Sunday, November 30, 2008

only one way in...

some people may or may not know that president-elect obama has his transition headquarters located at 230 south dearborn. there's been an increase in security because of it...not a big deal. messengers are used to dealing with security so this is just an extra annoying step but a very understandable annoying step.

well...we have a client call in a package going to one of the people on the team obama is building. pretty exciting...right?! i send 1168 to take care of the situation...not because he's good or is a vet and knows how things work but because he's a block away from the pick...ha! he gets to the drop and...

1168...six-eight. up?

1168...this package is undeliverable., okaaay. want to tell me more info?

1168...well, this man at security, also known as the fbi has graciously notified me that the only way this is getting up to those floors is through the united states postal service. i'll give the client a call and let them know it's coming back to them.

...the package goes from being a one-way to being a round trip. more money for the messenger. as a side note, it's good to see that the president-elect and his crew have faith in the u.s.p.s...especially in chicago. our mail in the city is known as some of the worst mailing facilities in the nation...ha! should have seen the fbi agent. the man looked like urlacher but bigger.


why should i?

we were sort of busy on the car board but the bike board was lacking a bit of work...i decided to see if we could help them out. not a big deal...we do stuff like that all the time. the car board cleans up and the bikers make more loot. it's a win-win...sort of. anyway, i notice an order piece at eleven pounds. it's coming out of 190 south lasalle and going to 230 south clark...too easy, right? it's only a couple blocks. i call up twenty-one. he's always down for car work and i know the man can handle boxes...

6721...twenty-one. up?

6721...alright, first of all i've been here for like 28 minutes. the messenger center people are rookies and didn't know what to do. second of all, when i finally was escorted up the 1 piece turned into 3 pieces. not only that...there's no way this is 11 pounds. it's more like 100 pounds. umm...i got them, i'll carry them over...! sure you're good? i'll switch it all up for you. i got you on the time and weight and stuff. it's up to you.

...he ends up carrying about 100 pounds to it's destination. when he gets there they notify him that the company moved to another building another block! i know it's just one more block but carrying 100 pounds cannot be fun. so now i have to get him the add stop charge...wrong address means more loot. this order is beginning to shape up pretty profitable for the messenger but he's working alot for the money.

we call up the people sending the order out to notify them of everything...the waiting, the weight, and the wrong address. then the old "why should i pay for car service if you sent a biker?" argument breaks out. this is not good. the client is angry that they are being charged for a car service...completely understandable but...well, it's the way it goes.

first off...the biker still needs to be paid for doing the job. are we gonna charge a bike rate for a 100 pound package?! hell no!! thats ridiculous. what if the client calls in a bike order but the bike board is slammed so we get a driver to take care of a few orders? do we then switch the bike rate to a car rate because we sent a car?! nope. also, if thats the case...the bike board would never help the car board and there's no way we as a whole would hit our numbers/percentages.

it took some convincing but in the end the client understood and the packages were delivered safely. our drivers are good but i've always trusted my crew of bikers to get the job done better and more efficiently. im glad twenty-one got the job done and more paid.

Monday, November 24, 2008


i was not in attendance...i apologize. most cats know that i usually say i'll show up and then bounce but i honestly did want to make it to this race in particular. even in my absence the organizers were able to put on a great race...

words from brean...

i counted 48 racers who returned to the finish at adam's garage (thanks again to adam and the cuttin' crew!). a few more people stopped by the party and donated food and money. we raised $90 for the track cats and donated $748.52 worth of food to sister mary of the gospel. she said that god was happy about that, and that all you kids are good people.

the winner of the coveted dan mariner most generous award: padraic spent $56.58. he wins a sweet backpack and $56.58. another person spent $87.42 but didn't go to all the stores.

kevin clark won the race part, in a photo finish with adam h. whiskey chris(what a good guy) came in at third overall. allison p. and christina p. took fourth and fifth overall, and first and second women. emily w. showed her love of active transportation by seizing third place in the women's category.

race report from the winner...

I wont say I was nervous about Cranksgiving as much as I was apprehensive. I hadn't done an alleycat in almost a year. I had actually written the race off before I even started – I just wanted to do my part by donating some food and having a little fun. I rolled up to Navy Pier and saw Andrew right away. I proclaimed my disinterest in the race to him. We started talking about 'cross racing the next day and that made it worse. But, when I got to the line I felt better. I even had a premonition of where the 1st checkpoint Brean was to send us would be. He confirmed my suspicions and said GO! At that point all bets were off.

kevin of team half by treesquirrel...

