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started messengering this week... some thoughts

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started messengering this week... some thoughts

Old 05-12-05, 09:14 AM
  #1  
bikiola
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started messengering this week... some thoughts

hello fellow bikers
so i started messengering this week. i wanted to share some thoughts, and perhaps get your responses... some of this will be cheesy but here goes:

a) the job is tough. really tough. i commuted daily from brooklyn to manhattan AND would go up to columbia occasionally and often to queens. i'm not scared of city traffic and i'm in good shape. that said, the job is still extremely difficult, and just a few days has forever changed my opinion on the actual, very real differences between "normal" city biking, that is, when you don't have the pressure of time and people, and messengering. so when you see those messengers around you, even on their crappy bikes and they don't look like cool "red web" messenger type people, these are folks to be respected.

b) i've never appreciated clothing meant for biking as much. that is, i still don't think a 200 jacket is worth it, but i've definitely started appreciating the little things on my bailey bag and such that i never thought of before. some stuff, like a tshirt, is of course indispensable. but there is actually a need for breathable stuff, whereas i never cared before. also, padding + brooks saddle: my butt feels amazing, even after 6 hours on the bike.

c) there is a class issue at stake here; half the time is spent dealing with real pieces of sh11t. that is, in the office buildings downtown and in the midtown offices, where people ask you to wait outside while some fat dude brings down a corporate contract you are delivering to other fat dudes in other shiny white corporate offices around the city, you realize that there is definitely such a class difference in new york; there is some short of shell economy where there are nice restaurants and woody allen's new york, but there is a dedicated underclass of extremely hard working immigrants, students, and in general other people who staff the city -- the city is on their backs. the more and more i do this, the more relieved i am to return to brooklyn at the end of the day, where the population is diverse, the people are nice, and life goes at a much more reasonable pace.

d) i HATE midtown traffic. i HATE midtown traffic. i HATE midtown traffic.

e) i see the need for better designed cities. why, for instance, is 979 park avenue at 84th st and 979 6th ave at 35th? why does w 10th intersect with w4th in the village? this and other wonderful things (although i know the causes are abstractly from the times at which they were built, etc) will always make me wonder.

f) can one actually make money on this? i realize its my first week, but i busted my ass and did only 6 runs in 3 hrs. i know this isn't good, but this is because you wait for packages, go from wall street > upper east side, and etc.

anyway, suggestions, comments, notes? thanks for being my support group.!
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Old 05-12-05, 09:48 AM
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an interesting read! keep posting your thoughts on your new job, i'd like to read them!


also keep your chin up! don't be discouraged-- any new job worth doing will be difficult in the beginning. just remember that you're getting paid to do what you love, which is more than a lot of people can say for themselves.

good luck and stay safe out there.


Originally Posted by bikiola

c) there is a class issue at stake here; half the time is spent dealing with real pieces of sh11t. that is, in the office buildings downtown and in the midtown offices, where people ask you to wait outside while some fat dude brings down a corporate contract you are delivering to other fat dudes in other shiny white corporate offices around the city, you realize that there is definitely such a class difference in new york; there is some short of shell economy where there are nice restaurants and woody allen's new york, but there is a dedicated underclass of extremely hard working immigrants, students, and in general other people who staff the city -- the city is on their backs. the more and more i do this, the more relieved i am to return to brooklyn at the end of the day, where the population is diverse, the people are nice, and life goes at a much more reasonable pace.
well said.
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Old 05-12-05, 09:52 AM
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Try to work on as many hot receptionists as possible. Bored ladies love nothing more than a strong young sweaty urban warrior marching confidently up to them with a nice big package. Even thought its not for them it might as well be
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Old 05-12-05, 09:59 AM
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I've often told people who are curious about messengering: "It's not worth it. It's hard, very hard. To make any decent amount of money, you have to be good, really good - amazing."

6 runs in 3 hours is a small amount but approrpiate for a new messenger. The senior messengers, the one's who have worked this for years get 6 - 20 drops in one run. They pick up a few at a time since their dispatcher loves them and they get to drop off packages one by one in one fell swoop. Repeat.

I don't mean to be discouraging but if you think you can live decently off of messengering you have to be really good - you have to have amazing skills. Messengers have skills that make my jaw drop - the messengers I know and have lived with have a steel will and a fearless attitude.

Sorry - this is more of a rant on folks who are fairweather messengers or want to try it out just to say they were. Don't. If there's a safer, better job that pays the same or more, take it.

That said - stay safe, look forward to more stories.

