If you’ve tried to call a ride on Uber or Lyft lately, you may have noticed that it takes much longer than you’re used to. Many drivers quit at the beginning of the pandemic because of the risk of contracting COVID-19 from a stranger, and rideshare companies are facing a massive shortage of drivers just as demand has begun to pick back up.

A woman behind the seat of a car reaches for a windshield mounted phone displaying a rideshare app.
A woman behind the seat of a car reaches for a windshield mounted phone displaying a rideshare app.
Having trouble finding one of these? You aren’t alone.

So dire is the shortage that Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi announced plans to spend $250 million to lure drivers back onto the road. At the same time, reports showed that ride prices for consumers were up by…

I’m not sure I can forgive the last four years. I’m not sure I want to.

As we’ve moved forward with the Biden administration, I’m still haunted by what we endured. More than any single act of legislation or executive order, any poorly formed tweet or public statement, what echoes in my memories are the things that other people showed to us. Nothing was more horrifying than the cruelty of my fellow citizens.

The sight of an angry mob storming the US capitol and howling for the blood of elected leaders was a scary and dramatic sight, but it was…

It’s 8:45 at night on a Tuesday, and Christie is about to stick me with the needle. I’m laying in a bed at the Biomat plasma donation center, waiting to trade 875 milliliters of the watery part of my blood for $50.

I like Christie. She always asks how my day has been. She remembers the book I was reading last week, and I can tell that she’s smiling behind her mask. These are all secondary reasons. The important thing about Christie is that she doesn’t have trouble finding the vein in my right arm.

We have to use the…

In 2016, I signed up to be an Uber driver in Tallahassee, Florida. After 5 years and many thousands of rides, these are the things I wish my riders knew.

1. What we earn is disconnected from what you pay

The price shown to you when you order a ride is just a guess, what Uber and Lyft call “up-front pricing.” They show you an amount that they think the ride should cost based on their internal algorithms, and you tap to order the ride. At that point, your part of the equation is done.

You might assume that drivers get paid a fixed percentage of the price of the…

Grocery shopping when you are poor is one of the most depressing experiences a human being can have. A store filled with aisle after aisle of things you want but can’t have is a unique way of torturing the downtrodden. Take away all the things you can’t afford, and a grocery store might as well be a big empty box. You learn to live by the maxim that if it’s not on sale, it’s not for sale.

Grocery shopping when you’re poor looks a lot like this.

Your inner monologue becomes a constant negotiation. The frozen broccoli is 2-for-1, so that’s a yes because we haven’t had a vegetable in…

I’ve been transfixed by the trial of Derek Chauvin this week. For so many Americans, it is an inflection point, a critical moment in the story of race in America that was energized by the brutal death of George Floyd. The prosecution is relying the video evidence of Floyd’s final moments and the callous indifference of Chauvin as the man gasping beneath him expired. The defense is attempting to inject doubt anywhere they can. Who will you believe: the defense or your lying eyes?

I have a personal stake in the outcome of these events. For the past few years…

A black and white image of a car with 3 visible passengers has a green biohazard symbol superimposed over it.
A black and white image of a car with 3 visible passengers has a green biohazard symbol superimposed over it.

You learn a lot about people when they’re in your backseat. When so many people pass through your vehicle on a given day, the sheer exposure to humanity makes you introspective. Everyone has their individual story, but taken as a whole, you can only see the same thing so many times before you start to draw conclusions about society.

The past year of the pandemic has taught me that the human mind has an infinite capacity for both cruelty and kindness, self-delusion and empathy. When the pandemic first started, I made a post on Twitter that you might have seen:

Jonathan Rigsby

Rideshare driver in Tallahassee, FL and habitual Tweeter @ride_trips

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