Bike courier 

Delivery guy endures road rage and rain to bring you a Kit Kat

From a warehouse off of Cheshire Bridge Road, bike courier Lee Giordano hits the pavement, bringing Krispy Kreme donuts and movie rentals to wired consumers on behalf of kozmo.com. Riding up to four miles each delivery, he logs up to 60 miles a day.

Kozmo.com sells food, electronics, gifts and convenience items from its website, promising delivery within an hour. Workers at the Atlanta office make deliveries by car, motor scooter and bicycle. On his bike route Giordano delivers to downtown, Midtown, Buckhead, Virginia-Highland and Decatur.

A junior sociology major at Georgia State University, Giordano bought his bike as a means of transportation. He enjoyed riding so much that he took the job as a bike courier in October.

Did you do any physical training before starting the job?

I rode at most probably 10 miles a day. The day I trained here I was riding with the couriers that worked here and I could hardly keep up. But it only took me a couple weeks to get in shape.

Is it difficult to make deliveries within an hour?

Not really because we only have a four-mile radius that we go in. It takes 45 minutes to go four miles, and most of them are under four miles.

What shifts do you work?

I work 30 hours a week part-time. I work two afternoon shifts, from noon to 8 p.m. or 1 to 7 p.m. And I work two night shifts, which is 4 p.m. until quarter of 11 or 12.

How much of that time are you actually riding your bike?

Before Christmas it was like nonstop. You'd come in and get a package and go out. It was almost eight hours a day on your bike. It took a while to get used to. The first couple days I was sore from being out of shape.

How much does this job pay?

$8 an hour, plus tips, which vary a lot. Then we get a dollar per transaction, so every package I deliver adds a dollar to my pay.

Do you provide your own bike?

Yeah. They give us a bag and a helmet and we provide our own bikes. We just have to wear one of their T-shirts, something that says Kozmo on it.

What's it like to share the road with Atlanta drivers?

I don't think cars have consideration for bikes. I don't think they understand like how powerful a car is and how defenseless a bike is. They hate going around you. A few times a night someone goes by screaming at me just because. I've been hit a couple times, but not bad. It can get scary at times. When I have a run on Buford Highway, that's kind of intimidating because it's a highway almost. But other times it's a residential area and it's not that bad. If it's real late at night, traffic is not that bad. Rush hour is kind of fun just because you can go around cars. That's the fun part about it, but you also have to be really careful and know what you're doing. I'm slowly learning how to avoid the main roads.

So you've had "road rage" experiences on your bike?

I had one guy that intentionally tried to hit me. It was during rush hour and I cut through traffic and went around him and went up the road. He finally caught up to me and started screaming at me and calling me all these names. I was like 'whoa.' He went up the road and then he stopped and when I was going past him he swerved right and left real quick to block the space and I had to slam on my brakes. What was that guy thinking? I've had people follow me for miles just honking just because they're mad. When they do that it doesn't really accomplish much.

Do you ride your bike in all kinds of weather?

Yes. It's been like 35 degrees, raining and windy. We have nice gear. They give us rain pants and we have a jacket that's really waterproof. Everything I have is waterproof, so other than my face I stay pretty dry. Sometimes my whole face will just go numb.

Do you have to know all the streets and neighborhoods?

They print out Yahoo! maps for us so if you don't know where a place is you just follow that step by step. Since it's only a four-mile radius I go the same places a lot and I can remember where they are. It was kind of scary at first because I was afraid I would be getting lost. It happened a few times. When you're on a bike and you're lost it's just miserable, but you have a radio so you can always call in.

Does it take a certain personality to do this work?

I guess you just have to be comfortable riding in traffic. If you're not, it can be really stressful. You just have to be confident in your riding ability.

What items do you deliver most often?

We do a lot of cigarettes. You can tell when it's cigarettes because they have to sign and you check ID. It's a lot of different soft drinks and Gatorade and ice cream.

Do you have any plans to buy a car?

In Atlanta it's almost easier not to drive and I have enough friends with cars that if I need a ride somewhere I can get there. I can pretty much ride MARTA anywhere I need to go and ride my bike a couple miles and be there.

What are your goals for the future?

I don't picture myself doing one job for the rest of my life. I think this is a really interesting job. Before this I was a buser at Planet Hollywood and that was horrible. I was there for a year-and-a-half. Compared to that, this is great. I really enjoy doing social activism and stuff so I'd probably tend to do something along those lines and ride my bike for fun.

What issues have you been involved in?

I was in D.C. during the meeting of the World Bank. I was in Philadelphia for the Republican National Convention and spent some time in jail for that. I was charged with blocking a highway. We're making puppets for a national day of action in protest of the School of Americas on Jan. 17. I'd like to go up to the inauguration and protest there, but I have to work.

Do you ever order from Kozmo when you're hanging out at home?

No. I've actually never even been on the website. I kind of live in a different world. That's like consumer culture and I'm not really into it.

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