Re: [messengers] Bike Messenger: A Job and A Way of Life

Date: 21 Jul 2010 02:07:39 +0200
From: Nick <likeanowl@xxxxxxxxx>


Right, Matty? 


On Jul 20, 2010, at 5:01 PM, Matthew Case <lug.junkie@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

> I remember back in the day when I would do stupid crap that would nearly get
> me killed for a $4 tag because of the love of the lifestyle.
> Oh wait.  I never did that.  I guess it's a new/oldschool thing.
> Remember that time I put all of your stories into a book and said they were
> all mine?
> xoxoxo
> Matt Case
> On Tue, Jul 20, 2010 at 4:42 PM, andy duncan <mcbstrd@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
>>  ... veterans always have much more sensible things to say - that's why
>>  we are still here!
>>  even so, the usual stereotypes prevail in the mix of bad journalism and
>>  professional inexperience
>>  AD
>>  --- dannykdc@xxxxxxxxx wrote:
>>  From: Danny Koniowsky <dannykdc@xxxxxxxxx>
>>  To: mcbstrd@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
>>  Cc: Joe Hendry <messvilleto@xxxxxxxxx>, messengers@xxxxxxxxx
>>  Subject: Re: [messengers] Bike Messenger: A Job and A Way of Life
>>  Date: Tue, 20 Jul 2010 10:47:32 -0400
>>  Those are also just things that that rookie dude in the article said.
>>  The more veteran riders in the article had much smarter things to say
>>  than the dude whose bit hit 8 times in his 1 year working as a
>>  messenger, and talks about "if youâre going to last long-term itâs
>>  because you love the lifestyle"... hopefully he will get it one day.
>>  On Tue, Jul 20, 2010 at 10:38 AM, andy duncan
>>  <[1]mcbstrd@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
>>    when reading articles like this I often feel that a North American
>>    journalist should write about being a messenger in european
>>    provincial cities .... my work is not for example in the least bit
>>    like a video game, and I am not prepared to mow down a row of
>>    pedestrians just to get the job done two seconds sooner ....
>>    my ten eurocents
>>    love and peace,
>>    AD
>>    --- [2]messvilleto@xxxxxxxxx wrote:
>>    From: Joe Hendry <[3]messvilleto@xxxxxxxxx>
>>    To: Messenger list <[4]messengers@xxxxxxxxx>
>>    Subject: [messengers] Bike Messenger: A Job and A Way of Life
>>    Date: Tue, 20 Jul 2010 06:19:21 -0700 (PDT)
>>    Bike Messenger: A Job and A Way of Life
>>    Chicago Talks, July 20, 2010
>>    By Katy Nielsen
>>    They blaze through red lights, skid around pedestrians and nearly
>>    collide with oncoming traffic. Sergio Rodriguez, a criminal defense
>>    attorney from Chicago called them âa nuisance.â
>>    Who are they: Urban bike messengers.
>>    âWhat these people donât know is that the bicycle is more than a
>>    sport and more than a job. . . the bicycle is a philosophy, a way of
>>    life,â explains Chicago bike messenger Travis Hugh Culley, author of
>>    The Immortal Class. His book reveals the art of bike messaging
>>    through his firsthand account, shedding light on a misunderstood
>>    group.
>>    Among Chicagoâs 200 bike messengers, there is a sense of pride in
>>    what they do. Mike Malone, 27, has worked two years as a bike
>>    messenger in Chicago, âitâs partially my love of biking;â he said,
>>    âbut itâs also just the freedom of not having someone look over my
>>    shoulder.â
>>    On a typical day, the messenger will get a chirp from his boss on
>>    his Nextel with information about where to pickup and drop-off a
>>    package; he scribbles down or memorizes that information and takes
>>    to the street.
>>    So what exactly are bike messengers carrying? For the most part,
>>    they deliver architectural blueprints, court documents, camera parts
>>    and subcontracts. Messengers can carry up to six or more packages at
>>    one time.
