I started delivering groceries for Instacart four years ago, after a former coworker told me about how he was making extra money on the side. Previously I worked in administration in the medical field.
I decided to leave my job and do something fun where I could make a comfortable living, and I've always loved grocery shopping. This also has given me a chance to meet new people and serve others.
I am 61, so I am not as young as many of the Instacart shoppers right now. I consider myself a seasoned shopper The application process is unlike anything I was ever familiar with. You have an interview with someone over the phone, you have a background check, but you never meet anyone in person.
It took about three weeks from my first initial interview until my first day shopping. There was no in-person training; instead, we were given instructional videos to watch about how to weigh groceries, select items, and use the app. On your first order you try to take small batches just to get the hang of it.
Instacart's algorithm works so that the more time you put in that you are available to shop, the more orders you will receive. You will also be at the top of the list when a new order comes in. If you mark that you are unavailable one day, you will get a ding and get placed at the bottom the next time you are available. Most gig work is like this and runs on a round-robin algorithm.
In the four years I've been shopping for Instacart, I've averaged 25,000 to 30,000 miles on my Kia Optima just delivering groceries in west Portland.
As a five-star shopper — meaning I have an average of 5-star customer reviews — I try to make no less than $20 to $25 an hour because I don't want to push myself too hard and get hurt. I aim for $1,000 a week, but try to not make less than $750.
At the beginning of the pandemic, there were nearly 1,000 Instacart shoppers in my zone. Probably because people were out of work and looking for additional income. The number of shoppers has gone down since the state reopened in June, because people maybe are back at work, or didn't like being a shopper.
During the spring months of the coronavirus pandemic, my car was like a medical supply store. I didn't stop working, so I made sure to have ample disposable masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectant. I also carried bottles of water, tissues, and gloves.
On the Instacart app we are required to take and log our temperature for the day and report whether or not we were experiencing symptoms before we start delivering. Those first two months of the pandemic, there was no idle time. We were in such high demand. There were so many orders. Sometimes, before the pandemic, you could sit in your car before a new batch came in and rest, but during March and April we had no time to rest.
I never felt afraid of getting sick, because I trusted the precautions I was taking. I knew it was important to do this job during this scary time, because a lot of our customers are seniors and single moms who may not have the time or opportunity to go to the grocery store.
You can read the rest of Kathy's story here in this article
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