Tuesday, April 29, 2008

advice.v2...

i've given out advice before but this time it's a bit different. the times are changing and kids are coming out to play. you've decided to become a bike messenger...well, there's a few things you need to know. im sure i'll forget to post a few other essential points but these are the ones i've come up with so far...

you won't make anything in your first month. just the nature of the business. some companies you sometimes end up paying more than you're making...doesn't make sense but you have to pay for radio, pager, insurance, uniform, and so on. you'll be a rookie so knowing the ins-n-outs of the city will be very foreign. first off, you have to gain the legs to make enough money to survive. as a starter, you'll be lucky to make 15 deliveries in one day. i find or have found that to make a sustainable living you want to be around 25 to 35 a day...not that easy. i know, i know...some of the vets laugh at this cause they are used to 60 runs a day but times have changed. work isn't what it used to be. also, you have to actually learn the city...you might think you know it but you don't. where's east south water, 180 stetson, ibm, cna, garland ct., financial, and so on...if you know the major streets downtown then it's easier but you still have to know the rest. you have to know the short-cuts...if im at 303 east wacker and need to get to 600 east grand then i head east on wack an take the lsd underpass north instead of heading back to michigan and make my way across that way. there's little things like that that will be key to making you a success out there. you have to know where messenger centers are at and which buildings have them...which buildings you have to check in through the dock and not the front doors. where you can and cannot take your bag. this all takes a while so making money in the first month just won't happen...sorry kids...only the strong survive.

do not try to be fast. sure, only the fastest messengers make more money but being a fast biker doesn't make you a fast messenger. at my old company there was a man we all called turtle...i believe his number was 628. he is the slowest fast messenger in history. i don't know how the man did it cause when i saw him ride he would literally be going about 8mph...wtf?! somehow at that speed he managed to rock out 40+ runs a day on a consistent basis. you don't have to be a quick biker to be an effective messenger...again, know your buildings, know the security, know your shortcuts, and it will all come together. sure going fast is fun and definitely helps in getting more work done but there's no need to blaze too much. steady flows always win out someone who is all over the place and panting and stuff.

always remember to take your radio or phone or whatever contraption your company provides. why? simple...how the hell are you going to communicate with your dispatcher if you don't have it. some buildings you'll need to drop your bag and cats forget to take their radios with them. they go and deliver but no ones around...now they have to go all the way back down to call the dispatch to notify of the situation. time has just been wasted and this job is all about time. any way you can save time is the best way to make more loot. plus, you don't want anyone stealing your radio...read the comments on the my last post for details.

security will be a bitch...not all the time but yes, it'll happen. messenger vs security has been an ongoing feud since the dawn of the first messenger. for some reason both services just won't get along. no big deal...smile or don't smile but don't be a jerk to security even if they are. i know that'll be hard but if you piss them off enough you'll get banned from the building. what does this mean...well, if you're not allowed in the building to pick up or drop off then thats money you cant make. no money equals an unhappy messenger...oh yeah, dispatchers get angry also because we lose the option of sending you in there.

try not to say no to jobs given to you. at times the package might be too big or the package is going way too far for you...do your best to take on the job. why? cause if you deny work then the dispatcher will label you as a nay sayer...if thats the case then you'll be looked over when more work comes along. i know thats sh*tty but dispatchers basically feed the hungry.

patience is a huge factor in the whole thing. if you last a month then hopefully you'll begin to see changes in your check(s). you have to be patient with your dispatcher, cars, security, cops, clients, messenger centers, and so on...it weighs heavy on people so do your best to keep a positive attitude...patience is key.

one last note, always wear a helmet. this job is super dangerous and, unfortunately, can lead to things not nice. stay protected out there...remember, after everything i've said...no package is worth your life. ride within your means...ride hard, ride safe...peace.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Fuckin' A.

You forgot a couple, since you're classier than I am, I'll take the liberty of saying them:

If you don't work, you don't make money. Don't whine about not making money and not getting work if you don't show up during the nasty days. If it's a weekday, you need a good reason for not working.

Very small minorities are screwing over the majority. Don't think since you do this job you can go around tagging every elevator you see. I haven't even been doing this long but I'm sick of kids coming along thinking they're badasses for their two months as a messer and ruining shit for us who are trying to make a living. Some security companies make their pain in the ass policies for a reason, don't be some rookie perpetuating shit.

