Life as an independent contractor during a pandemic

Since then, gas prices have plummeted, restaurant delivery has skyrocketed…

By Wayne Boyd

After working for 17 years at a state prison in Amarillo, Texas, even as a pandemic was beginning to spread across the nation, I decided to retire. After all, I was 67 years old and eligible for a) social security, b) a lifetime pension from TDCJ, and c) health insurance for life for my wife and myself. Not too shabby.

Furthermore, for the last 2 years I had been picking up Uber and Lyft passengers in my spare time, and more recently started restaurant deliveries with companies like GrubHub, DoorDash and Uber Eats. Why not continue that after retirement?

My wife and I discussed my options and decided that retirement would be okay if I could earn about $50 a day driving doing deliveries. Then we upped the figure to $70 because we wanted to account for wear and tear on the vehicle and gas prices. In other words, I’d be making a profit of $50 a day after gas, or $1,500 a month added to my social security and pension income. It would be more than comfortable.

Since then, gas prices have plummeted, restaurant delivery has skyrocketed, and working only a few hours a day I’m averaging $170 a day. I’m pulling in about $160/day profit, or $4,800/month, $3,300 more than projected to live comfortably.

I stopped picking up passengers with Uber and Lyft and just do the delivery now. I’m safer and there’s been no drop in income. Lyft sent me an email informing me how vital it was to have drivers and how desperately needed drivers were to move people around. I ignored the message.

As a side note, I’ve been a vegetarian since before I was old enough to vote. I wish I could get the world to stop eating meat, but that’s obviously not going to happen. So I decided okay, I can deliver food to these people and make a bunch of money. I won’t eat what they eat, but I was already delivering inmates food trays, why not drop off bags of food at people’s homes?

So for me, life is good now. In fact, it’s much better financially than before, even as many millions of Americans are losing their jobs in the midst of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

I just hope the State of Texas continues to afford my monthly pension check and the federal government continues to send me social security money.