Everyday Icon: The Uber driver-partner

Meet Tami Dunlap - mother, wife, special education teacher and Seattle Uber driver partner!
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Amanda Carter Gomes
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Meet Tami Dunlap - mother, wife, special education teacher and Seattle Uber driver partner!
Image Credit: Jenny Jimenez

Image Credit: Jenny Jimenez

We are always interested in finding out the inner workings of people. What they love, what they do and how they do it. In this day and age many women are not confined to a singular role, but instead a collage of identities - case in point, our Everyday Icon, Tami Dunlap. A special education teacher for 26 years, Tami recently added Uber driver-partner to her list of identities. Today we are sitting down with Tami to find out more about her roles, what she has learned from spending years in the classroom and what she has gained by adding a part-time gig to her resume. 

You spend your days working as a special education teacher for junior high school students. What was the impetus for deciding to partner with Uber in addition to your full-time schedule ?

In this day of ever-increasing bureaucracy, the paperwork demands of teaching special education dominate the school culture. Frankly, it sucks the life out of me, and the joy out of teaching. Just over a year ago, I hit a wall: It was give up teaching, or find something to help put some joy back in my life. I considered lots of things,but the idea of being an Uber driver-partner interested me the most.

Being an Uber driver-partner motivates me to get my paperwork done so I can go out and drive. My Uber riders fill my emotional bucket. I love hearing about their lives and families; where they are going or have been; and their triumphs and sometimes their failures. It has been a perfect choice for me.

Image Credit: Jenny Jimenez

Image Credit: Jenny Jimenez

How has the experience as a driver-partner changed the way you view Seattle? Have you discovered any new-to-you spots or hidden gems?

All the hamlets in Seattle are new to me. Uber has broadened my definition of the city. Instead of seeing it as simply the downtown core, I now have an appreciation for the unique neighborhoods that together create the Seattle metro area.

I love driving people to the airport. Even if I am not going anyplace, it is exciting to hear from someone who is. Also, the communities on the Issaquah plateau have been a surprise. I didn't even know these places were there.

I also like SODO. You can always find the unexpected there.

What have you gained from taking on a new part-time role?

The income I generate as an Uber driver-partner goes into a special Tami's Uber Income account. It is money that is not tied to my families budget. I enjoy the freedom of occasionally buying something "just because". You don't get to do that very often on a limited teacher's budget.

I use it as a way to fund projects around the house. My first $2000 was spent on a cover for our deck. My wonderful husband built it, and I paid for it. Perfect.

I have gained:
A positive way to interact and impact a variety of people.
An endless source of stories to share in my classroom and the staff room.
A world of opportunity and experiences.
A way to have fun!

Image Credit: Jenny Jimenez

Image Credit: Jenny Jimenez

What would you say to women looking to supplement their incomes by becoming a driver-partner?

Just do it! Start up costs are low as long as you have a good car and a good phone. It is easy to get signed up, and most can be done on line. Your schedule will be completely yours. There are times when I go weeks without driving because life is just too busy. There is no pressure to get out there and drive. I like to pick up in my own neighborhood because the people are friendly and so appreciative of the ride. I take them where they want to go, turn off the platform, and drive back to my neighborhood and wait for another. You can make the job what you want it to be. I often work from home: fold laundry or grade papers while waiting for a rider.....or if I want to make more money, stay closer to the city so I have a constant flow of riders. If it gets too stressful, I turn it off and go home. Ohhh and most important....you keep your car clean!

Your days must be fairly hectic! Do you have any mantras or mottos that keep you grounded?

For me... it is all about the stories. I try to have a positive impact on the life of every person I encounter whether in the classroom, the store, or my Uber. I want to be a positive chapter in your day's story.

Here at Clementine Daily, we do our best to celebrate the little things in life while always striving to learn and grow. How do you find yourself relating to those goals?

I have been blessed to spend my life making an important impact on the lives of kids in the classroom. Being an Uber driver-partner allows me to touch more lives in the broader community.

A classroom is a very restrictive place, especially after 26 years. As I look forward towards retirement, Uber has allowed me to expand the view of my future. Instead of narrowing as I get older, I see broad vistas opening before me. What shall I do next?

This post is in partnership with Uber. All opinions are our own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Clementine Daily possible!