A peek inside the life of gig workers


It’s 7:30 a.m., and I have two orders from Smoothie King. The orders aren’t ready – even though the app stated they were.

DoorDash is a timed gig. Every moment counts as part of your delivery rate. I messaged the customers to inform them of their order status. They cooperated with me nicely, and I continued to wait for the only employee available to complete all incoming orders, including the walk-ins. Five minutes turned into 10 minutes, then 30 minutes. At this point, I was irritated.

Finally, I gathered both orders and drove 20 minutes north on I-75. The first order was simple. The instructions said: “Leave the order at my doorstep.” Placing the order at the door, I took a picture as instructed and headed to my next drop-off. I signed up for the guaranteed $17-an-hour surge pay rate.

At the second location, the customer requested that I hand her the order. As I arrived at the customer’s residence, it was clear I needed a gate code to enter. It took 10 minutes to get in touch with the customer. She told me she would tip me for the inconvenience caused – and never did.

My payout for both orders was $10. I had four more hours to go on my shift. Luckily, I was still able to meet my goal of $50. The metro area houses over 6 million residents, creating a demand for Instacart, DoorDash, Lyft, and Uber drivers. The rise of gig workers is becoming substantially competitive and in some cases necessary for residents to make extra cash to maintain their lifestyles.

Gig workers have soaked up the market for so long that some of them have crashed and burned. Some might question whether being a gig worker is worth the hassle or the dazzle of extra cash. In my experience, the pay for an eight-hour shift is around $88 to $128 a day for Instacart shoppers. This value could go up to $300 depending on which areas have high demand. For DoorDashers, the hourly pay in Atlanta is roughly $17 to $19 an hour.

The number of gig workers is growing, and their impact is being felt throughout the city of Atlanta. Two local Instacart shoppers, Kassandra Evans and Alexyus Rice, shared what the gig life is like.

At 8 a.m. Evans drops her son off at school and begins her shift. Evans works 15 hours a week making an extra $150-200 a week on top of her 40-hour shift at The Fresh Market. Evans has been an active Instacart shopper for four years.

“I had an order that consisted of 240 items,” Evans said. “The customer lived on the third floor of her mid-rise. I had to make six trips up three flights of stairs back and forth. This included three cases of 24 packs of water. I only made $8 on the batch with no tip.”

Evans often feels anxious to accept certain orders after this experience. However, she still manages to meet her weekly goal and continues to make Instacart her side hustle.
Rice has worked for Instacart for three years. Her weekly average payout is roughly $200. Rice is a full-time accountant for a medical company in Sandy Springs, but averages 15 hours of Instacart orders on the weekends.

“I don’t do this full-time,” Rice said. “ I remember one time I was shopping for a customer. We had a great back-and-forth dialogue about replacement items, refunds, and the overall selection process. Upon completing the shopping batch, I drove 15 to 20 minutes in traffic to drop off the customer’s groceries. Upon arrival, they never answered their phone to open the gate.”

Rice eventually called Instacart’s help center and they told her that they would pay her to return the items to the store. When Rice returned to the store, however, they didn’t accept the returned items. She was stuck with $300 worth of groceries that she didn’t even want.

Gig work can ease your financial burden, but it can be difficult too. Pick your financial poison.

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