Tuesday, March 31, 2009

tales from the front


i'm leaving 315 Bay st. after meeting up with 50 to hand him a job going north that's got more than an hour left. I'm headed to 235 Mo, to grab a job going to the heights along with two others i have on board. One of the jobs is due at 1600 Webster at 3:33pm. I cut up Grant st, hang a soft left onto southbound columbus, and i'm off. Columbus gets quick once you get over the hump. I made the green going thru broadway, and split the lane to get out in front of the pack. As i'm approaching the 3-way intersection of Columbus/Montgomery/Washington, i still have the green and continue thru with the right of way. As i'm about 10-12 yards out from the intersection, red pickup makes an illegal right hand turn from southbound montgomery onto washington - directly in my path. I realize that collision is the only way this scenario is going to play out... i lock up the brakes and skid into his passenger door, using my entire left side (bike and body) to take the brunt. I didn't fall, but i stopped fast and it felt like it. SO i proceed to get the guy to stop - he did - and pull over - he did. I lean my bike up against the grill on his bumper and approach the window. It's an 80 year old chinese guy, and he can't understand what i'm saying. oh, and right around when i was directing jerkface to pull over, meatball blasted the intersection behind me, laughing and pointing and seriously loving it.

When that guy (meatball) cracked his skull on five separate occasions during work over teh course of the first year he lived here, i was there for him every time. Everytime he passed out wasted on Bart and woke up in Pittsburgh/Bay Point or Fremont with no ride home, i was the first one he'd call, even though i didn't have a car. I've bailed out meatball more times than i can remember, and he hates me for reasons unknown to me...i think onetime he said he hated me because of my relationship with my ex gf. This is the same guy who, after he was kicked out of the house we lived in for being a constant asshole, called my ex to talk shit and lie about me (how i have STD's...WTF?! who would make up tha stuff?!) and convince her of all of these reasons why she and i are broken up....the thing is, she already knew everything he was trying to "expose" about me....and she remains one of my closest friends to this day. This is the same guy who once caused our roommate's friend to storm out of the house in hysterics, sobbing and in tears because he proceeded to tell her that "it's all the Jews fault".... Same guy who is outwardly racist - in the midst of one of our "lively discourses" he screamed at me about how white men are the devil and consciously keep everyone "down"....but he's white himself. This is the same guy who, when confronted and humiliated in public by someone he owed $150 to (call him Frank), decided to focus his rage on ME by screaming about how i conspired with "Frank" about where he was....meatball's debt to Frank - who did him a solid favor by giving him a bike frame when he crashed his own - had nothing to do with me. The fact that that person called him out in front of a dozen people at the statue had nothing to do with me. Anyone who wants to, can find meatball anytime of the day between the hours of 8am to 5:30pm: at the statue drinking sparks with a spliff. This is the same roommate that will break your shit and not pay you back for it. This is the same roommate that will just come into your room without asking and look for stuff. This is the same roommate that will be happy to smoke all of your ganja but never share any of his own. This is the same roommate who will leave angry little notes everywhere. Bottom of the barrel, scumbag bike messenger who doesn't accept responsibility for anything or any shit situation he creats. He hates anyone that's got anything nice in their life, because he's convinced himself that he's lower than anyone else. The world is out to get him, and he loves to play the victim. On two separate occasions that i know of in Chicago, he instigated a fist-fight, got popped in the nose, and immediately called the cops. it's weak-ass pussy-shit. it must be tough doing 15 tags a day, all of which are between 111 pine and 265 mo. I must admit i am much better off without that character in my life.
/end rant

Anyways, back to the wreck at hand. A big huge security officer came running out of 655 Mo, yelling "I'm a cyclist, i saw it happen," etc. etc. and he starts jotting down info, and says he's going to flag down an officer. I continue to ask the driver about insurance or ID, and i'm getting nowhere because "he doesn't speak english". At this point, i'm almost convinced that i'm not going to get anywhere, and consider venting by introducing my u-lock to his headlights and taking off....but by then the security guard had flagged down a DPT meter maid, who came over and checked it out. He he some radioing back and forht, and tells me that the only way to get PD over here quick is by saying ssomeones injured... although i had never said if i was hurt. EMTs and cops come, and i copy down all of the guys info. Thank fucking god/allah/buddha/krishna this guy has a current policy with State Farm!

EMT checks me out, they confirm that, yes, i'm okay. Cops come, i show them what's wrong /broken on my bike, and they attempt to get a translator. Cop realizes i'm trying to get back to work, and lets me go after getting all my information.

