My friend Mary Ellen was a highly respected and well-paid executive for years. But with the economy in the toilet, the only executive decision she found herself doing was deciding what to watch on late night TV while she cleaned out her fridge. Like many hard-working Americans who derive a sense of fulfillment from their work, this situation has left her and many others feeling useless. While unemployment can help pay some of the bills, what it cannot cover is that sense of self worth that comes from a job well done.
Finding herself with nothing to do, Mary Ellen helped a friend clean out her entire basement. The friend paid her back by paying Mary Ellen’s rent that month. Hhhmm, thought Mary Ellen. This was last spring. Now Mary Ellen has traded in her suits for sneakers and is happier than she ever was at her 9 to 5. “I love the sense of helping people,” Mary Ellen said, “and feeling useful.” While the perks aren’t as high, she does often get a free meal along with payment. Her skills are vast. She’s designed websites and online photo albums, picked up groceries for the elderly, driven people to the airport, sold belongings at flea markets, and helped organize many an attic. But the real bonus is that she once again feels needed.
And Mary Ellen isn’t the only one finding jobs this way. Taskrabbit.com and Davezillion.com are websites where people can offer up tasks they’re good at, such as assembling IKEA furniture (I love that), computers, landscaping, grocery shopping, recycling and sewing, just to name a few, for a fee. People list their task, their price (usually between $20-$30) and then wait for someone in their area to contact them. And for those who fear strangers, Taskrabbit has a screening process…and even an app!
Gee, people helping people, what a concept. Imagine if the reds and the blues in Washington could work together. I wonder if Taskrabbit has someone with the skills to make that happen.