[messengers] Things San Franciscans Like About Bike Messengers: Everything

Date: 23 Jun 2010 23:29:26 +0200
From: Joe Hendry <messvilleto@xxxxxxxxx>

Things San Franciscans Like About Bike Messengers:


SF Appeal, June 23, 2010



Bike messengers are like the firemen of San Francisco. Not because they are buff or
rescue kittens from trees, but because they are universally thought to be hot


They embody pretty much everything that is adored by San
Franciscans: incredible fitness, bike riding prowess, facial hair, Chrome
messenger bags, antidisestablishmentarianism, and a certain aura of dirtier
than you but still better-than-youness that is fairly irresistible.


If you've ever seen them lounging on the steps around One
Post, smoking and playing slap/tickle with one another while pointedly ignoring
the worker bees milling around them you know exactly what I mean.


The bike messenging field is an interesting one in that it
seems to attract people who dislike corporate America, but who want to run
errands for it during regular business hours. It is this strange symbiotic
relationship which makes bike messengers such confusing and mysterious
creatures, not dissimilar to the fish that clean the skins of sharks.


Being a bike messenger, like tight-rope walking or driving
in cars with high school boys, is basically the act of studied nonchalance in
the face of imminent death. Only once have I seen a bike messenger get really
excited about something and that was when a car knocked him down on Market Street.


He dragged his bike through the intersection, bellowing all
the while, and finally came to a stop in front of the offending vehicle which
was conveniently trapped in the middle of a crosswalk. He planted himself
against its grill and began furiously typing on his cell phone.


It was unclear who he would be texting at this juncture (are
you there God? It's me Jerry) but perhaps it's a testament to our dependence on
social networking, that even getting hit by a car and then holding it hostage
in a busy intersection isn't complete without a live tweet from the event.


Like most other people in the Financial District, bike
messengers wear a black uniform. But unlike most other people it usually
consists of cutoff shorts, Vans or fancy bike shoes, a lower leg tattoo, and a
helmet, or more likely a bandanna, which in laboratory crash tests has been
found to be 1/100th as effective as a helmet, but 200 times more attractive.


This distinction is obviously not lost on your average
messenger, which is why when debating life over lays he/she tends to reach for
the bandanna. As a classmate of mine once said about the difference between
novels and short stories, "The one that gets me off in half the time is
the one I go for every time," which judging by the total unpopularity of
short stories is clearly not a sentiment shared by many Americans, but perhaps
one that bike messengers can relate to.



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