I really didn't want to be too much of a jerk or too unsafe, but I did ride the wrong way down Illinois until McClurg. There I took N. Water under everything and popped up at Kinzie and State. The first store was my old Dominick's at Roosevelt and Canal, so I pushed south on State and made my 2nd "move," which was to ride west in the eastbound bikelane on Roosevelt. This helped me with my left onto Canal and it's also where I converged with a bunch of the other leaders.

Then came my first miscue. There's a gate at the southeastern most point of the parking lot, but it was locked! I hustled back and was in and out pretty fast after that. Upon leaving I saw kids hopping the (tall) gate. Whatever. Once I was south on Canal I thought I was by myself. I kinda eased up on pushing it into the wind here, but by the time I was east on 26th someone had my wheel.

I pulled Adam into the next checkpoint at 35th and King. We both got the same stuff and exited at the same time. Up to this point we were able to leave our bikes in the watch of Salvation Army ringers. I guess he was "bribing" some of them, but I wasn't able to pick up on that at the time.

He and I rode together north on the Drive till it became Cermak to a right on Clark. There we were able to go under Roosevelt and we would take that to Harrison and under the Congress via Franklin. We also had a tailwind at this time and we were cooking. Over the river on Randolph. A half block of Milwaukee on an angle. Fulton, then north on Des Plaines and we were at that new Jewel on top of the Kinzie "hill."

This is were things shook up. There was no one from the Salvation Army (too close to HQ just up the block?). I locked up here but Adam did not. We were both able to get through fast as it was not crowded at all, but by the time I had unlocked and was rolling on Milwaukee towards Ashland he was out of sight.

I was only caught up on MKE at the Augusta off-ramp. When I got to the "Wicker Park Jewel" Adam was there trying to convince a store employee not to let me in via the exit only door. I freelocked here but he had taken his bike in the store with him again. We had to get cookies and there were conveniently located Cakesters right by the self-checkout! (Un-breakable and delicious?) We both got the same things but he was out well before me. He also left his gloves at checkout and I kindly returned them to him (what a guy)! But, I had to take the chain off and put it back around my waist while he sped off.

I was able to catch both the Milwaukee and Division lights when I was south on Ashland, so that helped. By the time I was west on Chicago I could faintly see him. This is where I started gunning it. This is also where I'm pretty sure I ran the only red of the night at Damen. It must've just turned against my favor so I gritted my teeth and "excused" my way across. To get back up and spinning hurt the legs a little, but he and I arrived at the final store at the same time.

Again, Adam decided to forgo locking; leaving his badass LOOK leaning against a wall at Chicago and Western. "To each their own," I thought. I locked up and was able to locate the necessary item before him. At the counter I declared that it was going to be a "sprint for the finish and he agreed," but… because his bike was (thankfully) still there right outside the door and I still had to unlock mine, he was off and getting away.

I gave whatever I had left getting south to Grand as fast as I could. I wasn't going to make the light so I swerved left thorough the liquor store parking lot on the corner. Then I leaned into a hard right onto Oakley and a left for the finish on Hubbard. I wasn't expecting to see Adam in front of me there but I did. He got to the front of the building at least a hundred yards in front of me but was confused as to where the door was. This is where I swept in and opened it first; providing Brean w/ my manifest and opening my bag to display the food items.

adam of team beer'd...

I have to give Adam props; that was a great race. I think his bike is a bit nicer than mine (the wheels are for sure). I would've locked that sh*t up every time! But enough about the race. The real story should be about how Brean and Val and others organized a race for a good and tangible cause (nuns were at the party). And to all the others that came out just to give something back. And to how this proves I could've been one of the greatest messengers ever! Just kidding… don't hate me!

how the hell did you people let a sox fan win?! this is outrageous!! not only that...he isn't even a!!

all kidding aside, good job to everyone who was there. good job to the race organizers brean and val. from what it sounds like...the whole event was a huge success and even was fun. don't forget...the december irosprints are coming up and thats for a good cause also...messengers!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

some good people...

well...after posting all the sillyness with the hit-n-run i get a some good news...first, i might be able to get my hands on a bike for phillip. the man needs to get back on the street and make his loot. second...there's an irosprints(goldsprints) series for the month of december and it benefits the bicycle emergency fund...

