“When I moved to Mobile, I started working at a Dollar General. That didn’t work out because I have asthma and can’t wear a mask. Instacart and DoorDash were the main jobs I could do, but my old truck was pitiful and wore out. I borrowed a friend’s car to make deliveries. In the beginning, when everything was completely closed, DoorDash picked up. Money from DoorDash was good for a while, that plus the check for working with the Census and help from Homeless in Mobile helped me replace my vehicle. Now I can deliver more.
We were moving between friends’ houses. If I couldn’t find a friend to stay with, my one-year-old and I slept in the car. I parked in a Pilot or a Walmart parking lot and no one would notice us. You don’t get much rest. There’s a seatbelt buckle in your back, there is no room to stretch out, and you’re always bumping into something else. When the sun comes out, everybody starts moving and it gets hot. Six or seven o’clock comes and the sun is out and saying wake up. Moms sleeping in cars with kids are good at hiding. This past week I found a lady outside Mobile that has trailers that are $200 a week with $300 down so we are about to have a place to live.
DoorDash gives a base pay of $3 to $5. The rest comes from customer tips. We spend about 30 minutes on the delivery, plus gas. If customers don’t tip, I lose money. I make $20 or $30 on a bad day. Sometimes I make $100. A couple of weeks ago, a lady tipped $8 on the app, then handed me a $50 bill at her door. That was the week I was short on daycare money and that $50 took care of it. I was so thankful to her. I’ve noticed that some of the people who live in trailer parks or who work at gas stations tip $8, $10, or $12 even though they are struggling themselves. Some people in the half-million-dollar homes tip $1. I’ve stayed out doing DoorDash until one or two in the morning. Late at night, the only thing open is Krystal, Wendy’s and Krispy Kreme. Delivering is a little more dangerous.
It seems like more people are delivering for DoorDash and someone is always waiting for your shift. I’ve noticed more elderly people my grandma’s age are delivering witn InstaCart. I was in the grocery store this week doing an Instacart order and an older lady was trying to figure out how the app works for her delivery. InstaCart is grocery delivery used more by older people who can’t get out. I delivered a few groceries to an older couple a couple of days ago. She came out with a bag of change and apologized that it was all she had to tip. I wouldn’t take it. She said they don’t have a car and can’t go to the store anymore. Her order was all of the money she had.
If I end up with a little extra money after a good day, I’ll put snacks together and give them out at Tillman’s Corner. I have a friend from Job Corps who is sometimes homeless and I help him or give him lunch. I care for Mr. Rick who is missing an eye and can’t see half of the world. I also have a three-and-a-half year daughter. I don’t have custody of her and I am trying to get everything fixed so she can come home. She still hasn’t met her little brother and he’s almost two. Things are getting more stable. I am working so hard to get my family back.”
This is one of the interviews for the story, “Wave of Homelessness,” that will be in Lagniappe this week. The wave of homelessness is beginning to hit in Mobile and across the country. Waves of evictions and bankruptcies are coming after the moratoriums end.