Empty Days

Tuesday, March 15, 2005



My first day as a bike messenger.

So I did it, yes. Waited for better weather to set in and then went to look for a job. Got one the same day, after trying a few places. Today was my debut - not too bad, with the exception of totally exhausted limbs at the moment and wasting a lot of time and effort looking for places. I am not really working for a big bike-messenger company, it's a courier outfit and they have two bikers and a half (I am being the half from inexperience).

I can't believe how much sweat I exuded over the course of my errands. This is largely due to my not being properly equipped for the job - I wear a down jacket and this really induces perspiration. But I don't have anything else to wear and when temps dropped at the end of the day it did save me a lot of shivering in the cold wind.

Another thing I found out: the hardest part is not biking, it's operating the two-way radio (or some sort of pager cum mobile). I hate this radio - it's impossible to communicate normally with this thing, there are constantly gaps in connection, instead of voice you hear crackling sounds etc etc etc. I misunderstood a few of those addresses the dispatch gave me. But he knew my predicament and he was nice about me messing up a bit. I completed all calls on time though (barely, haha). It's essential to have a wise dispatcher it seems because he's the one who knows what a biker can be expected to do and gives out calls accordingly. Today he knew I was going to be slow, messed-up, and generally ineffectual - so he just waited for me to call in and gave me a couple of runs at a time. All in all a very kind and wise dispatch. What this means is that I had no pressure to speak of and everything went a little too good to be true.

Well, we'll see how this shall develop.

And of course, the other main attraction of the job: the total and utter disregard and detachment it affords towards the great bustling business-world of the downtown. Only bike couriers are allowed to be total bums and yet penetrate in the holiest of the holy of all those high-profile mega-social-success places. It's a very funny feeling: being a true alien amidst an obliviously monotonous population. It's hard for those people out there, climbing the social ladder, clinging to those high-paying jobs. I don't know how they do it - biking is a piece of cake by comparison, even if it's a sweaty dirty job etc.

Of course so far all this is a novelty but I may get bored with it eventually. I just don't know yet. I don't even know how much I made today - all I know is I did something like 15 calls and I started around 10am because we couldn't make the goddam radio work. Anyway.

One incident: I nearly got "doored" at some point but was lucky. Should be more careful next time.

And another thing - I am really not fast compared to some of those fixed-gear superbikers out there. But at the same time I don't care: because still it's more important to know exactly where places are than to go 60 mph straight to hell. And I can't climb tremendous hills with no gears - and will not be able to in a very long while I think. So all in all, things are looking good even though i will never become too much of a biker - I don't like to force beyond reason even though I did force a lot today, to the point of getting cramps in my foot at some point.

Last remark: some of the bikers are true characters. Today saw a guy who kept saying "it's a beautiful world" and smiling all over the place. Like some born-again christian or what not. Cracked me up big time.





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