I might have mentioned recently that I’m strapped for cash and thus trapped in that headspace which isn’t quite money-hungry (sounds greedy that way) but money-thirsty, which is to say “desperate,” and so in that desperation I had what struck me as the genius idea to start delivering food with a ride-share service—and I had no illusion about the ease of it, but I did kinda…relax.
I allowed myself to relax. To think, “OK, I’ve found the thing that will help me to round out my expenses.”
Started fantasizing recklessly about walking into McDonalds with a new flannel shirt, Charlie fuckin Potatoes, and when the now-familiar cashier say to me, “The usual?” I’d say, “No, Patty: make my fries…large.” And Patricia, bless her heart, she’d gasp, maybe lose her footing for a moment and clutch the register, the night air around us peppered with the sound of nipples popping erect at the news of my sudden wealth.
And thus you can imagine my surprise when, over the course of seven hours delivering, I made about $50. A little less than minimum wage—reduced even farther when I had to use a chunk of those earnings to re-fill my gas tank.
I was a little mad and started thinking in my frustration that the whole thing’s a scam.
Or not quite.
My friend Bob put it beautifully when he said, “You’re overworking your car, taking money out of its resale value and putting it in your pocket because you’re desperate.”
When standing at the counters in these restaurants I would find myself huddling among sweat-soaked and frazzled-looking delivery drivers who need to get this delivery done fast because they’re only gonna get $3 for it.
The app advertises itself as a means for people to score a few easy bucks on the side and the commercials tend to depict the drivers as youngish adults with stylish hair and well-fitting clothes and bucketloads of energy and pep.
But this of course is a fiction.
Same goes for the way that, in McDonalds commercials, the dining rooms are shown to host happy healthy families who laugh and play and snuggle and chat.
Have you eaten in a McDonalds dining room recently? It looks like the occupants of a morgue were roused from death and made to play checkers.
It’s almost a cultural joke at this point to observe that the people working at McDonalds are there for lack of a better opportunity (there was a douchebag teacher at my friend Lynda’s high school who would staple McDonalds applications to the backs of essays he thought were bad) and, given the danger of the work (hot oil, slicing instruments, frequent robbery and the temperamental tides of latenight drunken customers) and the paucity of pay and the intensity of the labor—it’s safe to guess that employees over a certain age are driven to work at McDonalds out of desperation.
The same might be said of ride-share and delivery services.
They’re businesses that thrive on the financial desperation of their employees, and the fact that financial desperation is so ubiquitous. And thus, finding myself so poorly compensated for my labor at the end of seven hours (but compensated just enough that I can’t say I was scammed), I felt like I’d been driven by circumstances to the desk of a cigar-chomping mobster who massages your back while slowly breaking it.
But anyway. I’m still processing the whole thing. These are just some thoughts on the coolheaded morning after a latenight rage.