Mhay-Ann Carriza De Felipe, 29, began driving part-time for Uber and Lyft in Las Vegas in 2021.
She says she doesn't feel unsafe but does encounter drunk men who proposition her.
This is her story, as told to writer Jenny Powers.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Mhay-Ann Carriza De Felipe, a 29-year-old Uber and Lyft driver in Las Vegas. Insider has verified her income and employment with documentation. The following has been edited for length and clarity.
Last year, I began driving part-time for Uber and Lyft as a way to help pay off medical bills and bring in some extra cash to cover basic necessities like groceries to feed our family of four.
Since then, I've driven about 20,000 miles, done more than 2,200 rides, and earned more than $50,000.
Prior to the pandemic, I'd shop at designer outlets like Coach and Michael Kors and then resell the merchandise at a markup online, but when my sales started to suffer, I knew it was time to find a more lucrative alternative. That's when I turned to rideshare driving.
I drove part-time at first, usually working 3 days a week for between 8 and 12 hours a day
Due to COVID-19, my sons, now 5 and 9 years old, were in remote school. My husband, who worked for a transportation company, was working from home, so it was easy for me to drive during school hours and on my husband's days off.
Three months into doing rideshare, after earning as much as $500 in a day, I saw the potential and began driving full-time. For a mom like me, it's a great job because I'm able to set my own hours and work when it's best for my family's schedule.
I can turn off the app whenever I want and spend time with my family without a boss or coworkers pressuring me to stay late or work more, and having that kind of convenience and flexibility is my favorite part of the job.
These days, my least favorite part of my job is the increased gas prices that affect my earnings
According to AAA, gas prices in Las Vegas are now more than $5 per gallon, which is higher than the national average.
I have a 5-star rating, so based on that and my low cancelation rates, I've achieved Uber Platinum status — a level that unlocks a variety of benefits, including a complimentary annual Costco membership. I try to fill up my tank on discounted gas there as often as I can.
We used to own a Honda Fit and a Chrysler van, and I would take turns driving them both.
The bigger the vehicle, the higher the rate, so I could earn more driving the van through Uber XL. But in January we sold the van at my husband's recommendation. Just last month we went electric, replacing it with a Tesla Model Y to save on gas.
People often ask me if as a woman I feel safe doing this kind of work, especially since I often drive at night
This March marked one year that I've been rideshare driving full-time, and the truth is, I do feel safe — even driving up until 2 a.m.
As far as vehicle safety, both cars are equipped with dual-facing dashcams. That means one camera faces inside the vehicle while the other faces the road.
As for personal safety, my husband bought me pepper spray and an electric shock taser. I'm prepared to defend myself should the need arise, but luckily it hasn't.
In addition to these safety devices, once I turn on the Uber app and begin driving, my location can be shared with family and friends through the "Follow My Ride" feature. They're then able to track my whereabouts at all times. My husband, who died in a recent motorcycle crash, always liked the fact that wherever I was out there driving, he could glance at his phone and know where I was and that I was safe.
While I've never feared for my own safety, I've certainly had my share of awkward situations
Driving late at night in Vegas pretty much guarantees sooner or later, you'll pick up a drunk guy.
Some guys will flirt and ask for my number. Others ask if I want to hook up with them. The more aggressive types will offer me money to go up to their hotel room with them.
I always decline and then I give them three choices: I can drop them off at their hotel, leave them stranded in the middle road, or drive them directly to the police station.
That's when I hear them start to squirm in the back seat as they mull over their choices. They usually let out a nervous laugh and apologize before choosing the first option.
After that, they remain quiet the rest of the ride. Right before they get out of the car, they typically apologize again and tip me in cash.
One time, my passenger was a drunk rapper who kept insisting I find his song on Spotify
He wanted me to blast it on repeat while he sang in the back seat at the top of his lungs.
In between singing, he'd proposition me. I politely declined and gave him my standard three options. Like all the other guys before him, he chose to be dropped off at his hotel and then shut up.
The next day I got a message that he left his wallet filled with cash in my car.
I had the feeling it was just a ploy to see me again, so I took a video of me retrieving the wallet from the back seat. I opened it to reveal its empty contents with my mother-in-law alongside me as my witness.
Then I drove to meet him and return his empty wallet. I remained inside my car and handed it over, telling him he'd probably spent or lost the cash in the bar that I'd picked him up from the night before.
He apologized for his behavior and tipped me $20. I thanked him and warned him not to try that type of stuff with other women drivers because next time he might not be so lucky and they'd call 9-1-1 on him.
Since my husband was killed in a crash while riding his motorcycle recently, I can no longer share my location with him when I get in the car and turn on my Uber app. I pray he's still looking out for me and protecting me from up above as I continue to drive and care for our two boys.
Are you a current or former rideshare driver and have a story to tell? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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