Another positive interaction with SF's Finest, one rattled skull and no broken bones....makes for another day on the lines. The weather was freakin' amazing too!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

one of those days.

So two sundays ago, my work bike was stolen from taco bell. we were reunited after 45 minutes, but not before i scoured my lovely neighborhood after dark in the rain. Good story for another time. I followed a trail of clues which led me to the culprit.

But no, no, today i am writing because of work, and the happenings of my day, today while at work, as a courier / bike messenger in SF.

Started out the day, went on a run to District Court that was bringing me back to base in the Mission. I'm jamming southbound down the bikelane on polk, looking to cross market onto 10th, then make a zig and a zag to get onto Folsom to get to 18th. Before i get to polk, this jackass in a fancy car gets too close for comfort to me and crosses the line, so i let him know. He didn't appreciate my gesture, i had already moved on and was across market, clear in front. Out of nowhere, this lightweight object strikes me (or the oversize flats sticking out of the top of my bag), and the jackass rips past me again. he had thrown something at me, which turns out to be a coke can. I get hot and pursue (i never know what i'm going to do when i catch up), but we have all of the green lights on 10th, and he gets onto I-80. I knew it was a coke can because once i got back to base, coke was splattered on the outside of the package.

That's just to start the day.

Mid afternoon, things are starting to jump a bit.i'm coming up 3rd street thru SOMA, aiming for 2 picks at 201 3rd, then onto 49 Geary for another pick. i make the 201 3rd picks, now i'm cranking north on 3rd in the right lane. As i cross Jesse Alley, before i get to Stevenson alley and Market street, this jerkface in the far left lane in front of the Westin decides to step on it and cross three lanes of traffic in order to get to Stevenson alley. He does this and very nearly crushes me in the process. I obligatorily yell at him and suggest he take driving lessons. He then proceeds to deride me about how i'm a Big Man with my Toy, etc etc. Fuck. This is where i have a problem - i get hot. I've never gotten hot enough to punch someone, i'll wait for the firs tpunch and then end it. But this douche gets under my skin somehow. As he's stopped just inside Stevenson and jawing with me, i pull up to his rear, driver-side and we continue our discourse. Fuck it, i'm done - i left a love tap (with key in palm) on the rear quarterpanel. Not too hard, palm slap for effect.

This is where i need to learn how to get away better.

So after i slapped his truck, dude blows UP. I'm scrambling to turn around and get away, but i didn't quite get my footing as i turned around, and all of a sudden this huge guido hulk has got me by the right shoulder tomahawk patch on my Hawks jersey and won't let go. Oh, it's on now. We start bellowing at eachother, he's trying to call the cops, i key up on the radio in case i get knocked the fuck out, at least my co workers will hear it. this guy was GIANT and wasn't letting me go. Meanwhile a crowd is gathering on the corner of Stevenson and third. I'm not paying so much attention to them, but it seems i have their support - someone other than me saw that dickface drive like shit. So i'm on my horse, dude's got me by the right shoulder. No way i'm going to punch the guy, but he's restraining me and i'm pissed.

Out of nowhere comes this decrepit little cracky bum. he gets right up to me on my left side and starts going on about how he saw what happened, and that I am in the wrong, yadda yadda yadda. I tell him to STFU, he keeps going on, and i give him a forearm shiver with my left (free) arm, shoving him back about 5 feet, and i turn my attention back to the matter at hand.

Cracky-bum comes back at me on my left side. This time, he says "dont fuck with me, you wouldn't want to get this" and with that, he has something in his palm that he's about to stab/slice/needle me with and is making the move to slice my upper left arm.

Fuck this. I woudl have dealt with Hulk somehow, but this Cracky-bum exacerbated the situation and i decided i needed to do more to get the fuck out. As cracky-bum is moving the move to me, my left arm cocks back and i wallop this fool on the side of his skullet. To my surprise and joy, at the exact same time Hulk lets go of my jersey - i don't know what it was, but i heard someone in the crowd just yelling "get outta here man, ride!" I didn't need to hear that to know. I took off east down stevenson, turning left at Annie (knowing it ends at a plaza before meeting Market st.). I didn't want to stay on the street for fear of being run over. i try to jump the high curb off of Annie onto the Plaza, but i endo'ed, nearly bailed, and threw my chain. I picked my ride up and ran into the nearst store, a bakery, and took off my helmet and jersey, effectivly changing costumes.

