A DoorDash delivery worker in Palo Alto, California. Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Image.

For Mark Ferguson, delivering food orders for DoorDash was a means to an end after getting separated and needing extra cash — but he says it’s “not a career” and “there’s no ladder to climb."

Why it matters: While on-demand companies often tout the flexibility of the jobs they create, many workers find them unsustainable.

Ferguson, who lives in San Jose, Calif., found food delivery service DoorDash in 2015 through an online ad (probably on Craigslist, he says) and signed up.

  • He “felt more comfortable delivering food over people,” especially given that his car is “modest” and one he’d want to keep pristine for customers.
  • Ferguson has tried various delivery services—including Uber Eats, Caviar, Instacart and Eaze — in part to serve as fodder for his occasional contributions to the Rideshare Guy blog—but he’s mostly stuck with DoorDash.
  • Grocery-focused Instacart is quite different than other food delivery jobs — ”it’s more challenging,” he says. “With Instacart, when you go into the store, you’re looking for items, you’re scanning items, you’re making sure there’s no mold on the berries; it’s a very interactive experience,” adding that it could be more tiring. But he did enjoy the leaderboard for local Instacart workers’ scores, which added an element of friendly competition.

Finding purpose: “On one hand, I do kind of enjoy the change of pace from the typical email and spreadsheets and the 3pm marketing meeting,” says Ferguson, who was working as a project manager at a tech company when he started doing DoorDash.

  • “People are always happy to see you because they’re hungry."

Reality check: “If you think this is a full-time job and you can make it — you’re fooling yourself,” says Ferguson. “These platforms are here to make money and they will find out the absolute bottom before drivers don’t show up.”

  • “I’m under no impression that DoorDash loves me or appreciates me.”
  • He acknowledges that many other jobs have worse working conditions.

Epilogue: Ferguson had to move back into his parents’ home following his separation, but he was eventually able to scrape together enough savings to purchase a condo. Today, he still drives for DoorDash and other services while looking for his next move (he was laid off last summer from his day job).

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
17 mins ago - Economy & Business

White House pushes to uphold TikTok ban

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The U.S. Department of Justice on Friday filed legal opposition to TikTok's request to delay a ban on downloading the app, with a judge expected to rule before the ban is set to go into effect Sunday.

Why it matters: The White House could have simply postponed the ban on its own for another week or two, as it did last Friday. This move suggests it's seeking to use the ban as leverage in ongoing negotiations.

30 mins ago - Podcasts

Substack and the future of media

Traditional media models, and even some of the digital ones, are either under pressure or outright broken. Some journalists have responded by going out on their own, leveraging a new group of startups that help them self-publish and monetize their work.

Axios Re:Cap digs in with Chris Best, CEO of Substack, which has more than 250,000 paying subscribers on its writer network.

Updated 39 mins ago - Politics & Policy

In photos: Ruth Bader Ginsburg lies in state at Capitol

A bipartisan group of female lawmakers line the steps of the Capitol as Ginsburg's casket is carried to a hearse. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

The late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg laid in state at the Capitol on Friday, the first woman and the first Jewish person to receive such an honor.

Driving the news: After a ceremony in National Statuary Hall, Ginsburg's casket was carried down the building's steps — flanked by a group of bipartisan female lawmakers for a final farewell.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!