Watching a couple couriers smoke meth at the pub the other night I started thinking about how my view of bike couriers has changed over time.
I remember noticing a courier stretched out on a bench in Berkley Square, his bike beside him in the grass, feet up reading a newspaper. He looked like a typical courier but I remember thinking he looked particularly content. He was in contrast to everyone around him, those uptight office workers of Mayfair with their embarrassing superiority complexes and class climbing aspirations. He was confident, cool and looked like he was doing exactly what he wanted. I was eating lunch on my break working for a property company up the street, spending almost all my day sending emails to people in the same building. I saw this guy use his radio, get on his bike and fit seamlessly into moving traffic without at all giving the impression that he was hurrying. He was just smooth and fast. What a badass. What a fucking badass way to spend the day.
Not long after seeing that guy I quit my office job and started myself. I remember my body getting used to working, falling asleep at 8 or 9 after an enormous meal and realizing that so many couriers were drunk every night, hardly slept and still turned up for work for a day of winter rain. I respected those guys because I knew it wasn’t easy but they weren’t going to just lay in bed while the guys they were out with the night before worked all day. I didn’t mind the hollering messed-up people back then. They seemed more funny than sad but also indispensable, wouldn’t those people be missed if everyone was sitting around peacefully, all being quietly normal? But then over the months into years I started losing respect for those guys getting messed up and still showing up for work. It wasn’t that they could get wrecked and still do it, they had to get wrecked.
I have met some golden hearted people doing couriering. So many funny, sharp witted, creative and kind people who keep surprising me with what they have done before this or what is coming up in their lives, who’d help anyone anyway they could. People who sit and listen to a new guy whinge when they’ve heard it a hundred times or help them with a puncture even though they have jobs to deliver. Almost all of them here in Sydney are like that. Funny, smart, kind, easy, awesome people.
But it’s gotten frustratingly old to see the stumbling, screaming, wasters and seeing other people encouraging it and seeing people destroying themselves. You don’t get to be an douche because of what job you do. It doesn’t matter if you’re a cop, a bouncer, or bike messenger. The job doesn’t shield you from being an idiot.