Charles Chiusano, president, Service Messenger, Manhattan's oldest messenger company.
WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN A MESSENGER?
The messenger must be well presented, regardless of age. When he goes to a customer to make a pickup, he is representing our company. When he goes to make a delivery, he is then representing the customer. The driver must be clean-cut, which we reinforce with work rules. A person cannot do his or her job wearing a walkman-style device, for example.
The driver has to have a relatively good command of the language. English could be the person's second language, but he or she has to be able to report to us or take information without asking for it to be repeated.
We'll do a background check, but not an especially deep one. We'll do that if the person works at a customer's mailroom, since we also provide mailroom personnel for companies.
WHAT'S THE MESSENGER'S DAY LIKE?
They work a ten-hour shift, five days a week. We pay them a commission based on the work completed. Some will volunteer to be on call nights and weekends, and since we charge higher rates then, they get more money.
All our messengers are owner/operators with their own vehicle. Most drive vans; others drive hatchback cars. They must insure the vehicle and maintain it, which we check occasionally. We provide them signage that they display. We also require that they buy and wear a uniform with our company logo on it. They also are required to wear a laminated photo ID on a chain around their necks. That's become increasingly important with heightened building security.
They keep in touch using a two-way radio, usually staying on the road the entire shift. The drivers have to worry about parking tickets, even with their commercial plates. And driving in Manhattan can be especially difficult.
Our messengers who hustle can earn $750 per week before expenses, so they can make a nice living at this.
IS THERE A LOT OF TURNOVER?
It's relatively low, actually. We have had many drivers with us for twelve years or more and some who last a year or year and a half. Some leave to start their own business or move out of the area.
WHAT ABOUT CAREER ADVANCEMENT INTO THE OFFICE OPERATION?
Honestly, it would be a pay cut to most and it's not done that often.
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