Why I’m a DoorDash driver: Freedom to work on your own time

  • Liam O’Shea delivers for Door Dash with his silver Camry. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Liam O'Shea delivers for Door Dash with his silver Camry. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

For The Recorder
Published: 9/24/2021 6:04:15 PM

While home from college, a unique opportunity presented itself to me as a DoorDash driver — a steady source of income that did not revolve around a single location, did not have defined hours and instead thrived on supply-and-demand during peak times. A convenient job, one that I could work whether I was at school in Boston or back home in the Pioneer Valley.

All it required was a simple signup and background check, and I was ready to go. Also necessary was a working vehicle and some free time. The company would even provide masks, hand sanitizer and delivery bags for free. It was a way to be safe and minimize risk during the pandemic.

Without a doubt, COVID-19 has made its mark on the world. It impacts how we do business, and demand for convenience of food delivery without leaving the house is higher than ever. Looking for a job during a pandemic was challenging, with unemployment rates increasing.

I had found some work as a delivery driver for a pizza shop. However, we were severely understaffed, and the hours that I was required to work became challenging to balance with full-time online school. After our boss and another employee contracted the virus, the pizza shop shut down for a few weeks. We had to quarantine, and I seriously rethought the risk I was taking being around so many individuals, often unmasked, in close proximity. It dawned on me during this time that I needed a job that required less time spent in close quarters.

It was around that time that I first began the process of applying to become a DoorDash driver. The flexibility and convenience was a substantial contributing factor.

In April 2021, I was approved by the company and downloaded the “Dasher” app, which allowed me to become a delivery driver for the service. The flexibility and safety was unmatched.

I am now a DoorDash driver full time, and have been successfully using the service as a part-time job during my time off from college. The main advantage is the schedule — drivers are not required to work certain shifts, and can end their dash anytime that they want to. Furthermore, it enabled me to do what I love — exploration.

I have “dashed” in many different towns and regions, including Brattleboro, Greenfield, Northampton, Amherst, Holyoke, North Adams, and Williamstown. Most areas will have different demand based on population, but for a Dasher, hot spots are shown on a map in-app so you can gravitate toward restaurants that customers are ordering from. The app will send orders to your phone, including a dollar amount and how many miles total you will have to drive.

Dashers have the option to accept or decline these orders. The offer also includes the customer tip amount, of which 100% goes to the dasher.

One of the immediate differences I noticed was a change in attitude. I was happier working on my own time, and it gave me the flexibility for projects that I desperately needed. I even worked during finals week, in between exams and final projects. Once finals were over in early May, I began dashing full time, which is also an option for the service. There is no limit to the hours you can work. The hourly rate of compensation varied, but often paid higher than Massachusetts’ minimum wage of $13.50 an hour.

Another program DoorDash offers is the Top Dasher rewards program, which incentivizes dashers to do their very best. The criteria are as follows: If a dasher has completed at least 200 deliveries since activation and 100 in the last month, can keep an average customer rating of at least 4.7, accepts at least 70% of all orders sent by the service, and can maintain a 95% or higher completion rate, they qualify for this program. Top dashers are sent more orders during peak times, are welcome to dash even when it isn’t busy, and are sent physically larger orders from restaurants.

I have successfully maintained the status of Top Dasher for the last four months, and have completed over 850 deliveries. Even though I have spent almost my whole life in Franklin County, this service has taken me to towns and places I have never been. It is genuinely quite amazing to explore more of the area I grew up in while making a living.

DoorDash popularity has also skyrocketed during the most dire times of the pandemic, and it’s clear to see why. The default option for customers ordering food is to “leave it at the door,” which requires dashers to take a photo of the food at the customers’ house. This decreases the contact needed between customers and dashers, and encourages social distancing.

Furthermore, pickup is always relatively simple and can be done with maximum safety. Once an order is sent to my phone, I will see an expected delivery time and head to the restaurant. Once I arrive, I must mark in the app that I have arrived at the restaurant. I will then receive a pick-up time from the restaurant within the app. From there, it is as simple as walking up to the counter, requesting the order for the specific customer, and confirming that the order has been picked up.

DoorDash then utilizes an in-app Google Maps service that inputs the customer’s address and navigates you to the destination. After you’ve arrived, you must finally confirm that the food has been delivered. An earnings confirmation screen will then pop up, showing your breakdown of payment for the order, including the DoorDash base pay and customer tip.

Currently in Massachusetts, there is a ballot initiative to create an earnings floor for so-called independent contractors that work for app-based services. This would also create paid sick time and coverage under Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical leave. A proposition like this would be the first of its kind, and would protect the very workers that keep the service running. I have already had an amazing experience with the service without any benefits, but protecting drivers and establishing a guaranteed minimum pay for hours worked would be monumental.

I am excited to see what comes next with DoorDash, and I will keep running with the service that has provided me with this opportunity.




Greenfield Recorder

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