I Spent a Night Out as a Nang Delivery Driver

Australia has a whole 24/7 economy based around the fact that nitrous oxide chargers are legal, so long as you're using them for "culinary purposes."

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16 January 2017, 6:30pm

Note: the author requested that we blur her image and list the article under a pseudonym as of Jan 16, 2019

We all know that nangs, balloons, whippets, or whatever you call them are often used for purposes other than decorating cakes. And while Australia has a habit of banning things that people like—see Sydney's lockouts—buying nangs has somehow flown under the radar. It's still legal to buy them, although misusing them as a narcotic has been illegal since 2013. But that begs the question, how can you prove someone intends to get high instead of baking a cake?

It's in this legal twilight zone that a bunch of 24/7 nang delivery services have popped up, offering to drop a batch at your door any time you like. These delivery services are easy to find too. Websites and apps let you order whatever amount of nangs you'd like—one box retails for around $20. A hundred of the things will set you back around $150. No proof of age, no proof of cheffing qualifications necessary.

It seems crazy that these businesses manage to operate legally. So I decided to ask a nang delivery guy how it works, and if they'd be willing to let me ride along in their car.

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Finding a nang delivery service that would speak with me, let alone let me ride shotgun on a delivery, proved a lot trickier than getting a box delivered. It seemed every supplier "weren't interested" in being part of the experiment. Whether this was because they feared I would notice their customers weren't baking cakes at 1 AM—I have no idea.

Finally, I managed to find a guy who would have me along, provided I didn't release his brand name or his identity. Tim* has been delivering nangs for a few months. He told me he used to be a heavy user himself, until he smashed 600 of the little guys at a recent festival. Suffering memory loss for days afterwards he'd decided he was done and would only sell them.

"I basically became a nang," Tim told me. "I was constantly nanging all day—from the moment that I woke up until I put myself to bed I was doing one. I was breathing more nitrous oxide than oxygen."

I asked Tim if he thinks he was addicted to nangs. "I wouldn't say I was an addict," he said. "To say I'm an addict is to say I couldn't go without. I can go without a nang and I don't get withdrawals or anything like that. I would just say that I had a strong passion for them."

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You can't tell because her face is pixelated, but this is a very happy customer

Our first delivery of the night was to Gabby*. She was as excited as a child unwrapping a Christmas gift. This was Gabby's first time using the nang delivery service and she told us, using "inverted comma finger signals" that she was "baking a cake." I asked her what kind of cake.

"Umm… cheese cake," she responded.

"Cheese cake with whipped cream?" I asked.

"You bloody betcha!" Gabby said. We left Gabby with her huge box of nangs and were on our way again.

Our next stop was a pretty standard sharehouse with music blaring from inside. Tim and I knocked on the door a couple of times, but it seemed no one could hear us. We decided to go down the side of the house and find another entrance.

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Perfect service, every time

We were greeted by Laura* who was grateful we were able to come out at such a late hour. Maybe it's wrong to assume but Tim and I were pretty confident Laura and her large house of partying friends were not intending to use the chargers in any kind of proper way. I mean, not judging or anything, but I'm pretty sure that's a weed plant growing on her back door step.

"Do you mind if I ask how you intend to use these?" I asked Laura. "How do you think?" Laura responded with sarcasm. I shrugged my shoulders and asked her to tell me. "To take us to the next dimension!" she responded.

On our way to the next house I asked Tim if he thought any of his customers had ever actually baked a cake. I was also curious whether he had any ideas about if his service should be legal. "Who are we to say that someone hasn't fucked up and is baking an 'I'm Sorry' cake for their girlfriend or boyfriend?" he replied. "Maybe someone forgot that it was their turn at Bake Club in the office to cook a cake for Monday morning tea."

Tim told me on a regular night he'd earn between $100 and $400, depending on the demand and how much petrol he has to burn through to make the deliveries.

"And what's your ethical stance on selling things that can basically fuck your brain?" I asked. "I have no stance on it," came the reply. "What people buy is up to them. I'm not forcing them to buy them and do them. It's just like people selling caps or alcohol—it's the person's choice what they choose to do."

I asked whether his mum knows what he does for a living. "Of course my mother doesn't know," he said. "She's a saint and she wouldn't like it. Just like most people who keep stuff from their mothers, she doesn't need to know everything."

The last house we dropped a box of nangs to belonged to Taylor*. We knocked on the front door and were happily greeted by Taylor and her other housemate. It was 3am in the morning at this point, and we'd been driving around for a while. I was knackered. Taylor and her housemate asked if we'd like to come in for a chill and a chat.

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"What do you think about nang delivery services Taylor?" I asked her. "It's sick!" she replied. "I don't think the use of nangs should be illegal. They're illegal in England, and other places apparently, but can't we just have one nice thing to give us a little bit of a buzz?"

Taylor and her friends had just got home from a night out at a club. They were sitting around in the courtyard winding down, and said they just wanted a couple of nangs to chill out. Everybody was super friendly and welcoming.

Taylor stopped, turned to me, and held up the nanginator. "Do you want one?" she asked.