Colder weather benefiting some people who charge Birds

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COLUMBIA - Luke Herring had never heard of Bird scooters when they landed in Columbia in August.

"As soon as I came up here for classes in August, I saw them all over the streets and didn't know anything about them," Herring said.

It was still a few days later before he heard he could make money off of the new tech in town.

"About three or four days later, I heard you could charge them. About four days later I applied to get the job," Herring said. 

Herring sent in an application to Bird and soon received three chargers. He was one of the first in Columbia to start charging the scooters, and remembers the confusion surrounding his new job.

"People thought I was stealing them at first," Herring said.

Since then, he has bought 22 more chargers online and traded in his sedan for a extra-wide pickup truck to be able to collect and charge more scooters. Herring said he has been averaging charging 45 scooters each night over the last few weeks.

This is more than he has collected for most of the fall, and he credits the changing weather with the increase in business.

"As it gets colder, you see less and less chargers out there collecting scooters," Herring said.

Herring would not discuss how much money he makes working for Bird, but Bird gives its chargers between $5 and $20 for each scooter. The harder a scooter is to find, the more money Bird gives chargers. Herring said most of the scooters he charges are of the $5 variety. Conservatively, if these 45 scooters each night were $5 each, Herring is averaging $1,575 each week if he works seven days.

However, getting these 45 scooters each night is hard work. Herring's night starts around 8:50pm, when he finds a group of scooters to wait near for when the company shuts the scooters off at 9:00pm. Then, it is a race to see how many scooters he can load into his truck until the scooters are all picked up.

"I used to like the competition, but now I just wish we could claim them beforehand," Herring said.

After getting as many scooters as he can, Herring brings all of the scooters back to his house, where he moved the kitchen table out of the way to make room for all of the Birds.

"I have to wake up in the middle of the night to switch out the charged ones for the dead ones if I get too many," Herring said. 

He then leaves his house with the charged scooters at 4:00am, and has all of the scooters out and ready to ride by 7:00 per the company's request. 

"I'm a morning person, so waking up at four isn't that big of a deal, but I bet it's the worst part of the job for some people," Herring said.

The scooters are then used by people like Leo Theodore, who relies on Herring and other chargers placing the scooters in a reliable location. 

"On days that I have my eight am and I want 10 to 15 more minutes of sleep, I'll sleep in a little longer knowing that there are four scooters right next to my house and I rely on that to get to class," Theodore said.

Users like Theodore, who said he rides 5 to 6 times each week are a help to Herring.

"I go behind peoples houses and into parking lots and stuff just because I know repeat customers and I know there is going to be a scooter there," Herring said.

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