If you can help it, avoid any company whose name rhymes with Pawn Lime...sorry, I know it's best not to mention companies at all but I just had to. It hurts seeing good people work so hard to keep that place going.

Peace
JP

j.dot said...

seriously...

Anonymous said...

Also, don't eat yellow snow.

Anonymous said...

Treat pedestrians with respect. REally

Anonymous said...

Is it OK to use a bike with brakes and gears or is that considered an insult to the messenger sub-culture?

Jeff said...

If you choose to ride hard, you'll be in the minority. If you do however, you need to ride within your ability and these are my steps for realizing your ability level.

1) I thought I was the stuff cutting through everything and tearing around so fast.

2) I had an accident or two and saw and HEARD so many ridiculous things and I realized I was the dumb-luckiest mofo in the world. I didn't see how I rode any different from the other guys until I was forced to actually think about it.

3) I was horrified and rode in fear until I gradually learned how many hazards there are out there and how I should work on approaching and expecting them. From there I learned how to CONTROL myself and my machine.

4) There will always be an opportunity for some freak thing to happen to you but be sure to reduce that risk as much as possible by constantly looking out and learning how this city moves. That's when you develop an ability level to ride hard day in and day out.

Corny. Blah. I think it's true. I just had an incident where a ped walked between stopped buses and I blindly ran into them. Sure they were jaywalking but I knew going into it that I was running that risk and I'll always blame myself. I won't blame them because I sure have had times when I don't look for bikes when walking between cars. You gotta look out for yourself and everyone else, learn how to do that and you will ride within your ability.

If you don't, you'll be wreckless and that is nothing you want as a label. You'll give us a bad name and it pisses everyone off. You can blend in and look the part all you want but a rookie wear's it all over him/her by how they ride. Be ready to humble yourself.

Oh and if you don't get a nod, realize that there's a reason for it. These guys have seen plenty of rooks come and go and it gets exhausting welcoming every new face. Also, most guys are focused on working and not getting a hello EVERY time they see you. Either that or you're riding your Blue on the street and they're just jealous...

Peace
JP

Jeff said...

....longest comment ever. I get way into this shit...

j.dot said...

when i first started there was plenty of gear'd bikes...lots of mountain bikes but definitely quite a few road bikes. if i remember correctly there was literally 7 track bikes on the street...what?! little by little messengers started making the switch to track bikes...why? cause we're f'n tired of having to clean out our gears and brakes...it gets annoying. much easier to maintain a track bike in chicago's sh*tty weather conditions.

pedestrians...well, yes, respect and look out for them. i think messengers have to look out for them even more cause pedestrians, for some reason, forget that messengers exist and believe it will be ok to run across the middle of the street. umm...i say look out for them maybe not so much respect just cause i believe in the ol' "give what you get" thing. unless its a super hot lady then respect as much as possible...sh*t, don't forget to ask for digits.

jeff...don't worry on the long posts. thats what this sh*ts for. i want cats to read about the daily grind and see what we/you deal with. maybe regular folks besides msngrs will read this and get more of a feel of things out there and maybe, just maybe, show a bit more respect...peace.

p.s. sorry for rocking the blue on the street. i know you cats think im silly for that but the davidson is no longer rideable...my back can't take it...and marcus had to good of a deal for me to pass up. please forgive me...this goes to all serious riders...please forgive my sillyness. in my defense, there was a messenger back in the day that would ride his kestrel's(thats right, plural) for work...wtf?!

Jeff said...

Puh-leeeeze. You can ride that blue in my face all day long, you know there's no zero problem with you rockin' it. If you're gonna actually use it you should treat yourself. I still haven't seen the "julio" customization on the downtube yet, that photo was hotttt.

Anonymous said...

Rude question-sorry. How much can a motivated beginning messenger expect to earn? I'm guessing it's something like $300/week?

j.dot said...

it's not rude to ask that...umm, it varies from msngr to msngr. like i said, don't expect to make much. being eager is definitely good but im serious when i say that the first month will be a struggel financially. i've seen cats make 300/week when they first start but i've also seen cats make 90/week when they first start. best advice i can tell you is just be ready and have a back-up plan...some msngrs do a second job and so on. i don't want to scare you...im just being honest...good luck.

Anonymous said...

well said, jp

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