and there's more, but not as exciting. after that i gather up a court run, head out Mission st, turn right onto 7th. I'm coming up 7th twds market, and there's a caddy in the middle lane, stopped. I see the passenger side door start to open as i'm approaching the rear of the car, and with my left hand (while yelling) throw it closed (well, less open, at least.). I cross market and merge onto mcallister, and while i'm crossing hyde another jerkface turns left in front of me (turning into my forward direction) but does so from HIS far right lane. Arrrgh! I have had enough of idiots today. So while i make sure HE doesn't hit me (by yelling of course) i'm momentarily distracted. I'm infront of 35o McAllister (my destination) and my right hand knuckles graze (loudly) a drivers side mirror of a parked car, and just my luck the owner is near by. He yells at me like that wasnt' what he needed to end his day. I didn't need it either. I rode around to the other side of the block and went in through the back.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Commandments of bike messenger-ism.

Here's some knowledge that was dropped on me during my years of messengering thru Chicago's Winters and equally blistering summer days. Following my list will be words of wisdom passed on from others via the interwebs.

1) Stay Hydrated.
2) Layer clothes properly. I like the ski-balaclava thing that covers yer head but it's thin enough to still be able to sport a helmet.
3) Don't be afriad to wear ski goggles.
4) Realze you will be wet. Find your standby sanctuarys and always know where one is relative to your position. You never know when you'll be near another.
5) When riding over the cheese-grater bridges in Chicago in wet weather, don't tense up or look down thru to the river. Your rear wheel likely will fishtail - just maintain forward momentum and don't struggle. relaxxxxxxxx
6) Enjoy your bicycle and take care of it. If that means throwing it in the shower with you after work because you've ridden through thousands of gallons of salt, then do it.
7) Keep plenty of plastic bags with you, of different sizes. For your radio(s), your oversize packages, for your ipod, for your sanity.
8) next to my door I kept a checklist of things that i would be miserable without - gloves, etc. Stuff your typically wouldn't forget, but once you're at work and without, you suddenly miss.
9) If you're standing-by, don't just sit around smoking spliffs. really. Ride your bike in circles, or keep moving or something, because once that work finally comes to you, and you've been sitting on your ass. it makes getting back into the flow sooooo much easier.
10) Cal's for the mid-day warmup
11) Lower wacker driver makes things soooo much easier, plus you can escape the elements.

1) Stay Hydrated
2) properly layer
3) stay hydrated
4) In chicago, Lake Michigan was a welcome respite fro the 100 degree days. Since it's so close to downtown, i'd just go to the Beach off of LSD @ Michigan ave and strip to the bae minimum and jump in for a quick bit then get back on the bike. You're cooled off and dry within minutes.
5) Gina the Pizza lady!
6) Cal's for the midday cool-off


  • Respect your fellow meessengers.
  • Don't DIS the dispatcher. It will NEVER EVER EVER work in your favor.
  • Respect. period. Hot heads can tend to wreck a lot, IMO. Everyone gets mad, but it's what you do with it - do you want to carry it around all day or forget about it and move on? I don't need anything else to add to the list of things that pisses me off, so i try not to let idiots get to me.
  • There will be a time and place whee you feel the need to exact U-Lock Justice to a vehicle or other inanimate object (never a person). Just make sure you can get away. Ducking into Parking Garages has proved effective in the evasion of those you have dispensed Justice to.
  • Don't be afraid to scream if you need to break thru the ped crowd. The one that seems to work for me is: "I'VE GOT NO BRAKES!!"
  • $0.99 Pringles @ walgreens = a good day.
  • Find the spot where they don't mind you using their microwave once in a while.
  • Get a good cross-street guide.
  • Clever moustaches are not necessary for employment as a messenger.
  • Don't kick the bums. SUre luch at the woman who is peeing into the curb while standing up, but you don't have to berate the poor crazy dude who's trolling for cigarette butts. Really, you don't have to berate anyone.
  • Appreciate and embrace lively arguments and constructive criticisms, but don't carry grudges or hold beef. That's a lot of weight to bear.
  • Have a list of accessible water-closets.
  • Be one with jah. There's little subsects of mess'ers that seem to hate each other, and it's a really interesting social construct to witness. Cliques are cliques, and it all boils down to high-school buffoonery. If you're a kid that's fine. If you're 30 and still passing on your standbytime with copious amounts of Spliffs and Sparks, maybe it's time to grow up, maybe not. Who DOESN'T love the burnt out old-time messenger?

have a safe and happy 2009, the three of you that read this. ;)

I found these words of advice and knowledge on some facebook group page.

