Monday, October 5, 2009


it's been a minute since the last interview so i decided to reach out to someone who would shed some light from a different perspective. rep'n for the ladies it's the lovely nicole. i gotta be honest...we've said hello to each other but i've never really had a conversation with apologies. the lady is smart, talented, and understands this industry more than most veterans out there. anywhoo...without further interruption...

1.why did you decide to messenger?

Well, this tale is somewhat of a saga. I've always ridden bikes, but I got more interested in it during high-school. Fast forward a few years later, I'm living in Boston, I've got an awesome job that I love, & this boyfriend who's a messenger (we met as "non-messengers"). I was just as serious about bikes as he was but it wasn't my profession at the time. I often told him that if my job ever became shitty, I was going to quit & start riding too. He would tell me that I couldn't do it, that I wouldn't last, I wouldn't make it, I wasn't tough enough, etc. Well, fate intervened, as it so often does, & we broke up. It was really a nasty one, too. So much so, that I decided not to remain in Boston & moved to Chicago. I transferred with my company, & of course my position changed with the transfer. I wasn't allowed to do all the cool shit I once had, so I started looking for a messenger job in a foreign city. When someone tells you so adamantly that you are incapable of doing something, it really drives you to want to excel with the challenge. For me, that was the number one motivator in deciding to messenger. I guess I didn't realize what my chances for failure would be by doing it in an unknown city. But I sure as fuck proved that dude wrong.

2.when did you start? has the time been on/off or straight?

I began at the beginning of January, 2005. Dead of Chicago winter. I quit in October of 2007, I felt like I was almost getting dumber being out there all day, yelling at drivers, or my dispatcher. It was no longer serene for me. I came back in January, 2009, after I had been laid off. I probably won't go back again.

3.what bike did you start on? what do you ride today?

I started on a Fuji Track bike. With all of it's crappy components. I had been in my first wreck a few months prior, so my Miyata was destroyed & I needed a quick fix. Marcus (at Yojimbo's) was having an end of season sale to bring in the new models, & I got the Fuji at a steal. These days I ride a De Bernardi, or my old cruiser if I'm feeling lazy. I'm looking for a sweet steel road frame, though, if anyone has a 52/53cm laying around!'ve seen a few come and go...any stick out in your mind?

Oh god, this awful girl (i know, i know, but not catty) She had money, she had a totally cherry bike, with the bells & whistles, & she started in the late summer. It was an unseasonably warm fall, & she seemed to think she could hang. My dispatcher wanted another girl on the crew, & one of the boneheads that worked there at the time threw her name out, or told her to come in, who knows. I came back from the NACCC's in Philly, & this broad was there. The first snow came out of nowhere, she showed up super-late, after the roads had been plowed & salted, & still left an hour later claiming she had frost bite. Obviously she never returned. There was another Dude with a great frame he barely knew how to ride. I forgot where he came from, I sure as hell don't know where he went, but I do know he was short lived. But I suppose that's the story of many a rookie. Oh, & then there's the girl I got a job for, & then completely burned me. A fist-fight ensued. She's definitely gone now.

5.since you started...what changes have you noticed for the industry? what changes would you like to see?

I haven't seen too many positive changes, in all honesty. The industry is dying, quite sadly, messenger jobs are becoming more scarce, yet there's an influx of kids who want the job title, to say they're a messenger, crowding it out, & taking work from people who've been rolling a lot longer. The amount of work a messenger is doing is getting smaller & smaller, regardless of how many given people are on board that day. Buildings are taking tighter security measures. I do love the efficiency of messenger centers, but for all the time they save, that much more is wasted when you bring in a box, or need to get the back half of a roundtrip. I would like to see some of the personnel in these heated, air conditioned, cozy little holes just give us a break, instead of yelling at us when we've got something over ten pounds. Remember buddy, I had to carry this fucker on my handle bars for a mile, & you can't even put it on a push cart? There are some really great people working M.C.'s though & I give them all the props in the world for making my day go smoother.

nicole on the left...btw, is this pic from chris dilts?

6.whats your experience as a messenger lady? positive/negative?

Golly, Both! There were times when I could use a little finesse & get something taken care of that a dude couldn't (unfair, I know) just because of a little flirtation, or just because I was a girl. That really helped me get things done quicker, scam free coffee, sneak up a main elevator, etc. But there have been times that guys thought they could touch me just because I had tattoos. They'd grab my arm, THEN ask to see them, & start asking me about them. You KNOW they wouldn't do that to another guy. I've scolded a few & they've sassed back. I also really loved when an altercation with a haphazardly driving idiot would occur, I'd yell something along the lines of "fuck you!" & they'd yell back at what a "dyke, bitch" I was. I don't know if any other ladies have gotten this from male, or even other female motorists but I don't know how they could derive my sexual orientation from the two wheels beneath me. Also, I always felt really empowered on those awful weather days, when I was out there, & I would see how few of my male counterparts came to work that day.

7.greatest day messengering...worst?

The last day of work before a Christmas long weekend started, I think this was 2006. I did only 24 runs that day, it was a pretty slow one. But 21 of those runs were directs. I made the most money I've ever made in a single day. I guess my second best day was also a pretty shitty one, though. I did 63 runs, 25 of them in the last hour & a half. I busted my ass that day, & it was raining. I felt really proud, but really pissed as well. My worst day was probably recently, this past winter. My dispatcher was a total heroin addict & she was trying to dispatch a days work to two people, & it was like, negative three as a high temp that day. I was riding from Ashland & Washington, to Roosevelt & Prarie, to Chicago & Kingsbury all in one "set". There was no continuity & they were all burnt runs, because she forgot about them. I don't mind distance so much, but I would really love to have a break from the blowing, cold wind for maybe five minutes, thanks.

8.i know you mentioned to me that you've dispatched...what are your thoughts on that? better or worse than riding?

I do really like it, but it helps if you're dispatching an individual who has an idea of how to route himself. I did enjoy putting sets together, but the ship was really tight at that time, so I'd often dispatch part of the day & then have to go out & ride too. Being a dispatcher can often be just as stressful as biking, but in the way that you've got to deal with the client calling every five minutes wanting to know why their package hasn't been picked up. You can't make a biker work faster than they're capable, so that's pretty stressful. But when you're a biker, you try as hard as you can with what you've got, & knowing the companies fate is in your hands does weigh pretty heavy on your mind. I guess I like them both equally for different reasons. I can be a lot worse on those perfect Spring days, though. you think you'll come back?

Nah. I burned the bridge with On the Fly, & nobody else is hiring. I really enjoy riding my bicycle, & I fouled that up for a while by doing it for money. Man, the first time I quit, I didn't want to look at the damn thing for near a month.

10.advice for rookies?

You've got a college degree, go fucking use it. This business is dying, young man.

bern model... so glad i interviewed you nicole. you have much knowledge about the industry and cats need to hear how this job really is. i've told you how this industry has a tendency to bring on some very talented individuals...well, nicole is no exception. check out her blog here, her myspace with most of work here, and don't be afraid to purchase some items on etsy here. thank you so much for providing us with an interview...i promise next time i will do my best to say more than hello...ha! it sucks that the industry burned her out a happens to many of's a shame that it does. thank you again for the interview...good luck with wherever fate may take you...peace.


Christopher said...

Yup. I shot the photo with the white background at the Chicago NACCC opening party.

ellipses&ampersand said...

he did, it's true, big ups to chris!