Stacy, age 24, used to relish the personal exchanges she had with the secretaries and receptionists she made deliveries to. 9/11 changed all that.
“Before 9/11, we would deliver to offices; you’d go to someone’s secretary instead of going to a mailroom. It made me love my job, because I didn’t want to be sitting in their position, and a lot of time they’d make small talk, like, “If I could have another job, I’d be a messenger… you’re so lucky to be on your bike all day.” And, yeah, it’s worth it, to be in rush hour traffic when you’re flying through cars with men in their suits sitting in their BMWs; it’s just really liberating.
“Sept. 11th really made us impersonal. I mean, we no longer are people to the people in the offices. We’re just these things they call and order that deliver their packages, and it’s no longer a face-to-face job. We only see people in mailrooms now, who are in the same types of jobs we are. We’re not seeing people who are making $90,000 a year anymore. We’re not allowed up in the buildings. We’re not allowed in elevators — almost all the places here make you take freight elevators, which, to me, is a little demeaning. What makes me less of a person that I can’t ride in the regular elevator? It used to be a much more personal job, there was a lot more contact with the actual people you were making deliveries for, it felt good to have done a good job for someone.
“One of my favorite experiences, ever, as a messenger was, it was summertime and it was really hot outside, and it started pouring rain. And when that happens, you’ve just got to keep working; I mean, office people don’t care if it’s raining outside. I was in the middle of Times Square, and the rain was so hard that everybody had to pull off the street. And I was trying to ride my bike, but the rain was so hard, I couldn’t see 2 feet in front of me. So I stopped, in the middle of 42nd Street, and there was not a soul on the road, and it was just pouring rain. It was beautiful. And the sun was kind of coming through the clouds, so it was putting this amazing light on everything. And it lasted about 2 minutes, and then it was gone, and people started moving around again.”
— Zina Saunders, Overlooked New York