The gig-economy is alive and well after COVID. I was initially skeptical on its survival during the initial shock of the quarantine. I figured that if the public perceived the disease as deadly then maybe they would avoid delivery services or reserve them only for the most essential items like groceries and medicine. That has not happened.
Yet, I also feel I should have known that it was uniquely positioned to thrive at a time of high unemployment and government mandated isolation. I also didn’t quite realize just how many would want to charge back into the economy so quickly, or those who would deny the existence or harshness of the disease altogether. Several months into quarantine and the mood of America is very much one of defiance to the disease. The result will be a brilliant victory or failure and terror. The disease will determine.
It turns out that locking people in their homes and giving them nothing else to do makes them spend their money. When you’ve got nowhere new to go, you can make somewhere come to you. Groceries, take out, toilet seats, bike helmets, exercise equipment, office equipment, alcohol, weed, tobacco, 4k monitors, chapstick, caw-fee, graduation ceremonies, birthday’s even. All straight to the front door! America continues.
A few simple taps on the ol’ smartphone gets it delivered straight to your face if it’s still available. You can bring the world to your front door if you’ve got a smartphone, a credit card, and time. Time is abundant. Delivery apps go beyond solving the logistics problems of quarantine because they provide the end user with the luxury of feeling in control in a world defined by a general slow rolling and uncertain terror. Quarantine is bad but it’s not the end of the world if you are still employed and can bring the world to you on demand. With isolation there are new problems to solve along with new ways to escape them! Whatever you need, essentials will deliver it. If it’s there.
And so many bring the world to their front door.
On all days and at all hours there is a line of people standing between you and what you ordered online and they are dedicated to making sure shit comes directly to your front door within 24 hours. Someone is standing within a 15 minutes arms-reach of an item you ordered at 9:38 PM on a Friday evening. It’s stored in a warehouse that is built somewhere between urban centers on cheap land in a outskirt newly suburban neighborhood you’ve only bought Wendy’s in while pulling off the freeway to take a leak white traveling through. At this town, a large team of people are there waiting, at all hours, of all days, no holidays, no sick pay, no benefits, no retirement, no health insurance. Just press the button to trigger a reaction in the supply chain. A column of humans operating an array of transportation and shipping devices reacts in formation to bring it to your front door. Maybe a person picks it off the shelf. Maybe it’s a robot. From there, a person loads and delivers it to an aircraft, where it is loaded by another worker, to be flown to Los Angeles and unloaded by more people who then deliver it to a distribution hub to be delivered in the last mile by an essential worker.
The poor beckon the roar of the consumption machine to return less they get evicted. Rent is due. Mortgages are due. Health insurance. That’s due too. We appreciate your hard work during these uncertain times. Your bank is here for you with an emergency insertion order of prebuilt disaster messaging featuring stock footage of medical workers, red crosses, and neon vests. The landlord lowered my rent by 5% and told us if we pay in full they will apply our extra 5% to those who cannot pay. We’re here for you. And you and you if you pay your rent. Call us if you need help. Carole Baskin.
At the beckoning of your shopping cart checkout mark, we will run it to you. We don’t care about the disease. We are essential. We have been prepared mentally to accept the risk. Whether it be a 01%, .67%, 1.5%, or even 3.2% case fatality rate. Rent is due. There are many flavors of misinformation, propaganda, and conspiracy theories conveniently available in our feeds to reassure the most vulnerable of us. We can feel safe if only we choose to. It’s more widespread and less have died. We might have already had it. Tis’ just the flu. It doesn’t effect me because I only go out on Saturday. Plus, it’s not really out this way. They are lying about the numbers. its a conspiracy to make me unemployed before the election. Anyhow, we are essential. We have no healthcare. No protection. Let’s get in there for America’s economy!
You check the box and we’ll run it to you. Headphones. Food processor. Chicken breast. Humalin. Warehouse worker. Truck driver. Airplane packer. Airplane pilot. Someone unloads the plane. Puts that shit on a truck, that truck goes to a distribution center. An essential worker transfers your shit from the truck at distribution center and then another essential worker sorts and puts it in the back seat of someone else’s hybrid. Maybe the last mile is someone with a name you can’t pronounce. Maybe it’s your grandpa who didn’t quite save enough for retirement and still believes it’s the first guys fault.
