I’ll Probably Cross the Picket Line #InstacartStrike

I applied to be an Instacart shopper months ago, last week, I got an email saying they finally had room for more shoppers and I was approved to shop. Flea Market guy and Kiddo both work “essential” jobs. So they are out in the public, in harm’s way, every single day. I’m usually home all day, but every day they go out, I’m “exposed” when they come home.

After Brother in Law left to go quarantine at his mom’s, I was trying to figure out what I could do to help. I thought maybe I’d go work at a grocery store or something, but working for other people has never been my strong suit. Especially corporate type jobs.

So when I got the Instacart email, I knew that’s what I could do to help.

I had only been working a few days before I saw that today was going to be the #InstacartStrike. I did a little bit of research and I saw what it was all about.

Shoppers want a few of their demands met. They want an extra $5 in “hazard pay” for PPE (personal protective equipment). They want customers to be charged a 10% tip instead of the current 5%. And they want to know if they can’t work because they’ve gotten COVID-19, that they will be taken care of.

As much as I would LOVE to support #InstacartStrike, I will be out shopping today if there are orders to be had.

When I signed up with Instacart, I knew I was not an Instacart “employee” but, instead, I am an Instacart “contractor.” I’ve done contract work for a lot of my adult life. What that usually means is that I am responsible for my own taxes. I buy my own gas. I pay for my own insurances. I purchase my own supplies. And yes, right now, that includes personal protective equipment. I made my own wipes. I made my own hand sanitizer. There is none to be found on the shelves anywhere even if shoppers did get the extra $5 hazard pay. And I make up my mind every day whether or not I want to put myself at risk by going to “work.”

The internet has dubbed contract work as “gig workers.” I don’t consider myself a “gig worker” as much as I consider myself a “hustler.” I hustle when I need money. I scour craigslist for gigs. I do “contract” work. And I get to choose how much or how little I accept for each gig. People are complaining that Instacart is not paying a living wage. If that’s true, why are people still taking the jobs? Because some money is better than no money?

Right now is the time we should be willing to do any little thing to help others out. THAT is why I started shopping for Instacart. I wanted to safely (or as safely as possible) help get food to those who are immune compromised or elderly or just plain afraid to leave the house. I don’t really care about the money. I just wanted to help. But the money has been good.

As of right now Flea Market Guy is still getting steady work at his company, but I thought having a little extra in the bank just in case that changes wouldn’t hurt. And I get to help people. Getting paid to help people. It’s like a dream job. Am I afraid I could get sick? Sure. But I am being as safe as I possibly can. I wish I could say the same for the grocery stores (but that’s a story for tomorrow).

Maybe there will be backlash against me for going against the grain and standing with “the man” today, but if I get to help one person today, then it will be worth it.

Plus Doctors and Nurse’s are working in the pit of hell without proper PPE. So even if Instacart was kind enough to send a dozen boxes of gloves, hand sanitizer and face masks to me, I still wouldn’t have any, because I’d be marching them right over to my local hospital and handing it over.

Priorities.

Let’s stop putting ourselves first. If you are scared you will get sick, stay home. If you want to help people who can’t help themselves right now, show up for work.

I know it’s not really that simple, but for the most part, right now, it is.

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