7AM, the alarm rings. One look out the window and I really do not want to get up. There is a driving rain outside and the temperature is hovering around 40 degrees. ‘This will be a tough day’ I think ‘but I got to go – if I don’t show up in bad weather, they won’t have me when the sun shines’.
So I hastily eat my cereal and step into my work clothes: jeans, flannel shirt, nylon jacket, rubber boots, and the final layer of protection a yellow rubber rain suit, pants and jacket.
I sling the waterproof messenger bag over my shoulder, roll my bike onto the street and awkwardly climb into the saddle. The twenty-minute ride towards Manhattan will take at least 30 minutes today, and that driving rain hits me right in the face.
‘Watch out’ I want to scream, but in this weather the truck drivers do not see very well, and even if they did, they would not care. So, I take the hit of water the big truck wheel has dug out of a massive puddle by the edge of the road.
Finally, I arrive at the office – dripping wet. Marvin is glad to see me. He knows that he can rely on me. “I am getting a route together for you, but you have time for a smoke” he says. Damn it, the cigarettes got wet – I ask Marvin for a smoke.
Great route – 10 packages, in this weather that will take me all morning. All packages, wrapped in plastic and stowed in the bag I venture out into the crazy Manhattan traffic.
On a day like today one has to be especially careful. The brakes do not work in the rain, so racing down in the center lane of the avenues is out of the question. It is more of a slow crawl on the edge of the street, interrupted every other block by traffic turning into the cross street,
First stop the flatiron building. I hate that building, it has only one very slow elevator to serve altogether 22 floors. But I figured out how to beat the system. My delivery is to the 15th floor. After waiting three minutes for the elevator I am lucky to be the only passenger. I press both 15 and 22, press the down button on the outside of the 15th floor, race to the office, drop off the package, get a signature, and race back. When I get to the elevator, it stops there for me as if hailed by a magic wand.
Next stop 42nd Street. I am dripping wet and feel uncomfortable stepping into the office. The young receptionist, who notices me, turns around and yells to the back: “Christine, the messenger boy is here”. I want to scream at her and wring her pretty dry neck: ’Lady, you don’t have a clue who you just called a messenger boy!’ And right then I really yearn to be back in Germany in a dry lecture hall teaching chemistry or math, or anything for that matter. This spy stuff has not lived up to his billing.
Next stop Park Avenue in the 60s, Ronald Lauder’s residence. Pick up envelope and deliver to Este Lauder’s main office on Fifth Avenue. I step off the elevator and am dazzled. All pastel colors with a white carpet. The receptionist shrieks: “Do not come in here!”. She comes over and very carefully removes the envelope from my outstretched dripping hand, trying to avoid any contact with the dirty man from the street.
A few more stops, and one last foray to the West Side. The usually pleasurable downhill ride on 34th Street is outright dangerous today. ‘Watch out lady’ I want to scream at the careless pedestrian who crosses in the middle of the block. The brakes don’t work, so I plow right into her. Luckily, she is not hurt, but she expresses her anger by hitting me several times over the head with her umbrella.
The front wheel of my bike is bent to make a figure eight. Got to walk to the nearest bike shop to get it fixed. By the time I get back to the office it is already 1PM. Just enough time for another run in this blasted rain…………….