My experience as a Task Rabbit, a virtual and in-person assistant who works with “task posters” on a contract basis, has made me question everything I thought I knew about business and capitalism and treating people “right.”
I recently signed up to deliver boxes of produce from farmers’ markets to chic, higher-end restaurants in the city. On Saturday mornings. At 7am. My first delivery was last weekend. The process took about 3 hours, required the use of a dolly, was somewhat humiliating because I have a master’s degree, and my car – its seats coated in dust – is still in need of a good vacuum. For my labor, I made $50.
I drove home, egg mcmuffin in hand, checking in with myself on how I felt about the payment. I can be hyper-sensitive to people taking advantage of me. I decided this person wasn’t. And since I was saving this person money by agreeing to work outside the site so that he didn’t have to pay posting fees, it was a win-win situation, and I had a recurring job. Later that weekend, he paypal-ed me. We would get in touch the following Thurs re: the next weekend’s deliveries. And life went on.
The naive employee in me, who is excited to be a part of new endeavors, emailed the fine purveyor this morning – “Hey [name redacted]! The LA Marathon is this Sunday – how do you want to handle the delivery routes?”
Taskposter response: “No worries. No deliveries this Sunday. By the way, would you take $40 per delivery instead of $50?”
And here I was, one second excited to help this person out – ready to be on his team, and the next, an employee scorned.
It’s not often you find someone who is as engaged in your work as you are. But when your funds are limited, what’s more important – human capital or getting the best deal?
I don’t have any answers (although I suspect the maxim “moderation is key” is helpful here). But I do know that when these situations arise and you don’t take care of them well, you leave people with bad tastes in their mouths, for you and your burgeoning company. And more quickly than you can snap your greedy little entrepreneurial fingers, a fruitful partnership is (potentially) irreparably damaged with one bad seed.