Quit Your Job and Go to Work

The future of employment was meant to liberate us from the shackles of a 9-to-5. In fact, it’s leaving people in an impossibly annoying, semi-flexible purgatory.

Lauren Smiley
Matter
Published in
19 min readJun 10, 2015

--

By Lauren Smiley

This spring, Michanne was striding out of a San Francisco apartment lobby in her Google Express jacket, fresh off delivering a mirror. Her van beckoned at the curb. It was branded in Google’s playful primary colors and logo, and on the side was the image of a package getting dropped from a parachute, easy-peasy. Michanne’s job was to make same-day, seamless deliveries of bottled water and kitty litter for Google Express, but she doesn’t actually work for Google Express — not directly, anyway. If you looked carefully, just below the van door, a few small, gray letters spelled out something most people didn’t realize: this vehicle wasn’t Google’s after all. It belonged to a company called 1–800Courier.

That day had actually been a good one. Michanne, who is 27, had worked the full eight hour shift that she’d been scheduled by 1–800Courier — one of several companies that delivers for Google Express in the Bay Area, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and New York City. But full days like that were becoming rare. (She didn’t want to use her last name for privacy reasons.)

When I called her back a month later and asked her to rate her job from 1 to 10, she was more upfront about her level of annoyance: “If 1 is a nightmare, I’m like a 1.5.” In fact, she’d quit.

Her complaint came down to this: she says 1–800Courier had verbally assured her full-time work when she started with the company back in October. It was a paycheck the new mother was counting on, one that didn’t leave her time to work another job. And in the company’s scheduling app she was technically scheduled for 40 hours a week for weeks in advance.

Yet, increasingly, her actual hours were decided the day of work. Michanne had to check her email an hour and a half before her first shift started to see if she would actually get to work the hours…

--

--

Lauren Smiley
Matter

San Francisco journalist studying humans in the Tech Age. For WIRED, California Sunday, and San Francisco Magazine. Alum of Matter and Backchannel.