New York City is empty these days. The streets have quieted; the normal pedestrian bustle is nonexistent, and the noise of traffic has turned mostly into near-constant ambulance sirens. Most of us are hunkered down, hibernating until this season of plague shifts into something new. One person who’s not is Miekii, a New York City bike messenger who’s still out and about delivering food to people across Manhattan for Uber Eats.
I happened across his IRL stream this afternoon. It’s refreshingly different than the other channels in the category because you get to see a portrait of New York as it changes over the course of a day. Miekii goes live every day around 11AM ET, according to the schedule posted on his channel page, and streams his routes. And lately, that’s taken on an extra resonance: I can’t leave my apartment, but I can still see what it’s like right now in my city. And Miekii is a comforting presence. The audience is strapped to his chest via GoPro, and at every stop, he never fails to point out why he likes that particular part of the city. It’s not a tour, exactly. It’s more of an active, vocal appreciation for a place he clearly loves. It’s calming.
I haven’t been to Manhattan in at least a month. That’s very strange for me because I used to commute there for work, events, and the like more than a few times a week. It was part of my routine, which has been suspended. Watching Miekii bike around the city felt comforting, in a way; all that steel and glass isn’t going anywhere, even if it’s vacant and the streets are quiet. Miekii bikes around 30 miles per day, delivering anywhere from eight to 15 orders in a day. Today, he got 10 done in around five and a half hours. I haven’t left the four walls of my apartment in days, but I feel a little happier — I saw the inside of a restaurant for the first time in a month. It’s just reassuring to know that life goes on, and it is comforting to see that it is going on, even now, through all of this.