I never could identify with the linear thinking of the Commandments. I offer this circuitous way of operating as a messenger to everybody as I've found
it over 18 years on the road...

Four Noble Truths of Bike Messengering:

1. There is conflict in and out of traffic as events constantly shift.
2. Conflict in and out of traffic becomes a problem when one takes it personally.
3. The conflict in and out of traffic can be averted.
4. Ride the eightfold path.

Eightfold Path of Messengering:

1. Keep in mind that things constantly shift in and out of traffic and try not to take anything anyone does personally.
2. Stay in the moment you're in, on and off the bike. Don't hold grudges or plan arguments. Just ride the bike, pay attention and enjoy yourself!
3. Refrain from cursing out or judging anyone in or out of traffic. The sensation of superiority is false, fleeting and less enjoyable than just moving on. Greet all who champion or challenge you with a laugh - after all: you're free.
4. Ride away from things, not at them...even errant pedestrians and side view mirrors. Tolerate security procedures, impatient people, waiting time, and awkward packages with the knowledge that none of it will last forever, and any conflict that arises is a result of your choice. (admittedly some of these circumstances are insanely hard).
5. Do not knowingly transport items that are injurious to others and expect to to be free of any conflict in or out traffic and feel good about yourself. Also, try to do things that benefit messengers, cyclists, people around you on the whole.
6. Get up and at 'em - no matter what the weather is like, or else you're headed for conflict in or out of traffic (and in fact, you're a wannabe).
7. When off the bike keep as free an attitude about anything with anyone as you can. This kind of mindfulness can benefit your experience on the bike, free of conflict when in of traffic.
8. When on the bike be as focused on space, speed and objects as you can, with little or no thought towards anything else. This kind of concentration can carry over into your experience off the bike, and free you from conflict outside of traffic.


1. have Due respect for other couriers and messengers
2. Thank clients for their business each pickup and also receiver on delivery
3. Observe the rules of the road as much as you can
4. Treat each tag with equal importance
5. Answer tourism / bicycle questions with accuracy and be friendly
6. Support local business first when you eat, shop etc.
7. Be an advocate for cycling in general and volunteer in the community
8. Treat your bike well
9. Treat your body even better
10. Look for and implement innovative ways to make our occupation forever sustainable keeping employed and earning a decent wage for a hard days work.


Post #9 Pat Angel (Australia) wrote on December 31, 2007 at 8:13pm

Number One: EVERY car driver is an arsehole who is TRYING to kill you. Think of everyone like that. I know its not true, but wasting time trying to work who is and isn't an arsehole is a waste of time... and the arsehole might run you down whilst you are contemplating if another driver is cool.

Number two: Stop for cars, not lights... Applicable only if you wanna be fast!

Number three: Don't just respect your operator, be mates with 'em. Respect stops them sending you crap work, be mates and they send you the cream!

Number four: Always smile and be friendly with the clients - There are other courier companies out there, piss off the client and they can take their work elsewhere. They are the ones who pay you, not your boss. The boss is just the middle man in the money chain.

Number five: As well as your toolkit, puncture repair kit and pump, carry a spare tube. Too many times I have blown out the rear tube irrepairably. A patch won't fix an inch long split.

Number six: What goes around comes around... You're just cruising and you meet a mate at a lift, they are really, really busy and are doing a drop. Take their package and do the drop for them. The time will come where the tables are turned and they'll do it for you.

Number seven: Keep your water bottle on your bag, not on your bike. Drink between your bike and the pick up/drop, do nothing but ride on your bike (yeah, and acknowledge new jobs etc). Refill your bottle every chance you get, even if it is still 7/8's full.

Number eight: Keep your lock key hanging from a bracelet, just the right length to fall into your fingers ready for unlocking, and it makes a great stylus for your touch screen PDA. Fishing through your pockets for the key dozens and dozens of times a day sux. Make the bracelet from an old chain. It never breaks, its in keeping with the life and it looks cool!

