11 Things You Only Know If You’re A Bike Messenger

Love the city. Love the danger. Hate all people.
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1. No matter the weather–rain, humidity, snow–that package better be on time.

Your excuses fall on deaf ears. Your clients need their packages immediately–and are blind to the terror of first-snow city streets and the rain dripping from your nose. It doesn’t matter what you’ve been through. They don’t care.

2. If you don’t meet your deadline, you won’t get paid.

If you let the wind and snow push you back; if you’re meant to travel the city length in 15 minutes flat and can’t make it–not in this lifetime, another bike messenger will probably take the parcel tomorrow. They’ll receive the payment you were counting on.

3. The service entrance you’re always looking for is usually camouflaged, and you have to be a superhuman to find it.

As a bicycle messenger, you’re often not allowed to have contact with your recipient–or even their secretary. Somewhere, hidden from the public, perhaps tucked behind a dumpster or lost in another dimension, is the service entrance. And if you’re new: You need a lifetime to find it.

4. Your bike is top-notch–which isn’t cheap (plus almost-constant repairs).

Most bike messengers drop around $1,000 on their bicycle–and nearly that much each year in repairs. And if you can’t fix your own bicycle: You’re in the wrong business.

5. You’re probably not insured.

Almost all bike messengers zig-zag through city streets without benefits. A crash is devastating–putting you out of a job and in serious debt.

6. Whatever you’re delivering, that type-A corporate dude needed it five minutes ago.

Anything sent via bicycle messenger is immediate–flying from one stressed person to the next. And you know: These corporate people are not always pleasant. Rather, they’re NEVER pleasant.

7. Your co-messengers are far more like your brothers and sisters–like your co-patriots in war.

It’s just you, your co-messengers, and the city before you. You commiserate together over beers after work, and you race each other through the city streets. Nobody else in the world understands you.

8. You can actually eat whatever you want without gaining weight.

You’re constantly moving, weaving, your heart rate escalating–and you eat donuts, city street food, and after-work beers like they’re going out of style. Kudos on that toned body. You deserve it.

9. You’re always two seconds from a car nearly hitting you, a door opening in front of you, or a pedestrian skirting out before you.

And best of all: You’re uninsured. But your voice is loud and explosive, and your insults are some of the most creative in the world.

10. You only do it if you love it, because the money is definitely not worth it these days.

Back in the ’90s, bike messengers made maybe $800 a week–but times are changing. Good bike messengers only make about $300-$400 a week now, and the danger and cut-throat atmosphere isn’t worth it for some.

11. There’s always a new kid who is willing to do your job for cheap.

Read: That $800-a-week income dropped because the younger, fitter bicycle messenger swooped in. It’s a romantic title, the bicycle messenger. And many are eager to steal it.

Bicycle messengers: SHARE if you agree–and thanks for all you do. Tell us in the comments, what else do love or hate about your job?