Sunday, December 30, 2007


an interesting fact about working at a messenger company is that all, with the exception of maybe two, companies go through a phases of good messengers and so-so messengers. you can go half the year with a really good crew and the second half with a crew that at least shows up.

i see this transition happening for me in the very near future. its not really the way i want to start off the new year, especially cause of the whole tax season but i guess i'll just have to deal with what i got. its not that the cats i have right now are bad its just that some of them are rookies, which means you have to constantly keep tabs on them, make sure you route them, and try not to overload them to much. the rest of the crew is compiled by hard workers but older and not as fast. age doesn't have much to do with speed cause i've had the pleasure of working with older riders who rock out but with this crew the age definitely shows, especially in cold weather.

the main reason for the transition is losing your good riders. 6653 has decided to go back to school. for some reason he has it in his head that he's better off with an education...good for him. alot of my riders deserve better than what the streets offer so i hope things go well with him. the downside is that i miss out on a guy who can rock out 40 or so runs a day without blinking. not only that, the man has asthma...its crazy. he would show up and sometimes would have to take breaks cause the weather would affect his breathing. even through this he would still be very dependable...he also would not deny car work. distance or weight would not be a factor...he will be missed.

we lost 6682 not too long ago because he found a teaching oppurtunity in argentina. im sure it'll be a great experience for him and he's moving on from messengering but he is definitely missed by us all in the office. he never was down and out...he always had a smile on his face and would never deny work. there were plenty of times when i had to send him on super nasty runs...distance, weight, or several pick ups out of the john hancock(freight elevator is horrible) and he would just reply...10-4 or no problem.

about a week ago we lost 6674...he was a bit crazy but good. there were times when he would forget to pick up packages. there were times when he routed himself completely wrong which would cost packages being late and, more important, waist alot of energy and killing his legs. i know it sounds like im complaining about him but even though he needed to just take deep breaths and relax he rocked out a huge amount of work. he had a drop at 33 W Monroe...freight there can sometimes be a pain but not as bad as other buildings. we were not aware that the package he had was supposed to be a roundtrip. he gets to the drop and is waiting for a signature...he's holding about three more so waiting is beginning to piss him off, as well as, me. he finally gets the signature but...

6674...hey julio? you got a sig yet?

6674...yeah i got it but expect a phone call. the dude up there was an asshole. completely ruined my day., well...dont worry about it. if they call we'll deal with it but for now i need you to keep rolling.

he keeps working and i get the phone call. apparently some words were exchanged between 6674 and the client. i wish he would've never said anything cause i got him his waiting time so he was getting paid extra and i bought us time on his other packages. either way...things were said and not much more i can do. now he had to come in and explain his story and, according to company rules, he had to take a drug test. test came back positive and he was let go...fuck.

im glad i at least have a crew that will show up and do the best they can. i know they are trying hard and its very difficult to move in the winter but there out there. now i just sit and wait to see when the next phase will happen and what kind of riders i get...peace.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


people are constantly asking me for advice about becoming a big deal. im sure alot of messengers/dispatchers get asked all the time about what the job is like and so on. the following e-mails took place not to long ago...

hello sir,

you don't know me, but i am somehow under the impression that you can give me helpful advice. i have been thinking about messengering, but i'm not sure if it will make me hate riding my bicycle. i know i can bike all day, and i know i can bike in the cold. i'm not sure if i can bike all day in the cold. i don't know the loop particularly well, but being a messenger seems like a damn fine way to remedy that.

pls advise, kthx.

this wasnt a big deal...normally i try and convince people to not do it at all. it's not that the industry is a complete sh*t-hole but it can break people down. anyway, i decided to be helpful(my comments)...

not sure what to much money will you need to survive? can you do full time? biking in the winter can be very, very, very difficult but for a first timer in can also be fun. most cats like doing a winter and are ok with it. umm...the winter is ok you just have to remember to keep three points of exit warm...hands, head, feet. if you could do that then you'll be alright. the winter time is constantly busy and its the season you'll make the most money in. for a first timer you're usually better off starting in the spring time or fall...that way you get a taste of cold weather but not freezing weather and you ease your legs into getting use to the miles you'll ride. i did it for two years straight and then about three years for winters and summers...i had to stop and dispatch cause i was really starting to hate my bike. those who cant do...teach.

most companies need full-time cats so part-time might be a little difficult but there are exceptions. you wont make shit your first month or so cause you'll still be learning the streets and the know, shortcuts, security, msngr cntrs, lights, stops, sidewalks, and so on. it can be hard but if you put your time in then you'll make a liveable wage.