Number nine: Remember its a lifestyle, not a job. You have to LOVE riding; you won't makeif it's just a job. You'll be cold and wet or hot and sweaty for most of your life and the pay is not gonna make you rich... But you'll be part of one of the coolest sub cultures ever whilst being paid to have heaps of fun. Bloody hard work, but heaps of fun. Always someone to have a beer with after work too, and don't those beers go down well! And the parties, the alleycats, the laughs...etc

Number ten: Do it properly - RIDE A BMX! (lol)

Live to Ride
Ride to Work
Work to Eat
Eat to Live
Live to Ride


Sunday, December 14, 2008


So last week i'm working, and rushing around downtown, being the human pinball that i tend to be. As i'm northbound on Kearny street, I get the word that our client at 603 Commercial is spitting out some work. Having just picked up the 663 Clay -> Grant daily job, i was right there to get the commercial. (Oh - and i'm also holding one for Oyster Point Blvd, south of Candlestick. We had 6 bikes n the board, so we were ready to go as far as Brisbane/So. SF, and Sausalito too.)

So, i'm turning right onto commercial, and this guy is pulling something out of the back of his pick-up. What ever it was it was long and cylindrical and was in the right place at the wrong time to snag my helmet as i'm banking 'round the corner. It glanced enough off my brain bucket to knock me down and leave a little mark on my helmet. Thankfully, no damage to rider, but i was foggy and at the time we were really starting to get busy. So for the next few stops i'm being almost tentative, and somehow let it out that i fell and was foggy, and i'm going to pop into walgreens for some ibuprofin. It was one those those "if i'm not thinking properly now, here's why:" moments.

So 54 proposes that he take the Oyster Point blvd and i keep bouncing around the Loop (dwntwn in Chicago-speak). I"m cool with that - as much as i would have loved to stretch my legs out, at that point i was in a zone downtown.

Long story short - the fall that i had (which got resolved quickly enough; i wasn't hurt, my bike was in relatively fine shape, and the guy felt horrible and threw me $20) led to me handing off the Oyster Point. If i hadn't handed off the Oyster Point, i wouldn't have been the guy to finish out the Clay -> Grant daily i had onboard. This is significant because:

As i'm breaking out on north bound Grant street, i'm riding by 101 Music (1414 Grant St., in North Beach). This guy is walking out of 101 Music, and has a male companion with him. in the few seconds it takes to ride past, something strikes me: That guy, from behind, looks like Carlos Santana. The hair, the hat, the shades. Then as i get past, i double-take and sure enough, it is Carlos.

I'm no fanboy - i don't seek autographs and would feel very awkward asking for one. But this guy is practically my guitar hero - i grew up with the tones of Santana, and i'm not talking about the Matchbox 30 collaborations. So i ride up, say "Mr. Santana i've been a huge fan and appreciating your music since i was a little kid - can i bother you for a quick picture?" And with that he was ultra-gracious, noticed i'm a messenger and told me to be careful out there. As quickly as i spotted him, i approached him and was gone just as quickly. He had no entourage, no limo waiting, just some dude who was nice enough to snap the pic.

So - if i didn't get hit and fall on my bike, i wouldn't have handed off the long board work i had, and i wouldn't have met my guitar hero.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Ah. more random bike messenger pix.

I rode with this on my back from the Icehouse (151 Union) to 444 Valley Drive in Brisbane. Fun!

The Gangway on Larkin north of Turk street

Laguna Honda Hospital, the 5th floor. this guy was just hanging out, couldn't decide on a book to drool on.

Stretching and waiting on Market Street.

Gay Marriage day has arrived in SF. So have the angry muslims.

The Statue.

My man Scotty Brah, and his bud Glenn. We were @ the Outside Lands festival, checking out radiohead. Scotty was one of the first cats i met when i moved here, he wasn't a messenger then, but joined up after we met. Great guy.

This guy was basking in the glory of being the only guy in a Kiss Costume at the Red Bull Soapbox Derby.

This is the What Cheer? Brigade. I got off BART and this gang was just setting up and taking off, marching thru the dankiest grungiest streets of west oakland. Notable because they played Deltron 3030's Memory Loss and i totally called it. Amazing.

Shit, we have work and i have to go get it. 3250 to 1010 on a one hour.

So how about i share with YOU.

I'm just going to post some random pics form various days of messengering. I'm that bored at the office. Beer can only help so much.

This is Fox at the Godspeed office a few weeks ago. I should run a caption contest to see who can come up with the funnest one-liner.

oh glorious work day

Ah, thank you Black Friday, for allowing me to sit unfettered, at the office, waiting for work with a frosty beverage in my hand at 11am.

Waiting. Wishing. Hoping. Cursing. Bleeding. Pooping. Eating. Waiting. Wishing. Rinse. Lather. Repeat.