Throughout the pandemic, the media, rideshare and delivery companies, and even we have wondered what drivers were doing instead of rideshare driving. Where had all the drivers gone? It turns out, many drivers have been planning their Plan Bs, and the pandemic just pushed them to accelerate those plans. Other drivers shared they’re still driving, just a lot less due to pandemic concerns. Senior RSG contributor Paula Gibbins shares feedback from drivers on what they’re doing instead of driving below.
Many drivers use rideshare as a means to an end. It’s a way of filling in the gaps of employment or to get the ball rolling on their Plan B (or C or D). But what are these drivers doing now that rideshare driving is in the rearview mirror?
Part-Time Driver, Full-Time Poker Player
Allison from California used to do rideshare full-time and play poker part-time. Now the tables have turned. She still does rideshare on occasion, but prefers spending her time at the tables earning her keep, as well as other odd jobs around town.
Allison had been driving for Uber full-time from 2016 until the pandemic. She’d drive as much as 50-70 hours a week, 7 days a week and averaging around 120 rides each week. Back then, she said Uber offered a lot of bonuses and incentives to stay on the road, plus pay was better in general.
Now, it’s sporadic and unpredictable. Plus, with the minimum wage in her area being raised to $15/hr., it’s more lucrative to get a part-time job basically anywhere else. You earn the money without putting the wear and tear on your vehicle, paying high prices for gas, maintenance and insurance.
But, how can you make money at poker? Well, of course, it is risky. Her game is Limit Texas Hold ‘Em. Allison prefers limit versus no-limit because the bets are more structured and you can’t just lose everything every other hand (if people go big with astronomically large bets).
“Even though skill is involved in playing poker, you still have no guarantee,” explained Allison. “Just because you have a great hand and you’re a great player doesn’t mean you’re going to win the pot.”
Allison said that poker goes in streaks of luck and losing your luck. When you’re in an unlucky streak, you have to be able to realize it, recognize it and be okay with it. When you’re in a lucky streak, realize that you might want to try to win more money that day because tomorrow your luck may shift.
Her goal is to earn between $200-$400 each time she goes in to play. “It could be one hour, it could be 10 hours,” Allison said.
However, Allison doesn’t recommend anyone to leave their jobs to pursue earning money playing poker. It’s just something she enjoys doing and will supplement her income as needed with other skills she possesses.
Woodworking in the Midwest
Driver Adam from Minnesota has been Ubering for about 4 years. He’s starting to slow down on Uber driving though and focusing on his passion—woodworking.
He’s been playing around with the idea of building more things with wood for years, but never had the space for the tools and wood that he’d need to turn it into something more. During this summer Adam moved into a home with a 3-car garage, so he can finally expand his working area and get the tools he’s wanted for years.
Driving for Uber helped fund the move and the purchasing of the tools and materials to stock up the garage. “I’ll still Uber occasionally if I need it until my woodworking business picks up,” said Adam. “It’s still decent money and can help out in a pinch.”
Cargo Driving in California
Jim shared on Facebook that he’s been a “hotshot” driver for almost 2 years now. He lives in the Los Angeles area, and as he said, “I pick up cargo that doesn’t talk back nor does it vomit.”
A hotshot driver is an independent contractor who picks up cargo in a small box truck and delivers the cargo locally or cross country. Jim does it cross country and chargers about $1.10 per mile “for a normal load”.
“My first year of Hotshotting I was able to earn $90,000, this year will be less because I’m enjoying the fruits and labor of last year’s profit gains,” explained Jim.
Limo Driving, Park Ranger, Census & More Opportunities
Others shared little tidbits on Facebook about what they are up to now. Several are still doing driving gigs of some kind.
Don is driving a limousine and says there is a lot of demand for that right now, so he’s keeping busy.
Alexander said, “I ditched it entirely during 2020. Turned my seasonal park ranger gig into a full time one. With benefits.”
Barney “did the census gig” last summer. He said, “it was predominantly door-to-door, with masks on in the stifling heat of summer. Was supposed to start in April but got delayed due to the pandemic. Pay was decent. And no obnoxious riders!”
However, Barney did also mention there was a bit of hostility toward him and one person even threatened him with a gun.
Randy said, “I became a YouTuber and never looked back.”
And many others are doing a wide variety of non-rideshare gigs!
Rideshare-Associated Opportunities: Writing for RSG
And then there’s myself. I have significantly cut down on driving for Uber and Lyft because I was able to increase my freelance writing and secure a full-time job in my field.
I got started with Uber when I was unexpectedly let go from an open-ended contract position. With one week’s notice, I wasn’t able to find anything that quickly, so I turned to rideshare as an option.
I was signed up and ready to drive within 3 days. Without rideshare driving, I wouldn’t have been able to pay the bills or rent or do much of anything. I drove as many hours as I needed to cover everything until I found a full-time job, but then I still needed Uber to help supplement my income for a while.
Now, I’m to a point where I have a high enough paying full-time job and I greatly enjoy my freelance writing gig. I’ll still do rideshare if a new feature is live that needs to be tested or just to stay active on the platform, but that’s about it.
Did you used to be a rideshare driver? What are you up to now? Did rideshare gigs help you get where you are today? Share your story below!
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-Paula @ RSG