On Monday, March 16, 2020, I was going about my regular day. Shuffling passengers back and forth to their destinations. I had just completed a drop off at SFO airport and had my next passenger in tow. We engaged in idle chit chat about a certain “bug” that was going around. He asked if business had been affected by it, and I told him so far it hadn’t. Then the voice of London Breed, the mayor of San Francisco came onto the radio as if on queue. She announced a stay-at-home order, I believe the first in the nation. My passenger and I shared a laugh at the seeming coincidence and parted ways. At that point I decided to turn off my app and call it a day. I checked my earnings, nearly $200 for just under 8 hours of driving. Not bad. My work week was off to a good start.
Then came Tuesday, March 17, 2020, I woke up the same time as the day before. Took my same route I always took. Drove the same number of hours as I always drove. By the end of the day, I had made a whopping $17… In 8 hours. Now the ride share business always had fluctuations in the amount of money you would make in a day. On a good day I could make as much as $260. On the slower days I’d make around $120 in 8 hours (I know some drivers who averaged a lot more, but I could never replicate their success). But the contrast between my Monday earnings and Tuesday earnings was enough to shake me out of my comfort zone. I needed something more stable, and I needed it now!
My plan was simple, just two steps. Step 1, find something immediately to replace the money I was losing. Step 2 was to find a long-term income replacement. The first step was simple enough. I was able to secure part time work at an Amazon warehouse. It had been five years since I’d worked in manual labor, so it was an adjustment, but it at least it was a steady check. Next, I had to decide what my long-term working goal would be. I decided to teach myself how to code. It seemed like the perfect fit for me. I loved the idea of remote work. It was what initially attracted me to ride share. The ability to turn on my app and make money anywhere with my car would become the ability to turn on my laptop from anywhere and make money.
Programming was a skill I could take with me anywhere. So, I spent months teaching myself how to code in my spare time. I was highly motivated when I first began so it was easy to spend hours practicing my new craft. Then by the end of summer I was beginning to burn out. The more I learned it seemed like there was even more I didn’t know how to do. I became overwhelmed trying to learn everything I possibly could so I would be ready for absolutely any situation. I wasn’t sure what I needed to know to be employable. I also had no idea how to network or make an appealing resume. So, my motivation slowly died down, and the procrastination began to kick in. I made less and less time to code, and I was getting used to my routine at Amazon. Before I knew it, I had stopped studying coding altogether and quietly accepted the idea of Amazon being my permanent job.
Everything changed when Amazon switched my shift from mornings to nights. I found my new shift to be a bad fit for my lifestyle. Suddenly I began to think about other options again. So, I became an interim driver trainer. For 4 months I was temporarily taken from the night shift and placed back on days for my new role. I tried to become permanent in the driver trainer position, but my all attempts had fallen through. I was on a ticking clock; it was only a matter of time before I would once again have to go back to the night shift which I did not want. So, I again began to look for alternatives. I had seen the flyers for Amazon’s career choice program hanging in the bathroom before and ignored them, but now I an incentive to pay attention. Although I had forgotten everything, I taught myself by this time, I was sure it would come back to me. I felt like this time would be different because I would be forming a connection with an actual teacher and other students. So, I went for it.
And then as if it was all preordained everything fell into place. The new Driver trainer they hired quit within his first week, and now they were ready to give me an interview. I became a full-time Driver Trainer at the same time I was accepted into the career choice program. So even if I don’t find a job writing code, at least I don’t have to go back to the dreaded night shift. I’m not sure what the future will be, but from where I’m standing it looks bright.