Upon disclosing to my friends, colleagues and family members that I wanted to start driving for Lyft, they began expressing mixed reactions. Is it safe for a woman? What if someone chokes you with your hijab while you’re driving? Are you sure you want to drive in this political climate? I had similar concerns after my friend told me she drives for Lyft. In fact, she inspired me to sign up. I applied on the website, uploaded photos of my insurance, registration and driver’s license, then scheduled my orientation. Lyft runs a background check and a DMV check. I had to pass a car inspection, vision test and they measured my blood pressure.
Congratulations! You’re approved! I was ecstatic. Three or more moving violations in three years? Forget about applying. DUI’s and drug-related felonies in the past seven years will bar you from eligibility altogether. My driving record is essentially spotless. I was looking for a part-time job, but I didn’t want to work in retail or food service. Unlike most people my age, my first job wasn’t fast food or cashiering. Lyft is my first service job. You’re rated on friendliness, safe driving, car cleanliness, and good conversation. If your rating falls below 4.8, you will be kicked off the app.
9 months and 750+ rides later, I’ll admit Lyft is unlike any other job I’ve ever had. I’ve been a consultant on a project to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline, interpreted for asylum-seekers and worked as a camp counselor. People ask me if I’ve had any negative experiences as a driver, and I can honestly say that I haven’t. Safety is relative depending on one’s race, gender, citizenship status, sexual orientation, religion, and class. Whether I tell people I drive for Lyft or travel solo, the reaction is similar. One of worry, concern, and terror. People are more fixated on women inheriting the onus of sexual assault prevention than creating a world where men are reprimanded for their violence against women.
The most dangerous person to my life isn’t a Lyft passenger. It’s actually a male intimate partner. Yet, no one tells me to exercise caution towards the person who is most likely a threat to my survival. In the US, over half of the killings of American women are related to intimate partner violence. Intimate partner violence is the leading cause of death of Black women between 15-34. It’s time to dispel this myth of stranger danger. Statistically, I face less of a risk as a Lyft driver than as a girlfriend or wife. Lyft has made it possible to pay off my car two years ahead of schedule and save one paycheck per month. I never have to worry about having to work during inclement weather or waiting for time off approval. With stagnant wages and high cost of living, side hustles are now necessary for maintaining financial security.
Have you thought about a side hustle?