Task Rabbit: Git ‘er done!

There’s a new company in town that I’m experimenting with called Task Rabbit that is a new form of employment that’s not exactly employment. At their website you can signup and go through a screening process that included a canned video interview and background check that once you pass gives you the chance to bid on tasks to do and if you’re chosen you get paid to do them.

Many of the tasks are pretty common, someone needs a ride to the airport, pick up and assemble some IKEA furniture [one of the more common tasks] or doing someone’s laundry and cleaning their house on a regular basis. Then you get some weird ones. Yesterday someone needed a person to wear a bear costume at a party and hand out scavenger hunt tasks to party members. The weirdest one yesterday was someone was needed to pick up carrots, wash and peel them, then decorate them with a sharpie marker and bury them near the tennis courts around the east end of Golden Gate Park and you had to provide photographs to prove you did that.

In addition to getting paid by the person who posts the task you earn points and can go up in levels. At various levels you get extra payouts. At level five you get a free Task Rabbit t-shirt, at level 10 you get personalized Task Rabbit business cards. I’m not sure what you get at other levels since I’m still at level 1 and have had all my bids rejected so far.

The trick in all of this is that the person who needs a task done posts the task and lets the bids pour in. You don’t get to see how much the person is willing to pay and you don’t get to see what other people are bidding so it’s kind of a double blind situation. Task Rabbit doesn’t offer any advice on how much to bid either so you really don’t have a clue. There was one guy who needed his car registration renewed so you’d have to meet up with him, get his paper work, go to DMV and get it renewed then return back to him with the finished forms and sticker. He estimated it would take 2-4 hours. I decided to bid $20 figuring that I might be able to sneak it through AAA’s registration service., but if that didn’t work I could probably get it done in two hours at DMV which would put my earning at about minimum wage. If it took longer I would technically be underpaid. My bid was declined. Someone else needed a ride to the airport at a specific time. I bid $20…declined. While SuperShuttle is less you’re at their mercy and cab fare would be even more. I once gave a friend a ride to the airport and she filled up my gas tank which cost WAY more than $20.

This started me thinking that since Task Rabbit in their terms of service agreement says that you will not call them an employer that they aren’t held to standard work laws like, you know minimum wage, so they can do whatever they want. Some people are very successful and there is a 58 year old retired guy in the Sunset who is at level 25 and supposedly earns $5000/month. Not bad if it’s true, but I don’t have any proof of that.

They have a mobile app in the Apple store that was just released yesterday that shows you all the tasks around San Francisco and I can say if you live near the Castro, Mission, SOMA or Financial District you could easily run most of the errands on your feet. The West side of town is a little dry on Task Masters. I did see a few in the haight. I even offered to pick up eight bags of stuff to drop off at the GoodWill for $10…denied.

While it’s a good idea, so far my denials for doing work that would cost them more through other routes makes me wonder if there’s a bit of  slave labor involved here.


The Ady Gil does down

This isn’t a story about San Francisco per se, but it is about a friend of mine who lives in San Francisco. I won’t share his name to protect his anonymity, but he’s  flown off to join the crew of the Sea Shephed Conservation Society to serve a noble cause–the end of whaling. When was the last time you woke up and thought, hmmmm I want some whale today? Probably never. Part of that fact is that there has been a moratorium in place on commercial whaling for many years. The Japanese have made an end run though and saying their doing it for scientific research. What exactly is so scientific about killing and cutting up whales then putting them in cold storage?

My friend on board is an average guy yet remarkable. He is risking his life as well as his career and the possibility of facing jail time for what he believes in. Yes, you could say he’s a “Berkeley hippie type”, but he’s not. He’s the type of guy who’s trying to protect our environment and the animals that live in it. He was on a boat in the Antarctic Ocean watching as a Japanese whaling boat turned and rammed  a much smaller trimaran boat injuring several of the people on board who had to dive into arctic waters to save themselves. By international maritime law, this falls under piracy, by the laws of Australia and New Zealand it is considered an act of war. The Japanese on this ship aren’t just researchers as why would researchers need Swat armor and flash bang grenades or LRAD systems that our soldiers use? If you visit Animal Planet’s website you’ll see this for yourself.

Australia and New Zealand have condemmed the actions of the Japanese, but are also afraid of the possible loss of $52 Billion Australian dollars they get from the Japanese. From my understanding of this, while the Aussie might loose a bit of money, it will be for a short period of time. The coal and beef going the Japanese will not stop once they start getting cold and hungry.

I’ll be the first to admit, I like my meat, but I have to send out a word of thanks to a friend of mine who’s doing a good job in a place where it’s way to cold for me to go under conditions I don’t think I could tolerate. This is what San Francisco is all about, not smug yuppies that came from somewhere else who sit around drinking latte’s and swearing during our Board of Supervisor’s meetings, oh wait, that’s our local government.