Imagine a job where you get to be outside all day enjoying nature without supervision, meeting attractive receptionists, and getting exercise while performing your favorite hobby. You don’t have to imagine long, because as the title of this post gave away, a bicycle courier gets all these benefits.
A bicycle courier is a cyclist that rides around the CBD(Central Business District) of a city picking up packages and letters from one business and getting them to another business withing a short time frame. There are only three requirements for the job. First is a strong body. Riding a bicycle up and down hills for over eight hours a day is not as easy as say, brain surgery. Second is excellent map skill memory for it takes too long to use a GPS. All addresses must be memorized, as well as the entrances and delivery point of each business. Third might be most important of all. A love of all weather types for there are no days off. Blistering heat or typhoon are the same in the eyes of a bicycle courier.
I was lucky enough to be able to perform this job, if I can really call it a job since it felt more like getting paid for my hobby, for six months in that most beautiful of places, Auckland. The experience will be imprinted in a special part of my mind until I am no longer part of this planet(I’m hoping to become an astronaut, not die).
Auckland, as some people will know, is built into the hills. I do not mean it is built in a flat area surrounded by hills, it is actually built into hills. To go from the Harbour up the main street(Queen Street) to the motorway is probably the same elevation change as climbing Mt. Everest. I would ride up and down and around this area dozens of times a day. I remember one small side street that was so steep I could not ride my bike up it. I would either have to push my bike up or choose another way around. God I miss Auckland.
Since New Zealand decided to drive on the wrong side of the road(Damn you British), I had a bit of trouble adapting. Bicycle couriers are aggressive by nature on the roads as time is money, and I had multiple close calls with cars when I first started out by crossing multiple lanes of traffic. Nothing gets your heart racing or feet pumping like turning into an oncoming dump truck. I believe this actually made me a better, or at least faster, courier. Fear is a wonderful thing.
The weather is my favorite memory of the whole experience. I have never been shy of weather. Here is a little known fact. Water rarely melts people and dries fairly quickly, so it is ok to get stuck in the rain. It rains quite a bit in Auckland so most days were a little wet, but that was just fine as it cooled me off. What I wasn’t prepared for was a typhoon. It might just have been a serious storm but in my mind it was a typhoon so please humor me. The day proceeded as normal except with a few meters of water in the streets. I had to use a snorkel to get from place to place. It was amazing. A seperate day I hit a batch of wet pavement and slid a good distance. No damage was done except to my pride but people must have loved seeing a bicycle courier fall down, especially drivers.
The receptionists at the businesses were also a perk of the job, or would of been if I hadn’t had a girlfriend at the time. Oh well, at least it was nice to flirt a little bit and enjoy the view.
All day was not spent running from place to place non-stop. Sometimes there was a lull, and this was a beautiful thing. If I was down by the harbour I would sit on a bench and soak up the sun while watching the ships sail by. It I was near the domain(central park), I would lock up my bike and walk around a little admiring the flowers and green spaces.
Even the packages themselves were sometimes fun. When I was new I once picked up a 3 meter long tube. It was supposed to be picked up by a car but there was an assignment mistake so I got it. I should have refused and asked for a car but I didn’t know better. So on that day people in Auckland got to witness an American wobbling through downtown on a bicycle with a 3 meter tube sticking out of his backpack.
I dreadfully miss this time of my life. Even though the pay was low and the benefits nil, it was the most fun I’ve had in my life. It beats the hell out of being a chef, a job I hated but deeply respect). It beats being a fireman, a paramedic, an engineer, and everything else I have done.
“I wanna live in the sauce.”