The gig economy is making some work hard while the rest of us get lazy

Fast food is easier than ever … you want guilt with that? Photo: Maccas.

I remember what it used to be like before Uber Eats.

Not only did I live on a smaller income at the time, still being in the emerging years of my career, but the thought of eating takeout more than once a week was inconceivable. Not only was it expensive, but the additional barrier of the steps I’d need to take to get takeout made it easy to forgo the luxury.

Just think – we had to look up a menu, call our order in, and then try and time it so we drove or walked over to collect our meal when it was ready. Often you’d end up waiting there for a while, and then you had to make the return trip home. All things considered, it was easier to cook.

Those days weren’t that long ago, but the shift in my mindset regarding things like takeout, and other little luxuries that are entirely unnecessary, is astronomical.

The other day, I had my fingers poised over my phone, about to order a takeaway hot chocolate from McDonald’s to be delivered to my house, when the alarm bells went off in my head. What on earth was I doing? Ordering a $15 hot chocolate, when I could easily have made myself a hot drink at home or driven through the drive-thru which is a few minutes down the road from me, or even better, made my way to my local cafe and grabbed a drink from a business that could use the cash. But laziness and convenience had me about to spend three times the going price of a hot chocolate, purely so I wouldn’t have to get up off the couch.

I can’t hide from the truth any longer – the gig economy is making me lazy. And worse, I know I’m contributing to a system that erodes worker rights and consigns people to below minimum wage and ridiculous hours to turn an income.

My issue is, I’ve gotten so used to the convenience of food delivery in particular that whenever I’m tired or have run out of time to go to the shops or (confession time) I just have a craving for dumplings, I order something to be delivered to my house, and it’s so quick and easy it’s usually done before I have time to question my decision making.

The pandemic was probably the original cause of the floodgates opening. Not being able to leave the house and wanting to support local restaurants meant it was easy to justify ordering in constantly.

But more and more, when I meet my delivery driver out front to grab my order, I’m conscious that they’re likely to be shuttling between restaurants and homes for hours and hours each day to eke out enough of an income to make it worthwhile. It certainly dampens the enjoyment of my meal when I can’t ignore the systems that have brought to me at the expense of others.

It might be time to delete the apps and regain some control over my spending/eating habits and my ethics – or am I overthinking it? Is it that bad to spend more and do less to take some of the pressure off during the week, or is this a slippery slope to expensive laziness?

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