Bicycle Now!

(written November 28th, 2001)

I had my first day as a bike messenger today. I'm telling you, drop whatever you're doing one day a week and get outside and deliver packages. It's totally intense, exhilarating, exhausting, and bad-ass. It is an action-adventure, more than I could have ever imagined.

I woke up this morning at 7:30. Took a shower. Had some breakfast. Got on my bike and rode it to Downtown Boston. Gave them my driver's license, social security card and courier's license. They gave me a walkie-talkie, a bag, and some rubber bands to affix my license plate and license sash.

Then I met Wayne. Wayne is not a happy camper. He is a scarred, bearded old man who you'd expect to find sailing the seas with Sinbad. He isn't even snips and snails and puppy dog tails--more like piss and blood and lemon juice and vinegar. He's a man's man. He's even a man's man's man. Needless to say, he's not the kind of guy I usually hang out with. He's not the kind of guy I generally like. But he is the kind of guy I'm going to be talking to on the walkie talkie. He will be my only human contact, my sherpa, my cheerleader, my drill sargeant, my guide--all day long.

So Wayne gives me three packages (which I guess had come in from drivers) and sends me off to some square I've never heard of downtown. He gives me vague instructions on how to get there. I, of course, get lost. And then I really get lost. Eventually I find the place, feel like an idiot, pick up my package, and head to the Museum of Science. Nearby I find a road off of a road off of a road which isn't on my map. In fact, very few of the addresses I went to today were on my map. I used to think my map was pretty comprehensive. I guess not.

I drop off my first package. I call Wayne back. He expresses moderate disgust that it took me forty-five minutes to do a simple pick up and delivery. He gives me instructions to get to my next drop off. His instructions are fast, furious and broken up by radio hiss. Difficult to understand would be an understatement. I give up listening to them, deciding I'll find my own way there.

This I do, with only a few wrong turns that I quickly recover from. I get there in twenty minutes. And before Wayne can call me, I call him and tell him that I dropped off the package, and give him my itinerary to my next drop off, thus recouping a little bit of dignity. He gives me the go ahead. So I go, find the place, but spend five minutes looking for the door. Finally, I'm in, the package is delivered.

That was my morning.

It kept going all day. The sun was out, the day was beautiful, and I was being paid to bicycle. I was the deliverator in the opening of Snowcrash. I was a bike in a world of cars. I was navigating areas (the North End, South Boston, North Cambridge, Roxbury) I had only read about in books. I felt crazy. I felt exhausted. I felt good.

At the end of the day, Wayne tells me, "You did pretty well for a rookie, kid."

And I knew that I had done something today.

So I went home and promptly ate everything in sight.

You have got to try this.

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