New York City, NY, USA – New Yorkers with money to burn are paying people to stand in line for them instead of queueing for a coronavirus test in the run-up to Thanksgiving. Lines can sometimes be hours long as people scramble to get tested before the holidays when they plan to meet up with friends and family members, Daily Mail reported.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 plandemic, millions of Americans have become unemployed and now many are turning to the gig economy to make money. Those looking to make some extra income are posting their services on the freelance marketplace TaskRabbit with some charging up to $80 an hour for the service.
“I’ve already done this about five times,” said one out-of-work writer to the New York Post, adding, “One day I got hired to do two lines, so that’s how busy it is. Every day I’m getting inquiries.”
Despite New Yorkers being advised to cancel any holiday plans they had made and avoid traveling, testing sites have been busier than usual as thousands look for some reassurance before traveling. In the “gig economy”, waiting in line and getting paid for it is the perfect way to pick up some extra cash.
The term “side gig” has become synonymous with a handful of jobs: dog walking, delivering groceries and driving for Uber or Lyft. But these aren’t the only opportunities occupying the space and waiting in line for others is proving to be extremely popular. One woman told how she had been getting up to three inquiries a day in order to wait in line for coronavirus testing and was able to charge up to $28 an hour.
“A lot of people want to visit family or take trips for Thanksgiving and they need some kind of documentation stating they’re COVID free. One of my clients said they’re going on a trip and she needs documentation before she goes,” said one queue-waiter.
She noted that most of her clients were “in their 20s, work remotely and have the money to spend”.
“I’ve waited at the CityMD near Wall Street, waited in Park Slope, I’ve waited on East 37th street and Fulton near the World Trade Center,” she added.
Before the plandemic, people were often called upon using the app to wait in line for everything from new iPhones to Broadway tickets and concert seats for which an appearance at the box office in-person was necessary. Another user on TaskRabbit who is 27 told The Post how she was able to charge $80 an hour.
“A cute guy hired me to wait in line in Greenpoint and when I first got there, I know this sounds silly, I was kind of bummed because the line looked short I was like, I came all the way out to Greenpoint and I’m just gonna be out here for an hour or something. But then it took three hours,” the woman stated.
“I was socially distanced, I had my mask on, everyone else was socially distanced and, you know, I just like spent the time in line talking to my grandma and stuff,” she continued.
“Relatively speaking, it’s less dangerous for a tasker to wait outside in a mask for a few hours than it is to think getting a test before you see family is the thing that’s going to make everything OK,” she noted.