Edited.
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Old 05-12-05, 09:59 AM
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Good insight. Good luck on the job and be careful. I don't know how far each of your deliveries were but 6 in 3 hrs doesn't seem bad, especially if it's your first week.
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Old 05-12-05, 12:09 PM
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Sounds like you're doing ok. Stay safe, remember that while speed is importantish if you can't get it there in the time allotted it is your dispatchers fault, not yours, so don't break your bones.
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Old 05-12-05, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Shiznaz
Try to work on as many hot receptionists as possible. Bored ladies love nothing more than a strong young sweaty urban warrior marching confidently up to them with a nice big package. Even thought its not for them it might as well be

oh damn.
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Old 05-12-05, 12:37 PM
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why, for instance, is 979 park avenue at 84th st and 979 6th ave at 35th?


That really ****ed me up on my first day.
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Old 05-12-05, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by absntr
I've often told people who are curious about messengering: "It's not worth it. It's hard, very hard. To make any decent amount of money, you have to be good, really good - amazing."

6 runs in 3 hours is a small amount but approrpiate for a new messenger. The senior messengers, the one's who have worked this for years get 6 - 20 drops in one run. They pick up a few at a time since their dispatcher loves them and they get to drop off packages one by one in one fell swoop. Repeat.

I don't mean to be discouraging but if you think you can live decently off of messengering you have to be really good - you have to have amazing skills. Messengers have skills that make my jaw drop - the messengers I know and have lived with have a steel will and a fearless attitude.

Sorry - this is more of a rant on folks who are fairweather messengers or want to try it out just to say they were. Don't. If there's a safer, better job that pays the same or more, take it.

That said - stay safe, look forward to more stories.

Edited.
Those guys all had their first day, week and month. No one starts out as a pro. Ride hard and i'm sure things will get better.
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Old 05-12-05, 01:29 PM
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Please keep us updated. About the only interesting thing I've read on this board all week, my posts included.
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Old 05-12-05, 01:30 PM
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Quit now. It is a dangerous dead end job that doesn't pay well. I did it for five years. I should know. I won three DC messenger alleycats and never made more than 20k a year on the bike, although my work ethic isn't as good as some.

If you insist on doing it, and your dispatcher smokes out, hook him up.

Don't spend a lot of money hot-rodding out your bike, its not all about how fast you can go, it is about putting in the hours and being consistent.

Don't spend all your money on beer and drugs. Don't hang out with other messengers who do.

Don't date other messengers x-girlfriends.

Get > 8 hours sleep every single night and maintain your bike.

Don't be without a pen.

If a motorist or pedistrian does something stupid, get mad about it later, you don't have time to let people pick fights with you - and besides you don't get paid to do that, you get paid to pick and drop. Say to yourself, I am not a prize fighter.

If you want a job that is an adventure, join the army. Messengering is just a job. Don't get a romantic about it.

Your comments about class are accurate. If you want to move up, get a better job.

That said, you're only in your 20s once, if your young and want to 'waste' your youth (god knows I insisted on it) there are worse things than messing, but man the work has thinned out, and the steady 100 dollar days are pretty much gone, I think.

Bring a paperback.
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Old 05-12-05, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by 48x16
why, for instance, is 979 park avenue at 84th st and 979 6th ave at 35th?


That really ****ed me up on my first day.
-because they're on different blocks?
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Old 05-12-05, 01:54 PM
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I disagree with some things stated from flythebike.You can do it but think what you want to do long term.

1. The job as stated many times here by me it is not for everybody. It is like the Marine For the Few and The Proud.

2. See how the summer goes but expect a hard winter with snow or not snow.

3. save money for rent and food during the slow period of the seasons (fall and winter)

4. know how to fix your bike and yourself (Medical)

5. be scared of traffic it helps you ride safer.

6. be safe and hope to see you out there.

Alot of pros are willing to help you and get situated.


S/F<
CEYA!
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Old 05-12-05, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by fixedfiend
-because they're on different blocks?

also because when the changed 4th ave to park ave and park ave south they changed the number system.


6 runs in 3 hrs not bad..if you can do 18 per day just pace yourself . start early like 700 and get truck runs they help also.
S/F,
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Old 05-12-05, 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Shiznaz
Try to work on as many hot receptionists as possible. Bored ladies love nothing more than a strong young sweaty urban warrior marching confidently up to them with a nice big package. Even thought its not for them it might as well be
heh-heh-heh... as a receptionist, i have to say that nothing makes us (other receptionists i know) happier than seeing sexy sexy couriers coming into the office.
objectifying? i suppose.
i always offer some water and a bathroom as a gesture of respect and... heh...admiration.
boo-ya!
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Old 05-12-05, 04:17 PM
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Hey Dude! Hang in there. Sounds like a decent overall week for ya. Stay safe, and don't sweat the low amount of drops. Remember that you're new, so you aren't getting great dispatches either, which is simply because you're new...