IRO Sprints - Cobra Lounge- Mondays in December 2008 from Matthew on Vimeo.
six main facts about the irosprints...

1) Each night will have slightly different rules, but the rules will
not be different enough to affect your time
2) On one night there will be team relays, 2v2.
3) On one night there will be a guitarist playing speed metal while you race.
4) There will be a frame given away to the overall fastest time, male and female.
5) There will be a tournament each night for the other prizes.\
6) all proceeds go to benefit the Bicycle Messenger Emergency fund

this will hopefully bring some fun to these cold winter days. have i mentioned it's been getting really, really cold here in chicago? high 30's is no cake walk...peace.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

some info...

alright...i posted a couple days ago about a messenger getting hit. although i have spoken to the people that work for the company the details are still somewhat uncertain. he did show up to work he walking? yes. is he ok? nope. he's walking around with a mask covering his mouth cause it's pretty f*cked up and he's a bit embarrassed by it...understandable.

his name is phillip jordan. super cool cat. i can't remember if he started when i was still messengering or if he came in as i transitioned into dispatch. what i do remember is that the man is cool people. always was upbeat and nothing got him down. i remember dispatching him and watching the man get faster and faster. he would show up every day and just work. never complained. im sure there were times he did want to but it never showed and he never did. like i said...always upbeat. even now, after the accident he shows up to his base, and although still hurting, tries to figure out a way to come back to!

not sure if he only needs wheels or a bike but i will do my best to provide him with the loot to get what he needs to get back out there. he never road anything fancy or crazy expensive...always comfortable beater bikes. im sure i/we can dig something up for him. if anyone has anything laying around...hit me he's about 5'9" or so.

like i still shady on the details but i know it happened on lower wacker involving a cab and a limo...both were gone after the accident. hit-n-run at it's finest...f*ck! even then...phillip is upbeat...peace.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

cranksgiving '08...

details from brean...

If you're not familiar with this race, it takes place the weekend before Thanksgiving. There's no registration fee, but you're going to need to bring cash with you, because the checkpoints are all grocery stores. At these grocery stores, you're going to have to leave your bike outside, run in, and purchase a specified food item. A bag & a lock is absolutely essential! Once you've collected all of the food items and have finished the race, we do a group ride to drop off all of our donations. Keep all of your receipts, because I'm going to check them to make sure you made it to each of the checkpoints.

God willing, we will again be donating our food to Fraternite Notre Dame, a society of charitable french nuns who help needy people in Chicagao and around the world. The nuns really appreciate our donations and rely upon them to plan and make their holiday meals for those in need.

Therefore, food must be brought back in useable and presentable condition. I am reall strict about this.

Also, you must have receipts. I pick stores that time stamp and itemize their receipts, and I check them all. No stealing.

No working with others, eiither. This is an individual event. You must go in and buy your own stuff, and you may not have someone watching your bike.

a normal bag should do for the minimum amount. i work with Sister Mary of the Gospel in putting together a menu that is manageable. i also try to give the racers a vegan option.

i am trying to make it so that you will be able to drop off food at the afterparty or to the sisters. i am not yet sure if they will be meeting us with a van at the afterparty or at another location.

i consider cranksgiving to be a true alleycat (it was designed by tone, a messenger in new york, in the 90's to be an alleycat event in which messengers could feel good about giving. as the number of messengers declined, tone opened up the event to "civilians.") so, in keeping with that spirit, you will not know the distance of the race. it will be a mystery even as you start the race. but don't worry. it will be between 3 and 53 miles long.

even though cranksgiving is not focused on messengers anymore, you are still going to have to think and act like a messenger. you will have to plan your route on the go, you will have to think fast while you deal with clueless people (and you should be polite as possible), and you will have to be safe --messengers know their limits or they don't last long.

it's a real race, but you don't have to be overly competitive in it. it's for charity. you are doing good by participating. winning should be third on the list of priorities (safety, charity, winning). the prizes aren't that great, anyway. look at the flyer --do you see any sponsors?

but, within the bounds of safety and charity, be as competitive as you feel safe with. here's a story: at the 2005 cranksgiving, andy white came in first, and i followed seconds later, with ken coming in a few seconds behind me. then ken handed andy the sack of potatoes he had dropped while unlocking his bike. if ken hadn't stopped to pick up the potatoes, andy would have been dq'd, and ken would probably have beaten me and won the whole thing.

don't be ken.

see you cats there...rain, shine, or hungover...peace.

