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I’ve always been the DD or the guy people call for a ride. I love driving and love people. I have spare time, or like an excuse to get away from the computer screen.

Ridesharing was a no-brainer.

And Christina said I would be good at it. And I think I am. A few weeks ago it came officially to the Buffalo area, one of the last cities to embrace the future (though not without extorting fees for people going to or from the airport). After reading driver reviews, I chose Lyft (instead of Uber or both, as many do).

I love everything about it, in principle AND practice. It was what taxi companies should have done years ago (and not doing so is why Christina, like so many others, dislike using them). Harnessing crowdsourcing, it enables anyone to serve the community in the transportation market. Like eBay, self-publishing, and AirBNB, it’s a part of the New Cottage Industry I couldn’t imagine the specifics of but always hoped we would return to.

Personal Rewards

Human Contact. I get to talk to diverse human beings in person much more regularly.

Productive Downtime and Break Time. I can use the app when I’m not busy with projects, or to have a random break from the screen.

Cash Flow. I can turn on and off the ability to earn extra cash. This is ideal for my business, where I may be extremely busy one week and sitting on my hands the next three. And the pay isn’t bad. It much more than covers gas, snacks, mileage wear, car cleaning, etc..

Perks. I now have enough reason to have a separate bank account from my business one and can keep non-Kentropolis transactions out of my accounting most of the time, for the first time in almost 20 years. I also got a free month’s car cleaning from DeltaSonic and using their card save 15 cents a gallon. And doing over 20 rides a month gives me all sorts of other discounts I plan to use. Heck, they even offer group health insurance, but I haven’t looked into it.

Tax Benefit. Their system records and calculates all the pertinent income and deductions, offsetting a significant portion of the liability.

I’m a Better Driver. I was never a bad driver, but this puts me on my best behavior as a matter of habit. I find myself avoiding unnecessary Gs and going the speed limit even by myself much more often.

Personal Challenges

My Bladder. I don’t know how long a ride might be, so if I don’t do a preemptive strike, I’ll be crossing my pedals for a while.

My GPS. It doesn’t always take me to the right address, as it may guestimate the passenger at a house on the next block. Fortunately, it marks exactly where they are when they have signal and I can adjust when I get close.

My Phone Battery. The app sucks a lot of juice. I have to remember to keep it plugged in or I risk it dying in the middle of a ride. (Fortunately this hasn’t happened, as I don’t know what the consequence would be.)

Dog Hair. Hazel is a shorthair breed, but it’s nearly impossible to lint roll or even vacuum out. We’ll have to use the other car when she travels with us, or arrange a blanket situation.

I’m sure there are more pros and cons, but this is still new to me — and many of the people I drive. But I’ve learned one thing — free bottles of water melts hearts, and you become the Messiah to drunk people.

The only thing is that where I live is currently under-served. It arranges for the nearest ride, and sometimes I am it for as far away as McKinley Mall. Still worth it, but it adds up to a lot of extra miles and time before you start “the job”. But I am confident the Free Market will balance itself out with more and more riders and drivers, each making it worthwhile for the other.

Shameful Plug

To be a driver or rider: