Empty Days

Saturday, April 02, 2005

The Pope has passed away.

I liked this man - and I envy his death in a way.


I can't describe how tired I am from yesterday (Friday) - all the muscles in my body hurt and I stayed in bed until 5pm today because I pretty much was too sore to move :-/

Also today it's raining buckets and it's cold as hell, so I am really very glad that this atmospheric awfulness was reserved for the weekend and not for my most grueling day on the job - which was gray and cold enough but without any rain. Basically it was biking and running-around non-stop from 8am to 4pm with barely 15 min for eating a sandwich on a bench somewhere. I was hungry, cold, and generally exhausted all day long, on top of which the dispatcher was in a totally sour mood and didn't want to talk to anybody.

One good thing though: it was my last day on that job!


So what would I say about bike-messenging?

Well, it's really like some weird cross between construction-worker and fisherman: very physical, grueling, exposed to atmospheric conditions, and also constantly controlled and pressured by a boss.

What are the very worst things about messenging? No, not taxis and jay-walkers or low-pay - but bossy control-freak maniacal dispatchers and bad weather!

What are the best things then? No, not the famed bikers' "scene" :) But smooth riding in good physical rhyrthm, perfect harmony with the world and yourself, control of the bike and environment, meeting interesting people and situations. And good weather!

All in all, to be able to enjoy being a messenger one absolutely needs two things: a dispatcher that communicates and reacts well, and all-weather gear so as to face any shit out there. A good bike is also important. I think after about a month or two of this one would get into sufficient physical shape not to be too tired all the time.
It's insane to do this for money - because the money is definitely not anywhere near the effort required (how about being paid $1 for a super-exhausting long ride, just as well as for a turn and walk around the corner? it's just too absurd to mention).

I think that this job probably resembles waitressing - I could never understand where these poor waitresses find the strength and energy to run around all day long with heavy trays, facing clients' moods all the while.
What justifies messenging for me is the opportunity to be alone on my bike and do as I please more or less.

Ouf - still too tired to type though :-/

Friday, April 01, 2005

Urbi et orbi: I hate 9 to 5 full-time week - never again.


Pope Jean-Paul II is dying. I liked his personality though I could care less about Vatican etc. There can't be too many Popes in one's lifetime, I guess :-0

Fool's day.

It's April first and a Friday - the last day of a work-week. A perfect setting for all sorts of stupid pranks from pissed-off co-workers.


I must admit though that I feel relieved I am going to be free from this particular work-place. I didn't like the main dispatcher and I don't think we could have cooperated well together if I tried to stay at this job. From the go I had a strong intuition about this guy, that he would try to play power-games with me - and he did, no mistake there. I can't tolerate such people and I also know that they don't do it rationally - it's their personality that forces them to behave in this way and they can't stop doing all sorts of nasty little moves to subdue those in their field of control. If this doesn't work, they freak out - since they do it out of personal weakness and all sorts of paranoid fears. Psychology 101. Consequently I don't bear this guy any grudges - I just know I could never have tolerated this sort of thing for very long, and certainly could never trust or rely on him (which is bad - there should be good communication with the dispatcher).

So all in all I feel like I've just escaped from an accidental trap, self-created in some ways but also suggested by chance-circumstances. There was some bad-luck mixed in from the start - but also some great good-luck in other aspects (like the way I managed to avoid any bad weather - even the rain that was announced for tomorrow happened tonight instead, and the only previous rainy day was a holiday for us - that's pure luck here). The bad-luck was announced by the coincidence in time of the onset of another attack of bad-situation with upstairs neighbours and my finding this job on the very same day - as a result I had all the stress in the world at home and very little sleep when I began work. And instead of escape I found even more stress at the job. Thus it was a trap.

In the days leading to my finding this job I had a dream about it - how I would bike from one courier-company to another across downtown looking for work, from the fancier upper streets to the ones below, in the more run-down industrial area, and how I would get hired by a small seedy company with a tyrannical boss and all the difficulties I would have from his attitude etc etc etc. It was a pretty interesting dream - it described entrappement in a bad situation. And that's just what happened. I did go from fancier upper companies down to the lower area ones and I did get caught in a small-minded environment with too much over-head, too much personal pressure, and too few bikers to find any outlook. But the dream was not really a nightmare and this job was not a nightmare either.

And I am glad I am done with it - I am glad I had the experience just as is.


It's uncanny how much my mood improves when the upstairs neighbours are not home and I can have some peace and quiet in my flat. It's important to have a home that provides a sense of security - that's probably what it's about for me, as I am constantly aware of my solitude and being unprotected from the world outside. No sense of whatever community or companionship protects me - I only have the four walls of my imaginary flat and my mental perception of it to fight off whatever pressures (however the fact that I know I can find refuge with my parents is very important - the mere knowledge is enough to make me feel less helpless).

My home - my castle. That's the idea. I can only have a dim shadow of such a place, but I must have somewhere to hide in. Where do I go after high-stress work and all the shit I take during the day? I don't go to see friends and I don't go to a bar or whatever - I go back to my flat. And if it's mental hell there, then it's very much as if I had nowhere to go and I feel like I am nearly homeless.

This is why I value silence so much - it protects my mind.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

I have no idea how much money I made so far - but probably way too much to stay on welfare if I declare it (which I won't).

Last days.

Wednesday was grueling - I did twice as many calls as usual and was basically flat dead by the end of the day. Today I was even more dead and was super-slow as a result - which caused huge hysterics from the dispatcher. He threw a tantrum at me over the radio (scene: I am coasted at some sidewalk full of university students, in my radio a loud voice is yelling all sorts of insane things, I am listening peacefully as a fire-truck is passing by with deafening sirens, etc etc etc). This dispatch-insanity obviously ruined the day for me in terms of work (the rhythm was all wrong and bad, and I ran over some jay-walker because of this - but at low speed:), I had to clear this whole thing out by going down to the office and talking this shit out with the bunch of them.

But I was rewarded by things that happened outside of work. For instance I certainly liked the not-so-coincidental coincidence of finding myself alone in the elevator with the general-manager of the Canadiens hockey-team - the great Bob Gainey. I remember the guy from watching hockey in my teen years in the 80's - he's been the captain of the team most of his life. In any case, it was a pleasant surprise and we had a brief chat. A bit surreal on the whole - it's always awkward to meet famous people because you feel like you know more about them than you ought to, while they know nothing of you - so you're at some sort of unfair advantage in terms of personal mystery. In any case I tried to be as polite and unintrusive as possible: I was happy to see the guy and showed as much, but I didn't attempt to make too much of this meeting. A brief chit-chat and off I went to my delivery duties.

Another pleasant experience was finally finding a moment of peace and sitting down at some terrasse in the hot spring sun with a cup of coffee (very good and very cheap - a rare and lucky combination these days).

Either way, I definitely like being a messenger. But not 5 days a week and not with a neurotic dispatcher. I will have to see if it's possible to find a good work environment or if it's always stressed-out and screwed-up by nature. So far 99% of my problems came from inside the main-office rather than from traffic on the street or clients. It's unpleasant to work in a place where all the problems come from inside and as if behind one's back. By the way, I could care less about nasty clients - they should worry what might happen to their packages if they try to act up - ho ho ho :)

Another advantage of working at this job - it gets me out of my isolation and provides an opportunity to mix in with the world without giving in to it. Meeting people fleetingly is pleasant enough (it certainly reminded me of my bike-trip last summer). It's also pleasant to glide along in sping breeze and take in whatever passes by. Either way, it was never really about money - and never should be, really.


Another thing I definitely find pretty funny and slightly ridiculous about bike-couriers is their snobbishness. I can't believe these guys - they're so conceited! It's unclear to me what this attitude thing is based on but when I read some things on the internet coming from just such types I can see how they may imagine themselves as terribly special etc. I guess there is a bit of the "lone-cowboy" syndrom here. Either way, the romantic aspect is not what catches my fancy - it's the outdoors aspect and biking for me. I don't like those office-towers, those secretaries, those envelops - it's all bullshit. I like seeing people though and I like the riding. But I don't think I have the natural energy to be a high-performance bike-courier (those guys and gals do push-pedal a lot) and getting in top-shape can hardly become a priority for me. In fact, I just love seeing those older homeless-type guys doing their courier bit - there's something wonderful about them, a resilience that is fully devoid of arrogance of the young "marginal" athletes out there. That's more in my line - even though I certainly don't look anything like that.

My motto: destitution and independence. (in heraldics this would read as "destitutio et libertas":)


I am already sorry I'll be out of this job next week. I'll start looking for another opportunity soon I think. Although I should start looking for another appartment first? Indeed...

Monday, March 28, 2005

Also, it's official - I've got chronic bronchitis. Whenever I leave the window open at night or whatever, I wake up with some sort of unexplained cough and chest-congestion. The one unmistakable sign of the inflammation of the airways is that I can't yawn :-/

I mean, if I let myself yawn my upper-airways get all irritated and I get a rush of blood towards the head that practically gets me to faint. So I avoid yawning.

And yet I am doing all this biking... It's like two separate things: yawning and breathing. But something is definitely fucked up. I think cat's hair everywhere and all the dust in my flat must be serving as an irritant, quite aside from smoking that is now gone for good.

Yesterday, while looking for some clothes to wear in rainy weather, I found a pack of cigarettes in the pocket of an old jacket - with one very dry cigarette inside. I smoked half of it yesterday and the other half today - with no good result. Either the nicotine got all dried out from it, or my brain got misadapted from nicotine-intake, but there was no pleasant (nasty!) heavy-feeling in the head or whatever effect at all.

So much for smoking.

I've been feeling like I want to cry all the time for the last few weeks. It's a sort of slow nervous-breakdown/burn-out that I am having, I think - not the kind when everything gets flushed and you get to cry uncontrollably. But it's like a preliminary stage for just such a state: "on the verge of collapse".


While in downtown the other day I visited the place where I tried to buy cyanide last spring. I can still buy it there if I really want to - it's available.

Boot-camp stuff.

After two weeks of full-time biking/running-around - I decided it was no use trying to fool myself. The fact is - I don't want to take so much shit for so little cash. The shit comes from the main dispatcher who is a control freak and thinks I am too slow so he tries to make me go faster by loading me with long-distance calls. In any case, I got so tired after a full week of this nightmarish marathon, that I decided not to go to work today - because it rains and I have no equipment to keep myself dry.

Actually, I tried my best: I put on whatever clothes seemed convenient for rainy weather and set out for work but it immediately proved inadequate - I got all wet and cold after 10 min of riding, and this made me so uncomfortable I nearly got into an accident. So I turned back, went home, and called at work to tell them I am not coming in today. They were cool about it, saying that it's kinda quiet today. I also told them that I decided I didn't want to work full-time at this job - so the understanding is that I will work three days this week and this should give them the time to find somebody to replace me. Basically, I'll be pretty much done with this company by next week when I get my pay.

Basically I feel like I've been through a boot-camp in those two weeks. I was dead-tired every evening and on weekends, falling asleep around 8pm from sheer exhaustion - no kidding. My knees and feet hurt so bad I thought I was never going to walk again. Basically, every time the dispatcher tried to push me over my limits, I'd get too tired in the evening to recuperate and the next day I was without gas altogether. So the natural conclusion from all this is that if I want to continue doing messenging, I should not bike more than 3 days per week and get a proper rest to be in good shape for every 3-day marathon.
But this company only wants full-time bikers - so I guess they will have to disappear from my life.


On top of which I am being tortured and martyrized by a violent and desperate desire to move out from this appartment - because there's some sort of house-devil here that obviously wants my death - or something very similar to that description. It's a fucking House of Usher at this point. What tortures me really is that I feel so totally powerless to find any other place in this goddam town I might want to live in. This is because my financial resources are terribly limited and the kind of appartments that are currently available in my price-range are nothing but awful stinking holes, many times worse than the the flat I currently occupy. The very thought of it makes me go up the wall quite literally - it's a sort of unending humiliation. My vision of the situation is so hopeless and repugnant, that I get to cry and rave just from the thought of it.

Basically it's the typical western torture-by-powerlessness - a sort of prison-like situation created by certain social-conditions.

This, by the way, only serves to amplify my general perception of unredeemed solitude and personal powerlessness from which I have no hope of ever breaking out. The image that comes to mind is of a small animal caught in a bag, terrorized and pushing endlessly inside without any chance of escape. Normally this should end with the bag being lowered into a depth of water so that the animal might drown.



I think I took this biker job as a way of trying to improve my personal status in my own eyes. So it was just a blind attempt at acquiring some sense of power and capability. But instead it turned out to be yet another grueling run through a thorny row - I don't really need the money that comes with it, it wasn't for money that I got into this in the first place.

Zodiac sign for this period: Desperation.


The mental depression I am experiencing is so physical I don't know if it's caused by my situation or just by something being wrong with me body - maybe quitting smoking left too much of a void. Because it wasn't just smoking that I quit, I quit a way of thinking/acting too, I broke some appeasing habits and false-hopes/illusions/mannierisms by letting go of smoking AND internet at the same time.

I broke something, some mould i've been in - the edges are jagged and cutting.

What I can say is that I've been suffering unremittingly for the last month and a half and all my violent gestures and actions are simply a way of trying to shake off this suffering - to run away, to turn away, to get out of this deadly hole I am in.


This is why people are on drugs all over the place - because how else would you relieve such a state of desperation?

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