Driver Stories: Kwam Green on the pandemic
Kwam Green is a TLC driver who has found himself navigating a global pandemic in one of the busiest cities in the world and then contracted the virus himself, and thankfully, was luckier than others have been.
INSHUR asked Kwam to share his experience on how things have changed during the lockdown period, as well as his outlook on his future as a TLC driver in New York City.
What was work like prior to the pandemic?
“I have been a professional driver for a little over a year. Becoming a ride-share driver was different from any other job because I had the flexibility to pursue my own endeavors while making an honest living. Before the pandemic, driving was exciting and fun. I loved meeting new people, exploring the city and venturing to new destinations. In the early months during the onset of COVID-19, there was an eerie tone in the air. Passengers only wanted to talk about the new coronavirus and shared fears, doubts and other thoughts. As soon as March hit, I knew things were taking a turn for the worst. As soon as stay-at-home orders were issued, I temporarily stopped driving.”
How do you feel about your job now?
“After I stopped driving, I discovered I had COVID-19. Fortunately, my symptoms weren’t life-threatening and I didn’t have to be hospitalized. I believe I may have contracted the virus during a ride-share, so I determined the best course of action was to stay off the road until officials tell us it’s safe. Four months later and I have not returned to the road.
Because of the orders issued by the mayor and governor, I don’t feel secure in my job as a ride-share driver. There were no passengers except essential workers, masks were eventually mandated, and makeshift partitions were developed to create a barrier between passenger and driver. Government aid was little and scarce- not enough for the mammoth of a machine which is the driving force of New York City. In my opinion, this is no way to live; I’d much rather choose another profession. As a result, I began looking into e-commerce and have plans to return to work once I have a profitable understanding of the industry.”
What do you make of lockdown?
“Lockdown wasn’t so bad at first. I had COVID so I shouldn’t have been around anyone anyway, plus I’m naturally introverted. Time and space to myself was welcome. After some time, I realized things weren’t getting any better. My son lives with his mother about a mile away. His birthday was on April 22nd. Because of quarantine, I was unable to be present on his birthday. This was the first time I’ve ever missed a birthday in person.
My significant other and I have been quarantined together. We keep each other busy, shop together, and overall just keep each other company. It’s difficult not to see friends and family, but understanding why we can’t helps get us through.”
See here for a guide to mental health and wellbeing for rideshare drivers (please note that the guide was created for a UK audience so some references might not be applicable).
How do you feel about the future of ride-share driving and the local communities?
“Like many other industries, ride-sharing will not be the same, at least for now. Communities will have to learn to be comfortable around one another again in every environment- this affects every industry. For now and for me, the best decision is to work from home.”