Maybe you need some hair dye. Maybe you need 4 more pounds of ground beef. An essential worker will get it to you.
Many of these essential people are labelled as businesses. Each sell their time and energy and some sell more time and energy than others. Sometimes I only sell a little bit of time and energy in exchange for a treat; For example, a meal prepared by another essential worker. Most sell the majority of their time and energy to get to next week. They are not employees but businesses selling their time. Delivering your packages and groceries and medicine. They value the freedom and flexibility to sell their time on the time market, which they can do at any time of the day that they wish. Get in your car, start your engine, fire up the time-for-money app. These businesses cannot be scaled as one cannot drive more than one hybrid, load more than one package, drive more than one truck, at a time. These single person businesses provide time and energy in exchange for some money. They have not been managed by another person directly in years and this is seen as a form of freedom by some of them. Since extra time cannot be added to a person you would think the price of time is expensive and precious. Yet the price of time is cheap because the supply of time available to be provided in the economy far outweighs the need for time by miles and columns beyond the horizon of comprehension. The essential time required to operate the economic machine can be represented perhaps by a teacup that needs to be filled, but has the entirety of the Colorado river to fill it. Required yet bountiful.
An endless sea of these single person micro-businesses stand at the ready to sell a portion of their 24 hours of time in exchange for some, or any revenue. These businesses are not employees in the eyes or practice of the law or society. Yet they are essential. They cannot file for unemployment insurance, see a doctor, take a sick day off, or retire in dignity and must return to work at once because they are essential.
Although certain parts of the supply chain are automated, most of this it still performed via human labor. The labor is essential. You plug yourself into it and become part of it. Accept the next request. And the next one. Until you can’t anymore. Until your legs are jello and someone has yelled at you for blocking the road to make your delivery one too many times. Made $200 today and managed not to touch anyone. I read that it’s not really spread much through surfaces. Plus many say it’s not as bad as they thought. We have bent the curve. 2000 dead today. Someone says the death count is a scam.
Those with the means to avoid the virus can buy themselves the liberty of choosing when and how to interact with the world. They can choose to be careful or to run loose with no worry of paying consequences to the disease. They can choose to go to the State Capitol and protest if they wish. They can choose to assemble only with friends or to only visit family and tell themselves that they are safe and that the disease isn’t all that bad but the truth is that they can only afford such an opinion because they themselves are not required to risk their life to recover their capital. Those with the most are now required to risk their capital to protect our health. To them, the biggest hit from this is to their wallets, portfolios, and other meager peasant assets. They have assets to protect yet they will not put their asses on the line to fight the disease.
From behind the bubble that essentials provide them, they demand we go before them to determine if it is safe to go outside. We can still save the economy if we treat the hospitalization rate like a GPU and only occasionally go over 70% of the available hospitalization rate. It might even be worth overclocking it if we can manage to prevent a recession altogether right?
Our labor is essential.
For an extra $5 you can command an item to appear to you within 24 hours. You can even pay more and get it NOW damnit! You have to really want something if you are willing to wait 48 hours, 72 hours, or the in the worst case scenario: 3 business days starting from Monday whilst ordering on a Friday.
“Awww WEDNESDAY!!! C’MON!!!”.
Fortunately, time is now a construct bended to a curve around the gravity of reality. You are going to order it anyway. It feels good and gives you something to look forward to.
Sourdough starter kits
theories for breakfast
People need to go outside
a worker died at that place
We must reopen to beat china
several uber drivers died in NYC
A “government worker” in a text message chain told me it was a conspiracy where [insert some outlandish shit]
allergies are common in spring
A famous VC says we can reopen some things if hospital capacity is at 70% or lower
too tired to go to the hospital
We can reduce the impact on the economy by 20% by keeping it at 80% and we can even grow a little if we overclock to 105!
Used hybrid: for sale
Our jobs are what is essential. WE are expendable. That makes us something special: The Expendables!