Last Updated on: May 28th, 2016
In late July I signed up to drive for Lyft after my sister talked me into it.
While she drives using the Uber platform, there are three reasons why I signed up for Lyft instead:
Lyft advertised like crazy. I couldn’t seem to avoid the pink stache or the logo. They are on my phone, web browser, on Facebook, Twitter and are even on Old Town Trolley Tours roaming around Boston!
>> “The squeaky wheel gets the oil…”
Lyft was/is offering a sign-up bonus! My sister wouldn’t stop talking about ridesharing. I know I will eventually sign up because of her incessant prodding, why not be smart about it?!
>> Be smart. Wait for a bonus offer before signing up. There is always one.
Lyft presented itself a tad “better” than Uber. Perception and impression is everything especially for ‘new recruits.’ I read and read and researched the two, till cows come home and I’m still reading and researching. Lyft wins. Plus I find the mentor session really comforting! Meeting someone who is an experienced Lyft driver will give you some insights about the city you’re in and the rideshare situation in the area.
>> Arm yourself with knowledge. Don’t just wing it and hope for the best.
The Application process:
It was lightning fast. What can I say, they are in dire need of Boston drivers! I filled up an online application on July 28th, scheduled a mentor session for August 8th, and then tied my cellphone to the Lyft app. I could have scheduled the mentor session as early as the next day I filled up the online registration but I needed to mentally prepare myself for what I was about to get myself into. I also scheduled a $99 (Groupon deal!) exterior and interior car detailing two days before the job interview aka mentor session. If I’m doing this, I’m doing it all in.
So it goes. I met my mentor one fine Saturday afternoon. He was well-dressed, well-mannered, professional and friendly at the same time. He took photos of my car, driver’s license, car insurance policy and photo of me! He gave my car a thorough check and we went driving around the area for 20 minutes or so. We were chatting as I drove. He asked questions and I counter. He sounded very welcoming and said I’d do great in the Lyft community. That boosted my confidence. We bid our farewells and I got notification the same day that Lyft was running the background check. Three days later, on the 11th, I got a text and email that I was approved. That fast? I wanted to run the other way…
>> If you think that meeting a Lyft mentor is no big deal, think again. They stand in the way between you and becoming a Lyft driver. It is a job interview whether you like it or you better like it! Do not in any way offend the mentor or bad mouth Uber or Lyft. That reflects on you as a person. Nobody wants to be around negative people and certainly, you’re making it easy for the mentor to dismiss you as ‘not fit’ for the Lyft community. Do not talk about controversial rideshare issues- take your rants online!
The Fun Begins:
On August 13th I hit the road for the first time as a Lyft driver. Nice and slow, I head out at 4 in the afternoon with the intention of driving only one time. Was I nervous? You bet! Excited? Even more so. I did three rides that afternoon. The first one was a pick up at the mall for 5 college students heading back to their college. 3.1 mile drive for $7.84. I knew exactly where they were heading so I got a kudos and they seemed very impressed. Guy said, “You are very smart. The last ride (for the same route) took 45 minutes to arrive because he got lost and didn’t know where to go to drop us off” Cool.
>> If your car seats 4 or 5 people, make sure you have room and nothing’s in the way! I did not expect a full packed car on my first ride.
The second ride was from the mall to the center of town for a female passenger who was drowning in her own perfume, I couldn’t have saved her if I tried. I risked suffocation while I drove for 11.0 miles but in the end got $24.92 for it. 🙂
>> Too much of a good thing can make you sick. Too much perfume can cause migraines, allergic reactions and impaired breathing in an enclosed space like cars. The nose knows!
The third ride was most interesting for a first day at work. It was not even 7pm yet, I drove 3 miles to pick up two young male passengers from their apartment. They were slightly inebriated and I was to drive them to a pub only a mile or so away. They were loud and chatty but surprisingly not annoying! In my mind however, I was already telling myself: “This is why you will only drive up to 9pm tops to avoid intoxicated passengers you read about in rideshare forums.” But these two were euphoric but not bothersome. I enjoyed the conversations. They were so impressed with my car setup and said they’ve never been in one with all the amenities I was offering. The ride was $5.50 and I find out the next day from my daily summary, the two gave me a $5.00 tip!!
>> People can surprise you. Give them a chance! ”Resign your position as General Manager of the Universe.” -Jeffrey Gitomer
50 Rides in 30 days
I did it!! I thought 50 was too much but I did not even feel pressured. I drove the hours I wanted, stopped when I felt I had enough for the day and I was only doing it 3 to 4 times a week averaging 4 hours per session.
The new signup bonus of 100 rides in 30 days – now that’s a harder challenge! I would have loved to have pushed myself for that. UPDATE: Apparently, the sign up bonus changes whenever Lyft wants or according to demand, they claim. So right now for October, it’s back to just 50 rides in 30 days but a $1,000 bonus!! Yowza!!!
I safely drove fifty plus people with different social, economic, and ethnic backgrounds to fifty plus destinations. It gave me a very close glimpse of human nature– put two strangers in a car and see what happens. A stand-up comedian can get a ton of materials out of rideshare driving to cover an entire set and will probably start off with something like this: What did Lyft say to Uber on the way to the bank?
It is the ultimate social psychology experiment if I ever was conducting one. How does one decide whether to seat in the front or the back seat? Does this passenger think of me or treat me differently because I am a woman driver or couldn’t care less? Should I make something up to start a conversation? Do I even want to talk to this person in real life? Could this person be best friend material? If I meet this person elsewhere, would he/she even notice me? Does this person think I am human with feelings or just a robotic object in a human body driving her home?
The premise that ridesharing is merely transporting people from point A to B is not only misleading but inaccurate and if one carries a mindset like that as a rideshare driver, then continuing on might seem like a futile endeavor.
There are a lot of things going on in that car while you’re on driver’s mode. This post will not cover it but this entire website will, as it delves deeper and deeper into the world of ridesharing and driving for Transportation Network Companies (TNCs).
Am I the same person I was thirty days ago? I can say with certainty, I AM NOT. I learned a lot of things in thirty days. As I did my rides, I find myself reaching for that pen and paper to write down my thoughts during wait periods.
My sister is starting her postgraduate studies this Fall and she currently have two solid day jobs so she can only do Uber once or twice a month if only to keep her status active.
Our family is against ridesharing for safety reasons. I told them that I am only doing this to get my signup bonus and then I’ll quit. Who was I kidding?! I love every bit I am out there giving rides to people!!
I loved it so much that just a week after I was approved with Lyft, I bought the domain name werideshare.org with the thought of sharing my experiences as a woman rideshare driver. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many articles out there to help women drivers specifically. My search for other women drivers begun…
Sure, I worry about safety. Who doesn’t? Morbid as it may sound, let’s just say, that I am more likely to die of a heart disease than a car accident. I like my chances and I’ll take it. Here’s to my next 50 rides in the next 30 days…