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Omaha ‘lime juicer’ works unorthodox hours charging scooters

Posted at 1:39 PM, Jul 14, 2019

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Downtown Omaha resident Rob Luhrs spends his early mornings and late nights hunting for scooters.

Luhrs, 41, is a “juicer” of Lime scooters (“Lime juicer” — get it?) who charges scooters and then sets them out again around town. He said he makes about $60 a day, seven days a week, doing the work. During the College World Series, he said, he was making between $80 and $90 a day.

Luhrs also is an instructor of Brazilian jiu-jitsu and a part-time real estate broker who works for a grocery delivery service. But he said he hopes to make charging scooters his primary source of income.

“I want to work when I want to,” he told the Omaha World-Herald. “When I want to take a day off, I don’t want anybody complaining about it, and if I work extra hard, I want to get paid more. I can’t just go apply to somewhere and get that job.”

Electric scooters debuted May 15 in the downtown, midtown, Blackstone, Benson and Aksarben areas after Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert approved a six-month pilot program the day before. Since then, the green Lime scooters share the roads with orange scooters from Spin, the other company that is part of the pilot program.

To start, Luhrs bought six chargers. Under a special promotion offered by Lime, the chargers cost him $10 each, down from the normal $20. Luhrs hasn’t yet gotten his first electric bill after being hired in mid-June, but from what he has read, each scooter charge adds about 10 cents to a person’s electric bill.

On top of the expenses, juicers work unorthodox hours. They go out between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. — sometimes later — to pick up scooters that need charging, then charge them overnight and set them out before 7 a.m.

Luhrs and other Lime juicers are independent contractors who get paid for every scooter they charge. The company hires people to repair broken scooters.

Spin operates differently. Instead of using contract workers, the company hires employees to collect, charge, fix and deploy its scooters. Those who work more than 30 hours a week are entitled to benefits that include paid time off and health insurance, among other things, the company said.

To get top marks from the company, Luhrs said, scooters must be in place by 7 a.m. and have a charge of 95% or higher. They also must line up in a row, 6 to 8 inches apart, with handlebars tilted to the left. Luhrs also must take a photo of each scooter after it has been set out.

Luhrs plans to buy an SUV — a size upgrade over his Mitsubishi Eclipse — to carry more scooters.

A Lime spokesman said the company is not hiring juicers in Omaha. A spokeswoman for Spin said the company isn’t hiring in the Omaha area, but the company’s website says it’s looking for “operations specialists” in the Lincoln area.

Luhrs said charging scooters is a great job for “independent-minded entrepreneurs.”

“For me personally, I’m willing to spend time during the day picking up scooters and make it a full-time gig,” he said. “I see other people out there, during the daytime, picking up scooters, so I know that they’re trying to make it a full-time gig, too.”