>>    They also buy their own gear and carry it with them all day. A
>>    messengerâs equipment in addition to his bike includes a
>>    walkie-talkie, tire pump, spare tire, levers to take a tire off,
>>    bike lock and a collection of tools.
>>    As soon as the messenger receives orders from dispatch, the focus
>>    becomes moving the package from point A, to point B as fast as
>>    possible.
>>    âItâs like being in a videogame all day.  Thatâs why people love the
>>    job, because youâre getting paid to race,â explains Grant Fator, 27,
>>    a messenger who has worked in Chicago for a year and messaged in
>>    Austin for six months.
>>    Messengers are sprinters; getting on and off their bikes as fast as
>>    they can and locking them up in three seconds or less. Most runs are
>>    a mile and a half, and to put that into perspective, the distance
>>    from 1200 South Michigan to 1200 North Michigan is about three
>>    miles. Timing is everything, so messengers have to plan their routes
>>    carefully.
>>    Nico Deportago-Cabrera, 26, a veteran bike messenger explained that
>>    âwith time you learn how to be more efficient.â A good messenger
>>    will make about 30 runs and earn about $100 a day. That is one a
>>    good day, Deportago-Cabrera said.
>>    âTheyâre going to pay you more the faster you get to a place, the
>>    more red lights you run. I have literally seen messengers plow
>>    pedestrians down; I have seen messengers try to gun the red light
>>    and get smashed by a bus,â Fator said.
>>    This is not a job for the fainthearted.
>>    âIn order to do the job thatâs required of you, you have to be
>>    willing to break the law all day long,â said Chris Horner, 27, who
>>    has worked as a messenger for 2 years, adding, âyou basically have
>>    to be fearless.â
>>    Messengers are expected to know how to get around the city and where
>>    to take packages.
>>    âWhen you hear, âtake it to 233 S. Wacker,â if you take [that
>>    package] in 233 S. Wacker, security guards will literally come up
>>    and ask if youâre a bike messenger and tell you to go around the
>>    back,â said Fator.
>>    In order to avoid encounters with security, messengers must learn
>>    how to be unseen. This is one of many unwritten rules in this line
>>    of work.
>>    At lunchtime, messengers congregate at the Thompson Center, mostly
>>    because of the cheap food, public bathrooms, protective awnings and
>>    because its central location. On nice days, it is a place where
>>    messengers do bike tricks outside.
>>    At the end of the day, each messenger turns in a manifest, a record
>>    of when and who signed for each package. This is how a messenger is
>>    paid. They bike home and, because messengers are often roommates,
>>    swap stories over beers and cigarettes before going to bed.
>>    âIn general as a bike messenger if youâre going to last long-term
>>    itâs because you love the lifestyle,â explains Fator. âWhen youâre
>>    working from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. six days-a-week it pretty much
>>    envelopes your life. You are just dead tired all the time, but you
>>    are doing great work. Youâre living that lifestyle all the time so
>>    you have to love it because youâre not making that much money doing
>>    it.â
>>    âWhen youâre riding as much as we do you start to use all five
>>    senses to get around the traffic. Itâs really impossible to
>>    explain,â said Malone, âanother messenger, Josh Corby said âitâs
>>    kind of like watching a river flow over some rocks you canât pick
>>    out the path the river takes it just flows around and through and
>>    just gets past the rocksâ.â
>>    Deportago-Cabrera said: Thereâs a rhythm that goes with [messaging].
>>    You feel like youâre a part of this organism that is the city. Itâs
>>    like youâre delivering oxygen to different parts of this body.
>>    Youâre an insignificant part of it but youâre essential to it.
>>    The job of bike messaging, when described by messengers, is an art
>>    form. It is something not everyone can do and few people master.
>>    Messengers describe weaving through traffic like following a line
>>    through the city.
>>    âThereâs no stopping, thatâs why guys ride without brakes. You just
>>    want to keep going around things and through things. You donât want
>>    to stop,â Fator said.
