[messengers] Freewheeling folks ride the bike-messenger rush

Date: 27 Jul 2010 12:45:39 +0200
From: Joe Hendry <messvilleto@xxxxxxxxx>






Freewheeling folks ride the bike-messenger rush 

   

Trey Bundy, San Francisco Chronicle, July 27, 2010 

   

Anyone who thinks they're good at multitasking could
probably learn a thing or two from San
  Francisco 's bike messengers. 

   

Who else can simultaneously navigate downtown traffic in
death-defying style, facilitate business communications between Financial District
power players and enforce the no-talking-on-your-cell-phone-behind-the-wheel
law (via profane hand gestures) with more diligence than the police? 

   

It's a tall order, but the bike messengers can pull it off,
and on two wheels no less. We stopped by "the wall" and "the
statue," two Market Street 
sidewalk hangouts where messengers congregate when they're not busy zipping
through the downtown maze. 

Scott C. Scott, 46 

   

Profession: Bike messenger, 20 years 

   

Neighborhood: Alamo
  Square 

   

What's the best thing about the job? I like the freedom of
it. Right now I'm sitting here reading. I like being in the real world, not
stuck in a cubicle. 

   

Is the job dangerous? I think it's less dangerous than it
used to be. I think cars are more aware now. 

   

If you weren't a bike messenger, what would you be doing?
Funny you should ask. I'm actually in college right now, and I hope to be a
math teacher in junior high or high school. 

Katie Styer, 24 

   

Profession: Bike messenger, 11 months 

   

Neighborhood: Mission 

   

What's the best thing about the job? The empowerment you get
from riding a bicycle for fun translates to working. Riding in fast traffic can
be fun if it's something you do well. Anyone who, as a kid, ever wanted to fly
ended up riding bikes. 

   

Is the job dangerous? It's as dangerous as you are unaware. 

   

If you weren't a bike messenger, what would you be doing? I
would be doing oral history work, interviewing community members and creating a
historical record. 

Shark Bline, 50 

   

Profession: Bike messenger, 32 years 

   

Neighborhood: West Oakland 

   

What's the best thing about the job? Not having a boss
hovering over you all the time. 

   

Is the job dangerous? Yeah. Most people think about cars and
buses, but there are pigeons, potholes, little old ladies, street cleaners. And
don't forget commuters and tourists. 

   

If you weren't a bike messenger, what would you be doing?
Hopefully brewing beer. I do home brew to the tune of 40 gallons at a time. 

Jr., 61 

   

Profession: Bike messenger, 35 years 

   

Neighborhood: Mission 

   

What's the best thing about the job? You're always out
there. If there's anything happening in town, eventually you're going to end up
going by there. 

   

Is the job dangerous? There are a lot of dangerous jobs in
the world. Look at a quarterback; he's going to get hit. We can go a couple of
months without getting hit by a car door. 

   

If you weren't a bike messenger, what would you be doing? I
have problems that are particular to me that make it impossible to do other
jobs. I was poisoned a while back, and it messed up my memory. 

Damon Votour, 40 

   

Profession: Bike messenger, 16 years 

   

Neighborhood: Mission 

   

What's the best thing about the job? I enjoy the freedom,
riding my bike and the autonomy. And my fellow kindred spirits, my fellow
messengers. 

   

Is the job dangerous? Yes. There are people out there who
shouldn't have licenses. And that people talk on their cell phones makes it
twice as dangerous. 

   

If you weren't a bike messenger, what would you be doing?
History teacher, because to understand human nature from what people did in the
past helps you understand the future.

   




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