Jerry Taft made $84.61 working as an Uber driver Monday in Naples, Fla.
Not bad for his first day at the wheel.
But Taft, who’s been living in the Sunshine State since he retired last month from WLS-Channel 7 after a 40-plus year career as a weatherman, is by no means hellbent on beginning a new career.
“I took a few breaks in there between rides to get a hot dog and stuff, you know,” he said with a laugh during a phone chat Tuesday.
And there’s one rule in the car.
“I don’t talk weather!” Taft, 74, said, joking.
No problem there. No one recognized him — despite a large contingent of Chicagoans who spend winters in the area.
Taft is a self-proclaimed “talker” and the gig seemed like an easy way to “get out and do something.”
“I enjoyed the fact that you meet people and then you can turn the app off and go in to a golf store and look at clubs then go back to your car and turn the app on and pick another fare,” Taft, an avid golfer, said.
“The best part is you’re your own boss. For 40 years I was a slave to the clock. We went on air every day at exactly the same time. I couldn’t call my boss and say, ‘Hey, I’m going to be a little bit late.'”
He applied and was cleared to drive for Uber a few weeks ago.
“Yesterday I figured I’d give it a try,” said Taft, who tools around in a Ford Fusion.
His passengers included a guy who needed a ride to pick up beer on his day off, three Haitans who spoke little English and a pilot who Taft mistakenly began driving to the wrong airport before realizing the error.
“It was OK, though. I’m an ex-Air Force guy, so we just talked about planes,” he said.
“Maybe I’ll go drive again this afternoon,” said Taft. “You’re not going to make a lot of money doing this. And I’m not doing it to make a lot of money,” he added.
Taft said he has declined offers to work in real estate as someone who could schmooze potential clients from Chicago.
“I don’t want to schmooze anybody anymore, you know? I’ve been schmoozing for over 40 years. The schmoozing is over,” he said with a chuckle.
Taft said it’s possible he’ll continue his occasional Uber gig when he returns to his Chicago area home during the warmer months.
How else is retirement going?
“So far I like it,” he said. “I bought a Crock-Pot.”