>>    âItâs when the pedestrians do the deer-in-the-headlights thing that
>>    we run into trouble,â said Fator. âIf no one ever saw bike
>>    messengers and they just kept walking, we would be an inch away from
>>    you but we would be fine.â
>>    The need for speed extends past the messengerâs workday into the
>>    nightlife. âAlleycatâ races are high-speed scavenger hunts for
>>    bikers. Racers show up to a place at a certain time, pay a few bucks
>>    to the organizer, and right before they get the signal to go, each
>>    racer is given a manifest with a list of checkpoints.
>>    At each checkpoint there is someone waiting to sign off. The first
>>    one to complete their manifest wins.
>>    âBasically youâre doing your job afterhours and trying to be the
>>    fast guy,â said Fator.
>>    Deportago-Cabrera was the 2009 Cycle Currier Champion, and he has
>>    competed in cities all over the world, taking him as far as Tokyo.
>>    âIt really got me amped on my job,â said Deportago-Cabrera of
>>    alleycat races.
>>    For messengers, street credit means everything. That credit comes
>>    from surviving the winter in Chicago as a messenger and winning
>>    alleycat races.
>>    The lifestyle of a messenger is high-risk. Injuries are part of the
>>    job. Of 113 Boston bicycle messengers who responded to a
>>    self-administered Harvard survey 90% reported injuries on the job;
>>    however, only 55% of those injured sought medical attention. In
>>    total, there were 25,000 âclose callsâ reported by the messengers
>>    over the course of their job experience.
>>    Fator, like many messengers, does not have health insurance.
>>    Messengers can buy liability insurance through their companies, but
>>    it does not cover hospital stays.
>>    âIf any insurance stuff needs to be taken care of and it gets sent
>>    to your dispatch; 8 times out of 10 you lose your job over it,â said
>>    Fator.
>>    When messengers get into accidents, they try to escape that
>>    situation as fast as they can. Fator expressed more concern about
>>    his bike braking than his body. He has had eight collisions with
>>    cars, and has been âdooredâ (hit by a car door) three times.
>>    âWhenever [messengers] heal theyâre out there doing the same thing
>>    because itâs a passion, itâs an adrenaline thing,â said Fator.
>>    Of course, messengers know there is a risk. For many of them that is
>>    part of the jobâs appeal.
>>    Travis Hugh Culley said this his book The Immortal Class:
>>    Unforeseeable problems can surface, threatening serious injury,
>>    extreme fatigue, and frustration. But if a biker can keep a good
>>    outlook in the face of wrong addresses, rude recipients, flat tires,
>>    dying radio batteries, unruly cops, hotheaded security guards, and
>>    injured friends, he can become indispensable to a company.
>>    People become messengers for different reasons, but they all share
>>    the passion for riding their bikes through a beautiful, living,
>>    breathing city. As Malone said, âIâve found something that I love to
>>    do and can make a living at it. At the end of the day, it makes me
>>    happy. At the end of the day I feel satisfied that Iâve done my job.
>>    To me, thatâs all that matters.â
>>    --------------------------------------------------------------------
>>    ---------
>>    Mess media - [5]
>>    Bryant Watch - [6]
>>    ===========================================
>>    _______________________________________________
>>    Messengers mailing list
>>    [7]Messengers@xxxxxxxxx
>>    [8]
>>    _____________________________________________________________
>>    email services provided by [9], your source for
>>    alleycat and trackbike photos. submissions welcome.
>>    _______________________________________________
>>    Messengers mailing list
>>    [10]Messengers@xxxxxxxxx
>>    [11]
>>    __________________________________________________________________
>>  email services provided by, your source for alleycat and
>>  trackbike photos. submissions welcome.
>> References
>>  1. mailto:mcbstrd@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
>>  2. mailto:messvilleto@xxxxxxxxx
>>  3. mailto:messvilleto@xxxxxxxxx
>>  4. mailto:messengers@xxxxxxxxx
>>  5.
>>  6.
>>  7. mailto:Messengers@xxxxxxxxx
>>  8.
>>  9.
>> 10. mailto:Messengers@xxxxxxxxx
>> 11.
>> _______________________________________________
>> Messengers mailing list
>> Messengers@xxxxxxxxx
> _______________________________________________
> Messengers mailing list
> Messengers@xxxxxxxxx