i hate giving advice unless im drunk and then im just telling everyone to not do it...much easier. i know i'll read this over and over wanting to edit things out or in. it can be can be shitty...Godspeed.

at this point i have no idea where the conversation might go. alot of people keep asking about the industry, some just ask one more question, and others just dont continue. the person i was communicating responds with...

i don't actually need to make money; i'm still finishing up school (taking the winter quarter, january-march off) and my parents help me out a lot. they'd probably be happier if i could pay my own rent, which isn't too bad. so yeah, money isn't really my concern; it's more the hating my bike (that you mentioned).

i'm not in my peak summer shape anymore, but i'm pretty confident i can still bike all day long, especially since this shit is flat.

as for cold, i'm a bikewinter evangelist! though on longer rides, or slower rides like CCM, i definitely get cold after a while. especially my feet. though couriers are inside buildings pretty frequently, so that might be sufficient opportunity to warm up.

i CAN do full time. i was thinking it might be easier to at least start out part-time, though, until i know my way around and feel more confident about things. and fewer hours might be preferable when it's assy out, too. i figure if i ever get up the guts to fill out an application, i'll be straight with my potential employer about that, and see what they say/need.

i have been wanting to try it out for a while now, but have kind of been scared. i guess i should suck it up and try it; i'll never know unless i give it a shot, eh?

you got to be f'n kidding don't really need the money? then why bother? i felt like the person completely wasted my time. i didn't know what to do or respond...if she/he doesn't need the money then its best they dont even try it. my response...

cats are constantly coming and going. its not unheard of to have people such as yourself to work as a messenger but dont really need to. its hard, very hard, to make money in this industry and you would just be taking up a spot for someone who actually needs the money. also, you would be taking money from those already at the company that would take you in. not good.

one more cut down on the hours when its assy out is definitely a no-no. any good messenger knows that all the money is made in shitty weather...peace.

i should mention that if bike related jobs is what you're looking for i would look to the cbf(chicago bicycle federation)...definitely good. good luck.

cats come and go all the time...the industry has one of the highest turnover percentages. i felt bad telling her/he not to even bother but i know i did the right thing? i know there's alot of people that just do certain jobs because they actually love it and dont care about the money but in the messenger field money is a huge problem. people already working as a bicycle messenger are constantly at struggle with trying to figure out ways to bring more money into the industry. messengers are living check to check...there aren't many that do it just cause. i would say that in my experience 99.9% or messengers need to make money. food, shelter, family, school, or so on...whatever the case, there isn't too much room for those just looking for a hobby...peace.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

i lost the package...

christmas eve...we're still open because you never know what might happen. the car dispatch has alot more work than bike dispatch cause of people wanting to deliver last minute gifts and whatnot. i leave early...about two o'clock or so. meanwhile, the entire time im around there is a total of about four runs. alot of guys show up...not so much cause of the possiblity of working but because they want to see if they will be able to squeeze out some holiday pay. i've been working at this company for about three months so im still not sure how the holiday pay works for the riders but its still nice to hear that they will get something for at least showing up. the good story. 6689 shows up a bit late but nothing crazy. either way this doesn't matter much cause of how slow it is. i give him one coming out of the office because we dropped the ball on it on friday(not sure on the details) and he was the closest option...even though we are slow its a pain in the ass to have to come all the way to base to just have to head back out. anyway...the following takes place...

6689...say, julio? up kid?

6689...i got hit by a car and flipped over my bars. im ok but i've been looking for the package for the last 20 minutes and its not in my bag., what? are you okay? you sure you dont need anything?

6689...yeah, im good. the guy hit me but took off on me. not much i can do. what should i do about the package? me a second.

i talk it over with the managers and they start to panic. not once did they ask me if the 6689 was ok. at this point i got to bring 6689 to talk to those in charge as well as fill out an accident report. the report also consists of a drug test that needs to be taken within 24 hours. the drug test is for insurance purposes and to protect the company. not a big deal...or at least i would like to think so.

6689...say, julio? up? you getting close to base? the managers want to talk with you...

6689...yeah, im close. i figured out what happened...there's a giant hole in my bag.

apparently when 6689 flipped over his bars his bag ripped up on the pavement causing the hole and losing the package. not much we can do at this point. all is forgiving with the messenger...after all, its not his fault some jerk hit him. the package was lost, we call the company and apologize. now its time to make sure this company is treated nice for at least a month until the next accident. its a never ending cycle. im just glad that although the packages are super important in our industry, i ask if the messenger is ok first...package second.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

new years eve...

come one, come more party, many more to come...


