Creative Job – Commute Helper

Sometimes I’m amazed at the creativity of some people who earn a good living filling needs that anyone could do. I was at a gathering today when I struck up a conversation with a man who described his job as a “commute helper.”

“OK, what exactly is a commute helper?” I asked

“I help people have a smooth and quick commute,” he replied.

“How do you do that?” I asked

“I sit in their car, ” he said with a smile.

This is what happened. If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, the commutes in certain sections are absolutely horrendous. This guy was sitting in a traffic jam one morning watching all the people in the carpool lane drive by while he was moving at snail’s pace. He decided that he needed to get someone else in his car so that he could get to work in a timely manner using the carpool lane, and at first thought that his only option was to start a carpool.

As he thought about it more, however, he thought that he (as in himself and his body) was actually a valuable commodity and he could sell himself and that is exactly what he did. He walked to the freeway entrance and held up a sign that said,

“Traffic is bad. Spend 2 hours or pay me $10 and get there in 20 minutes”

He said the first day he was picked up within 15 minutes. When he got dropped off, he walked to the other side, held up his sign and got paid to go back the other way too. On a typical day he makes 2 to 3 round trips during the morning commute rush hour and 3 – 5 round trips during the evening rush hour. If there is an accident and traffic is really slow, his price doubles. He clears $100 – $300 a day sitting in a car so others can get to work and home faster!

I just had to laugh when I heard his explanation and how brilliantly simple it was.

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91 Responses to Creative Job – Commute Helper

  1. Daud says:

    Well, it is common for indonesia. We use the same way to cross certain roads. Actually, most of the foreign countries immitated Indonesia’s way.

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  3. Well, I have to hand it to that guy. That’s definitely a pretty cool (and easy) way to make a buck. There will probably be a dozen copycats out there soon enough.

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  6. stipes says:

    It’s an interesting idea, except here in Minneapolis, our carpool lane (nicknamed the “sane-lane”) is also open to people who buy an inexpensive little electronic box. You leave the box in your car, and you can drive in the carpool lane if you have one of these. Depending on where you enter and where you leave, there are listed prices on signs by the entrances. The little box is tied to your credit card or bank account, and the fee is automatically deducted.

    There are cameras and such in place, in a somewhat vague attempt to provide security against those who don’t have any little box in their car, but I’m sure that plenty of people don’t always listen to the signs.

    The main reason they did this was because Minnesota’s transportation budget is always crap (it seems like half our roads are constantly falling apart). It brings in a little bit of extra cash for the state, and it still kind of gives the incentive to carpool (you get to use it for free).

    It does, however, put makes any business like this one pretty useless.

  7. Philip J Fry says:

    Wouldn’t work here in australia cause our carpool lanes or Transit lanes as they are known over here (T3 for short) require you to have 3 people in the car before you are allowed in the transit lane

  8. David Pinero says:

    Believe it or not, this was an episode of Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. Larry David realized he could pay a prostitute to ride with him. The end results were a comedic spectacular. See HBO for listings .

  9. ntgooroo says:

    Just think. People in Houston ride with you for free every day just because you need a rider for the HOV lane and they need a ride. I can’t tell you how many times I picked up free riders. Geez, I could have been charging all this time.

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  11. Jon Ward says:

    this is a wonderful idea. i mean, so simple, so elegant, so profitable. People like this are destined to live well on meager “work” habits. truly brilliant, I applaud you

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  18. Jonathan says:

    “Bob Bobberbob Says:

    June 23rd, 2006 at 12:47 am
    Fusty, when have you ever seen a full carpool lane? The only reason they are attractive is precisely BECAUSE nobody uses them.”

    Here in Houston, it’s common for the carpool lanes to back up solid. Sometimes just as bad or worse than the actual freeway like when there is an accident. That is partly to do with the fact that most of ours are seperated from the mainlanes by barriers. I’m surpised people don’t do this more often here. Good Idea but, yeah, too man wacko’s. Maybe if it were a legitimate business that hired people to do it then it would take off…atleast until the government stepped in.

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  22. Dennis says:

    Wow…that is bizarre. I can’t relate because I work at home full time now. I wonder why they even bother with their cars. Is PT out of the question is SF.


  23. mary says:

    Great idea for a homeless person, eh?

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  31. PENIX says:

    That doesn’t sound like such a great job to me. I wouldn’t want to sit in a car all day for a meager couple hundred bucks.

  32. jomama says:

    Find a need and fill it.

    Weirdest one I’ve ever heard of.

    The best part is he doesn’t have to
    pay taxes.

  33. Sounds like a neat idea, but the risk is too high. Who knows how good/bad of drivers people are. And it will probably cost him a fortune to insure himself.

  34. monoboyzmom says:

    Arthur (Jerry Stiller) did this on an episode of “The King of Queens” years ago.

  35. arman says:

    It’s not such a brilliant idea actually. In jakarta this is very common. Some roads in are designated as “3 in 1” where in rush hour only cars with three or more people in it can go through. A lot of people offer the service to sit in your car for only 60 cents or even less. T

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  37. Andrew says:

    Will only take one person doing it to get killed getting into our out of a car and then it will outlawed. But good on him, not my cup of tea, some real freaks out there.

  38. anonymoustroll says:

    Next step is to take the enterprise Mexican: rent a van filled with illegals (you could easily fit 10 to 15 in the right sized van) and drive slowly down the HOV lane with signs that say honk to recieve a warm body, collect 10 dollars from for each one issued, provide the illegal with bus fare to get to a meet-up point, repeat for return-home commute traffic and pay the illegals the $2 a day that they are worth.

    BTW, his math is way off: 2 to 3 round trips = 4 to 6 rides and @10 per ride, that’s only about half of the $100 low-end figure he says he’s paid.

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  41. Carmen says:

    It seems incredible that was the idea man, very few would have happened that way earn money

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