Tag Archives: bike messengers

Photo: Keri Wiginton

On paper, bike messengering represents the very worst of post-industrial employment.  The work is physically demanding and it pays very little.  For around $100 a day (sometimes more, often times less) messengers must careen through gridlocked traffic, breaking traffic laws, and risking their own safety in order to deliver the advertising proofs, architectural blueprints, and legal documents that circulate in the downtown cores of major cities.  Injuries are common; workers compensation and medical coverage are rare.

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Jeff’s piece is a very interesting post, and I’m particularly intrigued by two ideas. The first is that edgework and paid work can be integrated and accomplished in the same act. Typically we have seen edgework conceptualized as leisure, which implies a sequential relationship with paid work: spend all day at work becoming alienated and then pursue edgework to recapture an authentic sense of self. That bike messengering provides a way to seek authenticity through paid work is a novel angle, and the question this raises for me is how does that happen? What is it about integrating edgework with paid work that allows for such a powerful experience of authenticity? Is this experience different from the “sequenced” version of edgework, where the self alternates between work (alienation) and leisure (authenticity)?

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