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Saturday, April 8, 2017

I'm my own boss now, kind of.

So I'm am Uber driver now. Technically I'm a Lyft driver too but turns out I can't run both apps on my phone simultaneously so right now I'm just doing Uber because there's more people on the system.

In case you've lived under a rock for the last 3 years, Uber (and Lyft) is a for-hire rideshare company. You are basically an independent contractor for the company. You use your own car, pay your own gas and maintenance (but you can use it as a tax write off come tax time) and drive people to destinations. Ubering as a passenger is a bit too rich for my blood, but I think the system works well for several things:
1. Your car breaks down. Especially if it breaks down in a place that would require a lot of walking to get out of.
2. You're drunk. This is the biggest one.
3. Parking at the place you're going to is atrocious. read: Seattle. I'm actually thinking about doing an UberPool to get me to Cal Anderson Park for the Science March on April 22nd.

What it takes to become an Uber driver is slightly involved, especially for the state of Washington. Uber will:
1. Run a background check
2. Inspect your car
3. Require proof of license/insurance/registration
4. Ask you to complete a Tacoma quiz
5. Ask you to take a (free!) Defensive Driving online course.
6. Buy a business license ($25 if you intend on making less than $12,000 a year)
If you want to drive in Seattle you will also have to take a Seattle quiz, and buy a Seattle business license AND a State of WA business license. I was like, um, no thanks! (So I'm actually not able to pick up anybody outside of Pierce County. I can drop them off anywhere, though.)

After all that is done, you are set! I spent a bit to get my car "Uber ready". This included buying a stun gun (yup!), a multiple-plug car charger, longer usb cables, mini waters, and this neat storage net that fits between my car seats. I also have some emesis bags just in case. 

I also made this cute little sign:

So what prompted me to sign up for Uber, you ask? Believe it or not, it was Derek. Remember Derek? I dated him for 3 months like two years ago.  We reconnected over a year ago and are friends now (some people may think this is weird. Probably everybody. I don't care. We didn't click as a couple and I'd never date his ass ever again but he's a very interesting person and a riot to hang out with). When I went up north to visit him recently, he had signed up for Uber to make extra cash, and I ended up on a couple of his runs (shhh! That's against the rules, don't tell anyone.) So I got to see first hand what it was like.

Now, fair warning if you are interested in doing this. It's not as "lucrative" as some people would make you believe. Yes, the more you work the more you make, this is true. You are your own boss. Go nuts. However, the more you drive the more gas you spend. And up here in WA gas is pretty damn expensive. Uber takes 25% of everything you make. And a $300 payout (example) may seem huge, but if you don't take the taxes out and put it aside, you'll be hurting come tax time. In Tacoma, Uber pings (as they're called; the requests) are not constant. I'm often driving around waiting (it works kind of like sonar. The closest person to the request when it is made gets the offer to accept it.) for a ping. I don't get paid to drive around. I also don't get paid when I'm driving to pick somebody up. (nor do I get paid after I drop them off! I had to drive home from Des Moines once!) You also need to be aware that most insurance companies in the State of WA will not insure you if you choose to drive for a rideshare company, or they will not insure you while you are online with them. I had to drop Progressive @ $80 a month and start fresh with State Farm, who offers TNC coverage for (a total of) $130. So that's another added expense. 

If none of that detours you, feel free to use my code and sign up, as we will both get a bonus for doing so, once you hit 40 rides.

Happy Ubering! 

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