Today's post follows up on one I did last month, about what used to be called a 'courier job' before Amazon and such existed. At the time, I mentioned delivery boys and paperboys, but there was one much more famous – and much more important - courier job I was leaving out. So after a kindly reader pointed it out to me (thanks, Mark!) I did a little digging, and found what I am about to share with you today, and what I think may have been the original courier job: Pony Express.
Some of you may know what this is already, especially if you are fans of cowboy films or novels. For those of you who don't, here is the Wikipedia entry for it. And just in case you're too lazy to read that, I'll explain it to you in a nutshell. Pony Express was basically a courier service in the times of the Old West, when we English were just starting to colonize what is known today as the United States. Back then, of course, there were no telephones, or even telegraphs, so any messages or parcels people might have would have to be carried on horseback (you'd already gathered that from the name, hadn't you, you smart lot you!). That's right, these people took messages across the United States using horses!
Of course, they didn't use the same horse the entire time – that would just be cruel! Instead, the company had relay stations in key areas, where the riders could rest and, if necessary, swap horses before continuing their journey. Does this sound familiar to anyone? That's right, Pony Express operated a little like today's distribution centres (or taxicab centrals), which is only one more reason why I think we can say Pony Express riders had the first ever courier job.
But perhaps the most surprising thing I found when looking up Pony Express online is that it still exists – kind of. You see, there is a company here in the UK with the same name as the original American company! Just why they would pick that name, I don't know – I'm sure they don't carry out their jobs on horseback, even though there are plenty of horses (and ponies) in our fields... It's a curious little oddity, though, and I felt like I had to mention it in this article. Who knows, maybe one of my readers even has a courier job there! If you do, write in, and tell me if you lot really do ride horses! ;) The rest of you lot, I'll see next time!
"The Pony Express Statue in Sacramento" © 2010 Loco Steve, used under a Creative Commons Attribution license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en