map? THE TOP. So as I try to imagine where I’m going in this complex. I need to remember that up is down and left is right. SO DUMB. Get it together, Tamarind Square management!
Throughout the weekend I noticed how efficiently restaurants process orders. I spent MAYBE 30 minutes total waiting at restaurants for food over the course of my weekend, which includes lines.
Whether an independent place or a large chain, many have mastered the pickup-only game. Without the competing priorities of in-restaurant dining, they’re really more food manufacturers than restaurants these days. How will they adjust when they reopen to in-person dining?
Because I was more interested in volume than value (don’t worry, I didn’t accept any grossly lowball orders), I’d deliver an order and immediately drive towards the most popular restaurant in the area. I may get an order on the way, but if not, I knew I could wait outside a specific Thai restaurant and receive an order within 10 minutes.
After completing 22 deliveries over Friday and Saturday, I only needed three more to reach my goal. However, I’m one of those Dashers who (unreasonably) suspects that DoorDash might want to push orders just past the end of a promo period, or in this case, deny me orders on Sunday to save their $200. So I signed on around 4:45 to make sure I wasn’t scrambling at 11:35.
I found the last of my new features when picking up a double order.
In early 2020, this offer would be two orders arriving separately. If the first order was questionable, I might decline it without knowing a second order would follow. Most of the time, the ability to pick up multiple orders benefits us, so combining orders on a single acceptance is a welcome development.
How Much Did I Earn?
After only an hour on the road, I completed my 25th delivery. I received this congratulatory message:
Woot! I completed one additional order JUST IN CASE I lost one on a technicality. I closed out the app and finished with this:
Having expected $20/hr over the years, this opportunity was a rousing success. Earning over $30/hr was a great weekend. By the way, how did I do? Am I still a good Dasher? Did I get any five-star votes?
Nope. Out of 26 deliveries, no one bothered to send a rating.
Over the next few days, I received many more Dasher offers than I had before my return. Apparently, fifteen hours on the app recategorized me from a sought-after former dasher to someone they thought could be enticed for less:
By the way, the ‘expensive indulgence’ I mentioned as part of my motivation? It’s this guy:
I recently started collecting Metallica gig posters, and I was obsessed with the 2017 Iowa Speedway print that now adorns the center of my very modest collection. I wouldn’t have splurged if I didn’t earn the extra cash. Hey, we all have our dashing motivations, right?
Drive safely, everyone!
Ready to sign up for DoorDash? You can get started with DoorDash here.
Have you recently begun delivery or rideshare driving again? How was it like getting back on the road?
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-Dash @ RSG