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

old faces...

when the days get hectic in can very difficult to get a hold of messengers. they are constantly on the go...the last thing they want to do is reach for the radio. just like us all they are thinking about is cleaning up. some guys are easier than others to get a hold of becaue of radio postion on the bag or because they are not afraid to talk and ride or...well, just cause. others...not so much. some guys keep their radio in the pocket which means it take forever for them to hear us. some cant talk becuase they may be in front of the client. some just cant hear us because of static or lack of signal. some forget their phone with their bag when checking in with buildings and some...well, just dont want to talk.

6464 has been around for a while. he's definitely a vet so special treatment is fine by me but its hard to hook up the work if you dont pick up the phone at all. he randomly calls in to let us know his location and the fact that he's clean. when i say randomly i mean exactly what i sounds never know from where he will call and you never know when he is gonna call. if its busy you can try and get a hold of him to see where he might be but you might be better off wating it out.

6365 will turn his phone off throughout the day. you never know when it will happen. he blames it on the phone day in and day out but there's only so much technology blamming you can do. he always has a smile on his face and is a super nice guy but i do remember him from the days that i use to work bitching about the lack of work. i would imagine this hasn't stopped but why bitch?

there is plenty of work to be done...every once in a while we get slow but not right now. why not just keep rocking and if you need a break just let me/us know...i have no problems giving a break here and there as long as it means you will give me your A game...whatever that may be.

on a unrelated note, i went downtown on monday to do some shopping. the minute i got off the car i bumped into a few old faces. taral or turtle...also, known as the fastest slowest messenger in chicago. always great to see that cat. he use to bring me a 40 at the end of the work week...nothing like going into the weekend with a buzz. i bumped into big steve...for some odd reason i always yell out STEVE! and he replies, WATUP JULIO! thats other words are ever exchanged. weird but cool.

last but not least...bumped into aaron. one of toughest cats i know. the man got testicular cancer and survived. during his sessions at the hospital for his condition he would keep rocking out. some days he would show up late, some he would leave early, and some he wouldn't. the fact that he even made an effort is beyond me...the kid has alot of heart. he's much better now, physically and still continues to rock out the runs. one of fastest cats and great guys i've had the pleasure of working with.

at the end of it's good to know that respect still continues...peace.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

three day weekend...

so they got me working every other saturday which means every other monday i have off cause of the whole overtime thing. friday was crazy...lots and lots of work. the car board was running about an hour or more behind. the bike board was running about 30 to an hour behind. i got to dispatch pretty much the entire crew which was nice cause i could figure out better routes and what not. i would load most guys up with five at a time and let them loose. called each guy every ten minutes to check on their location to see if i could reroute to pick other packages up. it was one of those days where you basically want to just pick up and worry about the drops later. most clients forget about their packages once its out of sight... pick up and call me. i'll let you know the order i need them dropped.

i had to tell many of my guys the exact way i wanted them to drop mainly because i wanted to keep better track of where they would be in case of super emergencies. anyway...after a long friday its nice to know you have a three day weekend coming. im happy with my guys who came through for me on friday. very, very few clients called to complain about biked orders. not sure how it happens some days but when the flow is right no matter how silly the day is everyone is happy, even in miserable weather...peace.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

misery loves company...

all day today was miserable. work was steady but the weather conditions were horrible enough to make the day very long. from the minute i woke up to the moment i left it was still raining. the rain itself is annoying but you throw in slush, cold weather, chicago wind and the day turns into a complete disaster. not too many orders got done on time today but i did not bother to try and make my guys hustle out a bit more...they had enough to deal with.

6682 quit...6653 and 6688 called in sick, sounded legit...6674 disappeared. 6674 said he lost his i.d. and his state i.d. so he could not access buildings anymore. he asked me to get a new work i.d. printed and he would show up and keep problem. got the i.d. and waited...waited some more...then kept waiting. i tried calling him but his phone was off...he said he was frustrated and pissed off at the day so i am assuming that he decided to just call it a day. i couldn't afford to lose him but there wasn't much i could do.

1168 called me just to say hello. he was working with the other bike dispatcher today. that was super nice especially in a day when everyone is pissed off.

i gotta say...not sure if its nice of me to say that messengers/dispatchers are miserable but with all the complaining we do, today was appropriate. misery definitely loves company...peace.

