For the past three days, I had searched the job boards for new opportunities. Freshly unemployed, money and financial security started to permeate my thinking. He contacted me through a task app, where people hire people to help them with tasks and chores, and hired me for my first job.
My client messaged me from New York, en route to Miami; he would be on the ground in five hours. He wanted me to leave now and wait in line for him at a pop-up store. The store opened in a couple of days so the line shouldn’t be that long. He sounded stressed and I didn’t want to disappoint. I packed up my laptop and exited the coffee shop.
Pulling into the prominent Design District, I saw a line that spanned the boulevard. The tents and folding chairs foreshadowed the events that would ultimately unfold in the next forty hours. I made my way to the back of the line and tried to unpack the situation. The pop-up store announced their Design District opening only hours before. Whilst in the queue, I also learned that merchandise from other openings had been reselling for exorbitant rates on the secondary market. With a bit of patience and luck, I could make some decent money. I scrambled to contact friends and family and within thirty minutes I had secured five thousand dollars. When my client finally arrived, we waited together to enter the store.
Hour after hour passed but the line didn’t move. The store would open in two days and we were left to wait in the hot July sun. With the risk of heat stroke, the district distributed large umbrellas to protect its patrons from the blistering conditions. Finally, after about thirty-five hours, the line began to move. The mob went through a series of security checkpoints before finally being admitted into the store. Once inside, we were limited in the number of items we could purchase. I used my budget and made a nice profit from the resale.
My introduction to the gig economy reaffirmed that I didn’t need to worry about how I would make a living. I proved to myself that day that I could size an opportunity, take action, and remain resilient in an uncomfortable situation. I was going to be alright.
“This is a first.” Words I utter to myself quite often working in the gig economy. I received a task to wait on a contractor and furniture delivery guys. The customer would not be home nor would I meet or speak to him.
I turned off the engine and the valet driver approached my vehicle. I had learned to press the latch on the back of my key to separate the vehicle key fob from the rest of my other keys. I handed him the key fob and, in exchange, he gave me my valet ticket. Most of these swanky downtown condos do valet-only and charge a hefty premium to park your car. I headed into the lobby and asked for the keys to apartment 1207.
This felt a lot like a service where you stay in a stranger’s home in exchange for a fee. Inside the apartment, the dirty dishes were piling up and there were papers everywhere. My client had left some money for the valet on the kitchen counter. I pocketed the cash and opened the heavy sliding glass door to the balcony. I sat down in a chair and took in the immaculate view. I wondered how often my client had sat in this very chair. The half-filled ash tray quickly answered my question. I messaged my customer and updated him that I was inside and patiently waiting.
The task went smoothly and I made my way down to the lobby. I signed out of the guest registration and handed back the keys to apartment 1207. I sent the invoice to my client and I was off to my next job.
Stuart enjoyed collecting. His most recent passion involved the pursuit of craft beer. The secondary market for craft beer followed many previous trends; enthusiasts bought, sold, and traded with each other. Every so often a highly coveted brewery would announce the sale of special, limited release beers. Stuart needed to get his hands on these special releases. While previous pursuits simply required patience and a cold beverage, Stuart couldn’t get himself to undertake the 2,500-mile road trip.
The sale would start at 10am the next morning. Having never had the patience nor the insanity to wait in line for something, I decided that 8am would be a safe time to start queuing. When I arrived, the scene was utter chaos. The line went for blocks past the brewery. The “real” collectors arrived the evening before and camped out; a community sharing some of their favorite beers acquired from past releases. While in line, I met other hustlers that shared tales of camping out for the latest Jordan’s or Yeezy’s. They had sacrificed a night’s sleep to have the opportunity to double or triple their investment. Today’s mission was no different for them.
7 hours later, I carried a heavy, dilapidated box through the sea of people. Hungry, thirsty, and sun burnt, I had completed my task. I promptly shipped the 5 bottles across the country and I was compensated for my time.