Friday, November 14, 2008

shady on the details...

yesterday a messenger from standard courier got hit. not sure on the details as to how or what happened. from what i hear is that he was involved in a hit-n-run with a limo on lower wacker. not sure how true that is...what is true is that the man is in the hospital. what hospital? still waiting to hear on that. from my understanding the accident was a bit more serious than expected...the messengers face is messed up. not sure what that means either but i know it's not good. there was blood everywhere and apparently he may have broken vertabrea...holy sh*t!!

i don't know the messengers number but his name is phillip. lets keep him in our prayers and as soon as i hear anything i'll let everyone know...peace.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

keep it to yourself...

it was already after 1700 when we heard a city board messenger call...meaning driver... i just got hit by a biker.

car dispatch...what?!

driver...not me personally but this biker just scrapped the side of my car and took my mirror off.

...the first thought i had was maybe it was another case of biker versus driver and the biker took his frustrations out. this wasn't the case. the biker was a food delivery messenger working late. no big deal except for the fact that he was apparently riding like a maniac. i know, i know...i just got done posting about how messengers ride crazy cause of specific circumstances but i just didn't think the same would go for food delivery...unless im wrong? i would imagine that taking it light would be better so that food doesn't get ruined...again, i might be wrong so please, don't hesitate to correct me. also, this story comes from one of our drivers...he's a good guy but not sure how exaggerated the story may or may not be.

in any case...they discussed this story the next day when the driver came into base to fill out a report with HR. no big was crazy to hear that he got over $1700.oo in damage to his car by a! btw, the biker was fine according to the driver. obviously hurt but ok..."he was just sitting there stunned more than anything". they go on and on...

driver...i don't get it. some of these guys are quick to want to get life over with.

car dispatch...yeah. some of them ride crazy. just gotta be careful.

driver...i know. what am i supposed to do. these guys can get hurt or even die.

car dispatch...some of them do.

...then, one of the suburban dispatchers says, right under his breath..."not enough". wtf?!?! i could not believe the man just said that. i wanted to get up and just start beating on him till my hands went numb and then start kicking him till i couldn't walk. i turn around and look at him... did you just say?

sub.dispatch...(with a smirk on his face)oh, did i say that out loud? did. do me a favor, keep those type of comments to yourself.

...after that we didn't speak another word to each other. sh*t, even the next day we didn't. i wonder what today will bring. im sure it'll blow over but im still kinda pissed off at him for the comment. im all for joking around but the man was being serious and that f*cking smirk just made me want to beat the living sh*t out of him. i damn near walked outside to smart smoking again. luckily i went to my other bad habbit and pounded a diet pop...ha!

like i sure everything will be fine, just a bit annoyed by the statement is all. also, don't applaud the no smoking thing...sure i have a month and 2 days under my belt but it's also about the 9th time i quit this year. f* i feel like smoking...peace.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

random thought...

when i used to work as a bicycle messenger i would do my best to get the work done quick. blaze through lights, hop on curbs, break through alleys, ignore stop signs, and so on...i know, i know, what are you thinking? well, i was only thinking...i need this package off so i can get more work. more work equals more money...after all, this bizz is all about commission. sure, there are companies that pay hourly but not many...even then, it's sorta like getting paid salary. they can work you as hard as they want and you'll still just make the same amount of loot daily. it works out on slow days but on busy days...commission is the sh*t!

anyway, back to the thought i want to get to. flying through the city it is inevitable that you will piss-off quite a few people. whether it's a cab, bus, pedestrian, and so on. cuttin' cars and near accidents will happen...well, accidents happen as well. even though cats are flying through city traffic i would say that most of the accidents caused are 70/30...70 being pedestrians. obviously this is just my opinion and im sure others will disagree but im ok with that...ha!

