Janet Sheridan: TaskRabbit could improve my life
Recently in New York City, a dog-loving lady hired a worker to distract her chihuahua while she completed a project. Evidently, the dog was a showboat, and the doting owner was a milquetoast incapable of putting her grandstanding dog in another room. Thus, according to a report on CNBC.com, an able-bodied young man chatted with the owner, played with the dog, watched TV for two hours, and earned $51.
Both the worker, called a tasker, and the dog’s owner, a customer, had registered with TaskRabbit, an online, contract-labor platform. TaskRabbit customers describe their job and browse the skills, prices, and reviews of registered taskers on the site, selecting those they want to contact.
Most customers want help with cleaning, furniture assembly, packing, moving, and handyman work. But then there is the dog distracter and a lady tasker who cleaned up after a show pig, evidently a free-range porker, while it ran around a posh duplex willy-nilly making messes. So I think if I win the lottery, I can use taskers for jobs that, while admittedly strange, are no odder than those.
I’d hire a tasker to accompany me to my medical appointments to complete the reams of paperwork required before I can have my swollen toe attended to. Never again would I have to record the medical history of myself, my family, and my ancestors going back three generations. No more would I list every pill I swallow, including the ibuprofen I take once or twice a year after completing paperwork in a doctor’s office. The tasker could slog through the lengthy list of dire medical conditions, checking those from which I suffer and describing my sleeping, eating, and drinking habits as well as my mental state without worrying about accuracy because I doubt anyone reads my responses. Someday, I’m going to check the accuracy of my dubiousness by writing in response to the standard question about other concerns I may have, “I sometimes think I’m a plum.”
Another tasker could hover around the house, stepping in to perform tasks that irk me: maintaining sanitary conditions when I cook, running to wave a towel in front of the smoke detector when I bake, ripping out errant stitches when I sew, and dusting.
A forgiver would be nice. This tasker would watch for opportunities to whisper reassurances in my ear: “Of course you ate some of the cookie dough. Everybody does. And how many of your friends and relatives have died of salmonella?” “Anyone could have introduced S. Nella Marsh as Smella Marsh. You were nervous.” So what if you were late for your appointment and the snippy receptionist announced to one and all that your appointment had actually been two days earlier? It just slipped your mind.”
I’d hire a tasker as a devil’s advocate to point out what could go wrong with every decision I make concerning clothing — “Plaid, ruffled, full-skirted dresses went out of style the same time square dancing did” — decorating the house — “If you put one more frilly pillow in that room, you’ll risk suffocating a guest” — or planning a dinner party — “Do you realize your menu has beans in every dish except dessert?”
I could also use a scribe with perfect penmanship to record my thoughts in the cards and letters I like to send to those important to me. After years of doing all my writing on a computer, the minute I pick up a pen, I resort to the third-grader I once was: crouched over my desk, clutching my pencil too tightly and pressing too hard, incapable of making forming my letters to the satisfaction of Mrs. Beal, whose tsking at the sight of my scrawling made her chin hairs jiggle.
Unfortunately, TaskRabbit isn’t available in the Yampa Valley; I haven’t won the lottery; and Joel isn’t interested in earning any extra money.