A company that delivers Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com boxes as well as paychecks was hiring “10 new foot messengers” for its Manhattan region last month. Normally, I would not lower myself to work in such a menial trade, but unemployment benefits had run dry, as had my stash of booze and cigarettes, so I went to an open casting call and was offered a job that pays minimum wage, plus a commission for each box delivered.
Huge, baggy-eyed, water-blisters formed on the heels of both my feet following a rain storm on day three of the new job. I came home, burned a sewing needle over a gas flame on my stove, and popped the blisters like a dentist conducting a root-canal on the sole of one’s feet.
It seems that most individuals who order books and other items on-line have the materials delivered to their jobs on high floors of the various skyscrapers scattered about town.
Many of the buildings along Park, 5th and Madison Avenues require that foot-messengers use what are called freight-entrances when delivering such boxes. The men who work in these well-hidden ‘message centers’ have attitudes that are far more vile than even the snootiest rich people who frequent and own these parts of town. Lesbians who work at freight entrances are even worse than the men without teeth!
It is not easy being one of the few clean-cut Caucasians who deliver for Amazon. I am often offered a look of surprise when I whisk into offices with boxes balancing on one hand and a pair of reading glassing hanging off my nose like a college professor—“I have a delivery for Russell Simmons LLC,” I said early one morning last month while rushing into the hip-hop record producer’s office with a delivery of paychecks for his employees.
I have already fallen in love with several of the messengers who I work with; one is a California dude with long-hair pulled into a pony tail, and tattoos upon his knuckles. I know he is from LA because a prison style tattoo marks his left ring finger. I am so star struck by him, that I have yet to gain the courage to say a word to him.
When not in the warehouse, I see the streets of New York like I have never witnessed before. I carry a little black book with empty pages in my backpack with the paychecks that I deliver. I have started to write down a few of the funny one-liners I hear along my route, such as this statement made by a white lady to her little girl–
“That’s it!” she shouted, “If you don’t stop, I’m sending you home to California in one of those boxes!” The little girl looked at me in horror.
“This is the best job I ever had,” I said to a part-time crack user who works for the company and for some reason has found it necessary to befriend me in the warehouse.
I explained to the user who actually bragged about his habit–“This job sure beats my last job where I sat behind a computer all day and tried to write a book while on company time. At least here, I am receiving inspiration for my next project, and who knows, one day, I may deliver a story about you to some snooty rich, white person who works in a skyscraper and has nothing to do all day but browse Amazon for a good book about the streets of New York and those who secretly rule them.”
The crack head just smiled as he told me not to get my hopes up too high, “Besides,” he said, “there’s no room for growth here.”
(More to follow…)