I'm not saynig you'll be rolling in dough any time soon, but it WILL get better for ya!
Be careful out there!!
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Old 05-12-05, 05:16 PM
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Originally Posted by flythebike
Bring a paperback.
one thing no ones should ever be without while messin these days.
Recommendations:
Metamorphosis (Kafka)
The Old Man and the Sea (Hemingway)
Night (Wiesel)
The Pearl (Steinbeck)
The Sea and Poison (Endo)
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Old 05-12-05, 06:56 PM
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Man, hearing your problems and experiences, I'm so glad I live in Hawaii. I'm the ultimate fair weather messenger. I make about 60 bucks most days, and it's in Hawaii where the worst I get is too tired to go surfing after work. 6 runs is pitiful here, even if they're all the way across town. What do you make for a run at your place?
But then again, you live and work in NYC, Mecca of the Courier.
Thanks for the insights.
And about the work thinning out: I'm just waiting for peak oil. It's ten years away, but just wait. All those foot messengers waiting for vans will be on bikes and it will be a hayday again until some one figures out how to live without oil.
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Old 05-12-05, 07:06 PM
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...or how to send email with an attachment.
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Old 05-12-05, 07:13 PM
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Originally Posted by kathrot
heh-heh-heh... as a receptionist, i have to say that nothing makes us (other receptionists i know) happier than seeing sexy sexy couriers coming into the office.
objectifying? i suppose.
i always offer some water and a bathroom as a gesture of respect and... heh...admiration.
boo-ya!
you work downtown? what office?
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Old 05-12-05, 07:27 PM
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I have nothing intelligent to say, no advice. That said:


Originally Posted by [165]
Recommendations:
Metamorphosis (Kafka)
Hahaha HAHAhahaaa!!!! Kafka's my kind of people! (enter conceit here)


Biki- thanks for the honest 'insider' view. It might be sort of embarassing to ask someone what it's ACTUALLY like to be a messenger, so it's nice to have someone already just offer the info.
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Old 05-12-05, 07:53 PM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by flythebike
That said, you're only in your 20s once, if your young and want to 'waste' your youth (god knows I insisted on it) there are worse things than messing, but man the work has thinned out, and the steady 100 dollar days are pretty much gone, I think.
You think wrong!

Mess'ing is a very rewarding job. You work harder = you make more money. It's a very nice feeling. I busted my ass for 3 months or so at the bottom 'o the barrel company, with a terrible dispatcher and made very little money. Then I went and who-red myself out, and found a company that I could set my terms with. My days are all steady $100 days, as I get a guarantee of $100 a day. There's only been a few days total that I didn't break that guarantee. Bust your ass, be nice to your dispatcher (That means you NEVER complain. I don't care how f'in big the package is, or how far you have to go; If it's really unreasonable, try to get it pushed up to a higher oversize/distance rate, but don't complain.), and have fun!

My rec's for the paperback; The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle - Haruki Murakumi. 700 pages or so, but still light enough that you can put it down a lot. This is why Kafka can't work for me when I'm working. Everytime I put the book down to get on the radio or whatever, I have to start the page over.
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Old 05-12-05, 08:18 PM
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I don't really know why there is such an aura of mystery around couriers... It's a job. With that said it is definitely my favorite job, even the coldest wettest days are better for me than being inside. Being a messenger is what you make of it, just don't get too cool to say hi to the rest of the world.
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Old 05-12-05, 11:23 PM
  #24  
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Cool. Be safe, stay alert, listen to your body and keep living teh dream. You can't live the dream without strecthing, so do that to.

By being a messenger you probably don't have to go to meetings and have some high up peice of managment turn and point to you and say real loud and angry, "Maybe you're not a good safety committee member." All to have him come around later and be like, " Oh wait, you're right. All this **** is ****ed up."

And what the hell is up with the two dudes who were all kissin' his ass at the end of the meeting?
"Well, I think you're doing a good job."
"Oh oh, me too."

What the h3ll is that all about? Two guys who are Teamster saying this to a Tie. Ugh.
Oh well. I got support and props from a couple of fellow loaders. That was cool.

Urgh.
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Old 05-12-05, 11:25 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by [165]
one thing no ones should ever be without while messin these days.
Recommendations:
Metamorphosis (Kafka)
The Old Man and the Sea (Hemingway)
Night (Wiesel)
The Pearl (Steinbeck)
The Sea and Poison (Endo)
No ones education is complete with out Go Rin No Sho : A Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi. Just think of life as a sword dual (I expect that those who have not read or understood the book will say I'm full of it, but it's not all about agression).
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