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The Week I Made $522 As A Lyft Driver

My $522 week as a Lyft driver

This started because I needed a Lyft. I needed to get from the train station to home. 2 miles, not a grand distance. I’d have walked but I had luggage and anyway, there’s a sidewalk for only about half of the trek.

I didn’t think there would be any Lyft drivers in my suburban area. I thought I might be left with shlepping my roller bag along the side of a hectic 3-lane road as rush hour took its last hefty inhale for the night. Happily, I was wrong. I scheduled a ride and a kind woman in a Kia Soul scooped me up a few minutes after my train dropped me off.

During the 7-minute, 8-traffic light scamper to my driveway she answered my many questions about how much work she gets driving Lyft out our way (about 40 minutes south-ish west of Philly) and how much she nets from each ride. She also gave me the lowdown on the busiest/most profitable times of the day/week out here in the ‘burbs. I’d long been thinking that driving Lyft was something I would like to do, another self-employed side hustle to explore, and be good at doing. After all, I’m kind, prompt, courteous, rock a clean car, and I would go above & beyond with charging cables, water bottles, etc. for my passengers.

When I woke at 3:30am the next morning, still on Greenwich Mean Time, I signed up to be a Lyft Driver. 12 hours later, I was approved and ready to chauffeur people from here to there. I dragged the vacuum out to the driveway and tidied up my beautiful burgundy Sorento to prep her for this new life.

Starting slowly, on Halloween, I pulled on my comfy Philly Union hoodie and put on my flat cap from Ireland (this get-up quickly became my de facto Lyft driver uniform) and went on to make $116 in the first few days, driving only for an hour or so in the morning and another 1+ in the evenings during rush hour. Lyft deposited that $116 straight into my bank account the following Tuesday. The next week, last week, I made a more concerted effort to be ON more, to see just how much I could potentially earn when putting in more than just an hour or so each day.

In 6 days (I rested on Sunday), I made $522.58 as a Lyft driver, minus the cost of gas which, in my Kia Sorento, while I do adore her, is not an insignificant expense. Still, I will pocket roughly $400 for a shade over 29 hours of being on call within the Lyft app, and providing a total of 51 Lyft rides.

My $522 week as a Lyft Driver

My week as a Lyft driver started with a young woman from Dublin who was heading from work to a popular brew house to meet friends. It was her first Halloween here in the States and she was amused by the lengths in which our culture celebrates this holiday (question mark?) and commits to its costuming protocol. My next full week with Lyft ended with three young ladies squeezed into the backseat, high school kids I think, putting a giggly bow on their night at what I assume, based on the size of the house and the number of cars lining the elongated serpentine driveway, was an epic house party. I was happy to be the Lyft to start one party safely and end another without anyone being behind the wheel when they shouldn’t be. The kids may have been drinking and/or possibly were high but I didn’t care about any of that — I’m a straightedge teetotaler, but I’m no narc. I only wanted to make sure those three young ladies got home safely. That was my role in their night and I did the job to a T.

In between parties, I drove a day drinker to the liquor store to replenish his supply and took a married couple with three kids left at home out to a Creole spot for a date night dinner. I literally ran a backpack left in my car back to a local beer brewer and his parents before they boarded a train for a day trip to Philly. There was a nurse who needed a stop for a coffee and a muffin before heading into the rehabilitation center for her graveyard shift and a guy in town for business who was going to a restaurant 25 minutes farther west to meet a childhood friend he hadn’t seen in over a decade. That friend had once been given 6 months to live but beat the cancer scheduled to finish him. I made a surprisingly painless 36-minute trip to terminal B of the airport on a blue sky, traffic free morning to drop off a lovely woman who is expecting her first child. She is originally from my area but was heading home to Raleigh, NC on American Air. And I had an 8-month old baby girl named Harmony in a carseat back there with mom and dad who were all going home late on a Saturday night.

I drove all kinds of people, from all kinds of neighborhoods. Some wanted to talk, others kept quiet with earbuds in, some told me an awful lot about themselves and their family members in 7, 12, 18 minutes of drive time. No one, thankfully, left any trash in my backseat and no one left behind anything else that a wee spritz of Febreze couldn’t resolve.

I heard stories, answered some questions about myself and what I do when not driving Lyft, and handed out a few OWTK business cards when people asked where they could read some of my stories. I wished people good days and better nights, happy weekends, and good luck saving for a home, a car, studying for dental technician exams, and encouraged an older gentleman to get back to writing. I got a few tips tossed at me through the Lyft app and $2 in cash pressed into my palm, old school style, out front of a cigar shop. A couple of passengers canceled rides while I was en route to them. That sucked. And Bob was a no show in his driveway for his 11:45pm scheduled ride to Philly. That sucked more. During my week as a Lyft driver, I drove better than ever, being careful not to floor it at green lights and careful to maximize fuel efficiency, knowing that every extra mile I can squeeze out of a gallon of gas is more money I will keep from my Lyft earnings.

My $522 week as a Lyft Driver

I very much like the idea — who wouldn’t? — of grossing $2000+ a month by driving Lyft regularly but at the time of writing this story, I’m not sure I will ever again put in another 29 hour week as a Lyft driver.

I accepted every ride last week and spent too much time away from home, away from my girls, away from my kitchen making meals for my family during my 2nd week as a Lyft driver. During that week, a deep dark valley for me in the ebb and flow of life, I ditched my family because I felt that I needed to be alone with music (mostly Lianne La Havas, Sara Bareilles, and Kamasi Washington). I needed to be alone with my thoughts on life, happiness, and what it is I am doing/where I am going, destinations that the Lyft GPS can’t predict. I was alone even when passengers were in the backseat, even when I was in conversation, asking and answering questions, even when I was smiling kind smiles, helping with luggage, trying hard to be the impetus for someone saying something like, “the world may be crap but there is still some good out there”.

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3 Comments

  1. Jeff, this was really wonderful. There are so many characters, even if they are all just cameos, and your calming personality was a steadying force throughout the piece, as I’m sure it was for your passengers, as well. Also, good on you for recognizing when you needed some time to yourself and for making arrangements to take that time.

  2. Interesting. I couldn’t be a Lyft driver because there are way too many Cheerios in my backseat, but I am thinking about what else is out there.

  3. Pingback: FoF: When Fatherhood Is the Role Of A Lifetime | Dad 2.0 Summit

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