As I got out of my car last night to fill up on gas after driving a total stranger to the middle of the woods, I thought about how empowered I was to truly grab the financial reins of my life.
When my boss at the cafe last year told me he was going to cut my hours, I gave him a full-on bear hug! I was finally free to make my own hours, which I was going to have to do pretty fast, because rent was a week past due. With choices like Lyft, Rover, Instacart, Fiverr, and Mechanical Turk, I had unlimited earning potential.
So I put my skills to work—skills like discerning green bananas from brown bananas at Kroger, scooping warm cat feces into a bag, and anonymously rewriting a retired dentist’s romance novel. Living the dream, hopping from task to task, without a care for overtime pay, benefits, or a stable work cycle—a dignified, independent rabbit.
Thanks to our economic model, the creators of Airbnb were able to build a $31 billion company from renting their air mattresses for a night, and thanks to them, I can make as much as $6,000 a year doing the same—if I drop about $3,000 converting my storage room into a competitively furnished one-bed hostel.
I like to think of myself as an independent contractor who threw out his nine-to-five job for about five to nine different jobs over the course of a year, a contractor with significantly less of the legal protections established in the past hundred years or so by Congress and the Supreme Court.
You want job security? Sure, go ahead, shackle yourself to a worker’s union and forever feel guilty about your own labor cost while you pay dues that get wasted on your pension, your safety fund, or lobbying for a reasonable work week. Or you could enjoy the thrill of running from small errand to small errand with no wage negotiation power whatsoever, relishing in the comfort of anonymity as you drift into an oversaturated sea of willing, technically-not-employed day laborers.
Living the dream means never knocking the hustle, because without the hustle of millions of underpaid Americans, pretend entrepreneurs like me might never get the chance to profit off an app that I eventually design to circumnavigate livable wages and farm out my labor to victims of an ever-shrinking job market.
I finally get to be my own boss. As soon as I pick up this guy’s laundry. And take this lady’s three dachshunds for a walk. And deliver this milkshake to wherever. Anyway, what was I saying? Something about economic freedom.
In my line of work, nobody—and nothing—is above me, telling me where to go or what to do. Except for the algorithms literally telling me where to go and what to do. I truly am a free agent, living my life under the corporate radar. And under the poverty line.
At this rate, I may just do this forever. I’ve been emancipated by the uncertainty of how long a gig will last, whether any benefits are attached, whether the tips will come, or what absurd obstacles I will face in complete isolation from a team of fellow workers, a trained support network, and customers who view me as a person. Now that’s freedom you simply can’t buy! Not on my income, anyway.