Saturday, December 8, 2007


well...times are changing. the weather is getting wet and cold...the true soldiers will come out and play. from now until about mid-march messengers will start quitting, showing up late, taking more days off, or just rocking out. either way, this is when a stronger bond among each other begins. at our old company we never did anything for the messengers as an incentive to come out when its freezing and snowing or raining. the most i could convince the company to do was offer coffee to messengers in the actually worked. alot of guys showed up early to enjoy a cup of coffee and a cigarette before the madness. it amazed me how something that simple goes a long way.

at the new company they offer a bit more than coffee. arrow has messenger centers throughout chicago...not sure how many buildings they own but its spread out north and south. this means that when a messenger cleans up they have the option of trying to warm up at these centers. the centers have hot chocolate and hand/feet cool is that. alot of people complain about this company cause of the strict uniform rule and a few other things but this is just a nice thing to do. they also, on very nasty days, offer an extra dollar per package. it may not sound like much but it can add up. if you rock out 30 runs you get paid whatever you made plus the extra 30 bucks...amazing. not sure how they decide what weather conditions would be suitable for the extra money but believe me when i say that i try my best to get that extra dollar everyday the weather is 30 or below.

messengers also dont have to come to base for anything...they can get direct deposit so they dont have to pick up their check...they can drop their log sheets at 131 south dearborn, a messenger center for arrow...they can fax in their log sheets...the only time they would have to come in is to fill out vacation forms, time off request sheets, meetings, and so on. its not that the base is way out of the way, its actually on the way home for many, but its nice to not have to stop by base.

one more thing...every once in a while arrow buys popeyes for their crew. thats right, i said POPEYES...peace.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

go fast...

this lady kept calling because she was placing an order through the internet but wanted to know what the fastest service would be. we kept going back and forth and after about 15-20 mins we figured out that all she needed was a bike messenger to go from 195 N Harbor to 321 N Clark on a solo...the solo is our fastest service, 30 minutes. so, we've wasted time on this super hot package trying to figure out what she wanted then she hangs up and places the order as a car solos i believe run about 45 minutes in the loop(i think). she calls back and we're at it again...back and forth for about another 10-15 minutes and she FINALLY realizes the bike solo is definitely the way to go. she hangs up and places the order through the internet again. in her instructions she types out, "GO FAST...PLACE TWO ENVELOPES IN BAG"...what? go fast? are you kidding me? you placed it on the solo service which means i will dispatch to next available messenger...he/she will do what they can to get the package done within the 30 minute window. the lady doesn't realize that there's a snow storm outside...its icy, windy, wet, and so on.

she also doesn't realize that harbor is way up the hill on east randolph and that 321 clark has a pretty slow freight(depending on the day). i let all that slide and i make the call..., 4-6

6646...what up? got a super hot solo up the hill for you. the lady requested our fastest messenger and i thought of you. she also said to..."GO FAST"...

6646...well, i guess i better do my best then...umm, where is harbor?

i couldn't stop laughing...where is harbor? priceless. anyway, the job got done on time and everyone was happy. i just think its funny that people dont mind us bending the know, red lights, pedestrians, sidewalks, stop signs, and so long as we "GO FAST".

Monday, December 3, 2007

they are all just numbers...

no matter what company you work for there has always been a high turnover in the bicycle messenger industry. i've seen many come and go and i've only worked for two companies so far. some last one hour, one week, one month, one year, and so on...not too many stay put in one company. there are some exceptions...fourstar or service first...for the most part, all other companies see many come and go. in the last few months working at standard courier we had a young lady come in and get a job...she did pretty well, especially considering she was a rookie. she quit after about two weeks. about a month after i started the new job at arrow i saw her come in and get the job...again, she quit after about two weeks. not really sure why some people do got in, why not give it a try. the worst part of the whole thing is that all the moving around destroys the industry...the more messengers are unreliable the less respect they get. not saying that this is what happens in all situations but it does happen to often...not only that, it definitely makes my job harder. i count on these cats to show up and rock out for me but then about an hour after im sitting comfortably in my seat i get the notification..."6670 quit today". now im a person short and didn't get enough notice to cover the spot. i do get regulars...6637, 6653, 6645, 6589(no matter how much of a jerk he is), 6665, and others show up. some may show up much later than they should but, at this point, at least they show up?

like i tell a bunch of my cats are all numbers to me, after work you are fabian, ryan, taral, aaron, and you get the idea...peace.