In the summer of 2018, I was an independent contractor for two dockless electric scooter companies. Bird called me a "charger." Lime labeled me a "juicer." I was paid to find scooters with dead batteries, take them to my condo to recharge them, and put them back on the streets at 5:30 a.m.
A crappy, menial job? It was thankless. People who see scooters as dangerous contraptions that litter the streets shot me eye daggers. To them, I was vermin.
Truth be told, I reveled in being a scooter wrangler. The hushed Gaslamp Quarter was my dimly lit movie set. Like on Westworld, I carried a high-tech device (my cell phone) that enabled me to detect and track "host" machines with issues.
The competition with other chargers to find and deploy scooters could get intense, since we’re paid per charge.
I usually got up at 5:30 a.m., and moved methodically from one to another. Many chargers used cars. I did it by foot. Sometimes I ran, with one eye on my Westworld device and the other watching for "enemy agents" (or trolleys, which start regular service at 5 a.m.).
By the end of the summer, extenuating circumstances demanded that I reluctantly give up the job. But it was exhilarating. It got me out of bed early—and since I couldn’t go back to sleep afterward, I usually went to the gym for a morning workout.
The job and the gym visits helped me lose 10 pounds. Body by Bird.