For months now I’ve been hunting down a part-time job couriering here in Sydney, keen to keep my jobs of excel learning and accounting lingo, but the courier companies wanted a full timer or nothing.
Working in a chair was hard to get use to, I ran to and from work about 11 km’s a day a few times a week, or rode my bike the hard way deliberately to get the sense of satisfaction from being fit and able. I chased the wall of the gym to try and maintain a level of fitness, and I had to watch what I ate for the first time in years, the most depressing of all.
I gave into full time couriering, not begrudgingly, quietly joyful in the hope not to offend the current employer. I got my pre new job jitters and started my first day last week.
The company we work for requires, for reasons I can only point to lack of education, that we ride free wheel, 2 brakes, reflectors, bells, whistle and lights. So while they did their checks I was riding on Dan’s free wheel cog, a ratio that was way beyond my level. For the first two days I rode with a look of a sweaty, constipated, red faced fire demon. The controller does the usual run around to test your abilities for the first few days and seeing the day through, I was white and weak and unable to have evening chat.
On the third day I had changed back to my own ratio, the company not doing many checks that you are riding freewheel it is pretty safe to have your bike how you want it. I felt that sense of joy at last.
I love to ride with Dan, but as my only riding partner it has given me a bad case of the inadequacies. A light, fast, tall and powerful male who is a speed maniac and leaves me for dead may have stunted my London grown cycling confidence.
I had a week of blissful solo riding, finally no one to judge me, no one to be falling behind on, and no one to compare myself to.
I had a week of compliments, ‘nice scar’, ‘that was fast’, ‘nice bike’, ‘great to see a lady on the road’. From couriers, from my controller, from people on the street, from bike shops, from the business world. I felt like a strong, independent female again, not a receptionist, not a secretary, not a flowery female to which I have no aspiration to be, but for being something wilder. To get compliments when you feel most comfortable is when you really allow them in and appreciate that people can see your compatibility with what you are doing.
When using a lift with the people on the top floors of the office buildings, I never feel like the smelly elephant. They know who we are, they know how fun our job must be, they being the ones who race past you on their bikes in the mornings and evenings on their fresh legs, trying to get their heart-rate high enough to count it as a work out. I don’t have to dress my best, or try and keep my hair in the same shape as when I left home, not have my clothes pressed and fresh each morning and I get a feeling of such curiosity from them and I think a bit of jealousy.
Not all of course, obvious jokes about my sweat and smell to the giggles of the girl he is trying to impress don’t go without notice. But what a difference it makes to know you have earned it rather then it came from laziness, and after the next 20 years of starched collars and ironed pleats they will be begging to get out of the ugly atmosphere of the corporate office. No amount of new stationary and cup-a-soups could entice me to choose a path like they have.
I watch and read of other couriers going about the same business as me on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr, I see my day in their days, I see them working in the snow, I see them with their oversized packages, I see them with the group of friends and courier family around them. No matter where you are, what city you do it in or the policies your company has, couriering has the same core worldwide.
Singapore Couriers – oldmechanic.tumblr.com
Chicago Couriers – texasblows.tumblr.com
So couriering makes me happy, it makes me motivated, it inspires me and brings my confidence up to dangerous heights. The only thing couriering doesn’t give me is an escape from judgements. The couriers I have talked to on the topic also receive criticism from family, friends and often from themselves.
Belle, who is the only other courier girl in Sydney, said when asked if she had anyone that questions her future that she had “friends that have different values to me” tell her their concerns and their concern is ‘very ineffective’ in provoking her to do something about it. I would love to know their version of what is appropriate.
Harry on the other hand has a well paid job at General Pants Co. that has prospects, chance of raises and plenty of perks, but he openly dislikes his job and would love to jump ship to courier, he also doesn’t escape criticism about his future.
I also asked what their the view of their future looks like while they are couriering to which Aaron said “I don’t have the commitment to do film right now so why not do something else that I am really happy doing until I get mature enough to the proper job.”
In all definitions, couriering is a ‘proper job’ and I know people who have done it for 30 or more years. If you were a struggling artist, or writer or poet you would not have a ‘proper job’ but would people criticise you for doing what you loved? Like Aaron I dont consider it to be my ‘proper job’ but for some it is.
Another said “I am happier about my future now that I’m couriering than I had been while at any other job, probably because it’s an enjoyable job I wasn’t worrying about the future, couriering makes me feel like I can make more drastic choices and be fine.”
I haven’t asked the question to myself but I feel that answer could represent my own, and it gives a great example of the confidence that couriering gives.
And when I asked the group what they would be doing if they weren’t couriering this I got plenty of answers and most of them showed interest in music and film and writing and other creative methods that are already employed as part time hobbies.
Darcy, who’s main hobby/interest is music plays in a band, “I love performing. That and the film industry, I highly enjoy putting together a film for any purpose.” or Belle who’d be doing “probably enviro stuff, planting tree’s or something”. Beautifully simplistic and free.
Couriers are a special type of people. They aren’t interested in the usual hierarchy but it is not from lack of passion or ambition and I wonder who they would be, what they would be if they never couriered at all?
So that was my first week couriering in Sydney and that happy week ended with a trip to the emergency room on Friday afternoon, straight from my last drop off in Elizabeth Bay. The unknown ugly, ever growing sist on my hand had been made very angry by the weeks work and I couldn’t ignore it. Tests taken, swabs swabbed and then 2 days later having the thing cut out of my hand has now put my couriering on the bench again.
It turned out to be a Pyogenic Granuloma, a kind of skin tumor.
So I am back working in a chair again. It is a little cruel, and I am sad. I just can’t say much more about it than that but I have enough projects to keep me busy.