that being said, i remember one of my main fears was stepping off the elevator and just before getting a signature for a delivery, the cat i just pissed off for cutting off is coming in. does that make sense? my crew is flying through traffic making people angry but those very same people that are getting angry are the ones requesting deliveries. many, many people complain about messengers being dangerous and inconsiderate. what about the clients? we have a half-hour delivery service. messengers have to deal with security and freight elevators at buildings. then you want these cats to obey the traffic laws yet make the packages on time?! thats not how it works...many/most clients call up wanting packages delivered "yesterday". maybe they're putting in a bid, maybe they need to make a filling deadline, maybe the rent check is do at exactly 1300 and no later, maybe...well, you get the idea.

clients constantly call to request our fastest service cause they goofed up. then they take off to lunch and while at lunch they almost get run over by a messenger. they get angry as hell forgetting that they just placed an order to be delivered "NOW"...not good. im not saying any of this has actually happened to me or anyone in my crew it was just a random thought i had. the fastest service is the most expensive service but can be difficult to be delivered in the time frame if the laws were obeyed. i never, ever tell my crew to disobey the laws to get sh*t done...thats on them. i also make sure to let them know that although i need a package delivered quick...packages do not outweigh life. that being said, most cats hear the words "solo"(our fastest half-hour service) and they blaze...why? one...cause it pays. two...cause the quicker you run it the quicker you clean up with the possibility of having more solos coming your way.

not only's considered good customer service to rock out the packages fast. the faster you are the more work the company will dish out...the problem with that is that then they expect the same fast service all the time. then you run into, traffic, and so on. it's impossible to provide the exact same service 100% of the time. too many intangibles for that noise. you mess up once and you run the risk of of losing the*t, many, many clients call threatening to use other services. guess what people...they have the same problems we deal with. some clients demand a service reduction if the package is about 2 or 5 minutes! you have got to be soldier just road his as* off and put him/herself in danger for you to downgrade the package? silly clients.

it's crazy when you think about it...traffic laws cannot be obeyed all while trying to make enough to get through another week and, most importantly, while trying to get the job done on time...ha! all im saying is next time you're in the downtown area think twice before snapping off at messengers...they are just doing their job...even if it means breaking the law. ride hard and ride safe...remember, no package is worth it...peace.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

black president...

november 4th, 2008 was a long, long, long day. i had to make my way into work earlier than usual cause the other bike dispatcher took the day off. it is/was a big day for american politics...presidential election. there were two ways i figured the day would go...either it will be busy as hell from the get go and then die around 1500 or it would just be dead all day. again, the reason for either one of these scenarios would be because history was about to be made.

i show up to work and there is no work. 18 out of 20 messengers decided to show up on a super slooooow day. companies throughout chicago have taken the day off or are closing early to give people a chance to attend the madness at grant park or at least witness history via television. so now what do i do? i dish out work one at a time...can't really load cats up with doubles or sets cause i have to spread the love. i could tell cats were getting pissed...i don't blame them. as usual i try my best to spread the love all while anxious to get out of work...i was one of many that was able to get my hands on tickets to the event.

i start letting cats go home around 1400 and little by little im left with just a handful of riders...honestly, even that was way too many. the managers at work started freaking out cause cars would not be allowed in the loop are we supposed to pull or drop packages after 1500?! well, i have messengers out there until six so we're covered till then but then i call one of your riders who i let go home early..., seventeen.

6717...hey, whats up?, can you do us a favor? we need someone to stay super late because of the rally. they'll start paying hourly after in?

6717...yup, let me see if i can get someone to cover my shift at my other job.

...many thank you's to 17 for coming out from six to midnight. i know, i was paying hourly and worth it but still can be very annoying. on another note...

november 4th, 2008...

i made it to the event of my lifetime...i felt honored and proud to be present while history was happening. today at work when 6758 checked in i apologized to him... kid. sorry for abandoning you yesterday. i had tickets to see obama and was getting anxious to go.'s cool. we have barrack obama and thats all the matters.

...i couldn't say it better myself...peace.

Monday, November 3, 2008

novermber 4th, 2008...

...tomorrow is gonna be crazy. streets will be shut down and companies will be closing early. security is at an all time will be bananas. i'll report how tomorrow's events affect dispatching and my crew but for now this is just a friendly reminder...don't forget to vote!!