Three months ago I did a reading at a really cool loft in Bushwick, at the Bug House Spin. One of the women in the audience started talking to me about my story, which was about working for peanuts, and she told me she was from San Francisco and was a Task Rabbit. I asked her what a Task Rabbit does.
“You do all sorts of things, from shopping for someone to fixing a kitchen sink.”
Well, I like to shop, and I can certainly fix a kitchen sink, so I was intrigued. Recently I started to think about finding a job, unemployment is not going to last forever and the rent must be paid, so I started asking around about work and looking at various websites that post temp work for artists. Then I remembered the Task Rabbit girl and looked it up. Unfortunately, they weren’t accepting any more applications here in New York. Then last week I got an email- they were opening up the New York market to new applicants. I applied.
It took over an hour to make a profile and go through the application process, too lengthy to explain here; but I will cover the salient points.
You set your rate, it’s an hourly wage; there are suggested rates with a range for each “Task.” There were 39 tasks, from electrical work and catering to personal shopping and cleaning out closets. I heard some horror stories about cleaning out closets today.
There was stuff I can’t do, from driving (no car or license) to bookkeeping.
But there was plenty I could do, so it took a long time to say why I was good for a task and how much I wanted to be paid for it.
I uploaded a photo, which was supposed to look professional and you should be smiling in it, but this was all I could find.
Early in the process came the question of payment, and the way it works is you have to enter your bank account number and your bank routing number. The client pays Task Rabbit and Task Rabbit deposits your cut into your bank account.
I balked at this, even though it had the green secure HTML I don’t know these people, I don’t even know if it’s the real Task Rabbit that’s asking for it. But I do know one thing; I’ll never go anyplace if I don’t take the occasional chance. So I entered the information and prayed I wasn’t giving someone permission to empty out my checking account. Not that there’s a million bucks in it, but hey, it’s all I got.
There was also an invitation to attend a seminar here in New York to learn how the whole thing works. I RSVP’d and went this morning.
I wondered what to wear, I mean I knew it wasn’t going to be a job interview, but I always like to make a good impression, so I opted for casual but neat. Short sleeved white button down shirt with grey slacks and grey desert boots.
I went to the place; some loft they’d rented on Prince Street off Sullivan, and was greeted by a very nice young woman from Britain named Bonnie.
“Would you like a T-Shirt?”
“How do you like it? Loose, form-fitting, or regular?”
My days of form fitting tees are over, so I said: “I’ll take an extra large.”
She walked me over to a table covered in green T-Shirts and selected an extra large for me. I took my shirt and found a seat.
It was a pretty standard set-up, folding chairs arrayed in front of a screen, a MacBook air hooked up to a slide projector for a power-point presentation.
For the next hour I listened first to a woman who was the CEO tell the history of Task Rabbit, I think her name was Stacy and she hired someone to go buy her T-shirts. The T-Shirts they were giving out were from American Apparel, BTW.
Then came Jay, who was a sort of all-around tech guy who explained how the whole thing worked as an app on either IOS or Android, if you have neither you are shit out of luck in the Task Rabbit business. I’m glad I’ve got an iPhone.
The way it works is like this: Someone contacts you through the app, and you accept or refuse a job. You get rated, and invited to do more jobs, or “tasks.”
Then Bonnie from Britain talked about her experiences as a Task Rabbit, then a guy named Jay spoke about the support team, which is there to help you through any sticky situations that may arise with a client.
The whole thing sounded like a dating site, where you put up a profile and people pick you from many. The reviews and “Thumbs Up” are sort of like Mark Zuckerberg’s hot or not hot. I hope I’m hot.
There were questions, and every time someone asked Jay a question he preceded his answer with “That’s a very good question,” even though some were clearly not. But the main message was: Be positive, be professional, and smile a lot. With those things you have the potential to make good money, and in time, very good money.
I’m a positive, professional guy, and I sure can smile. I can’t wait for my first thumbs up.
Maybe I can start with this: Last night I watched as a couple in the building I’m working at bring up two SUV loads of stuff from COSTCO, so much stuff they leave the overflow in the hallway in front of the door. I’ve noticed all this stuff in front of their door since my first day there and wonder how they get away with it. It is against the law, and the building management can just take it all and throw it in the garbage.
I watched as they ferried everything from paper towels to dozens of bottles of shampoo up the elevator. Maybe they’ll call me when they’re ready to make some space in their apartment, I can’t imagine they have much left.