I found your blog via YACF and have been working my way through all the old posts. There’s something I’d like to say about almost every entry, but I’ll restrict myself to three:
Why the jump from November 2008 to October 2009?
You comment on the implications of calling yourself “chick” and “messenger”. Way back in the early ’90s I worked for a couple of years as motorcycle courier (not in London). Or perhaps I was a dispatch rider, but certainly not a messenger. Interesting that cycle messengers are also known as couriers, but never as dispatch riders, and seem to prefer the term messenger. To me, dispatch rider sounds military, courier implies that you are accompanying something (or possibly someone!) of value, while messenger suggests “errand boy (or girl, of course)”. And vans – well, they just have drivers. How did these collocatins arise? As your writing is thoughtful and intelligent, I’d be interested to read your views.
Finally, working conditions. These seem to have become a lot tougher since I was on motorbikes. Back then, although the Xda had yet to be invented and even mobile phones were an expensive rarity, (and out in the sticks we didn’t even use radios – so many of our jobs were long distance that they would have been pointless), we also didn’t have to “rent” uniforms or bags. Several of us did have company motorbikes for which we paid a small rent, but the owner paid the MoT, road tax and repairs, leaving us responsible for just insurance (which was quite cheap back then) and fuel. Perhaps most importantly, we took about 75% of the price of each job.
A brief response, as I’m tired and in need of dinner:
1. I set this up shortly after I started couriering, but it took me a long time to get round to actually writing anything. I think this was probably because I was completely knackered for the first few months, and couldn’t string a sentence together after 7pm.
2. I think ‘messenger’ and ‘courier’ are pretty interchangeable, with the former being slightly more American. I think ‘messenger’ sounds a bit more romantic, and I like its other connotations (i.e. it has a more abstract sense than just ‘the girl who delivers your packages’), but I’m more often referred to as a ‘courier’, by myself and others. ‘Dispatch rider’ sounds slightly archaic to me (so we’d have to ask the old-timers), and I’ve a feeling it might be slightly derogatory – at least, Carl from Condor called me it once or twice before we made friends. (He’s a patronizing git till you get to know him. Actually, he remains a patronizing git once you’ve got to know him, but you start to view it more affectionately after a while.) And incidentally, it appears that to most members of the public ‘courier’ means ‘bloke on motorbike’ – they’re often rather surprised when a girl on a pushbike turns up.
[That's an off-top-of-head response. Ask again if I've missed anything, like the point...]
3. Working conditions – you lucky bastard. Every time someone tells me one of these ‘good old days’ stories, a little bit more of my self-respect dies.
…and please do comment on other entries, if you have things to say! Having conversations on this thing is one of my favourite forms of procrastination. :)
I wasn’t sure whether a reply to something you wrote a couple of years ago would even be noticed, let alone taken notice of. But if it will, then great! Could keep me busy…
As for the working conditions, don’t be too envious. Even back then we earned very little and the main attraction was being (to an extent) your own boss, getting out and about, and… the opportunity to be lazy now and again! It may have been different in London though.