10/9 has long been known as Bicycle Messenger Appreciation Day. If you were ever a part of the messenger/ bike community, you know that every day is a BMA day. It’s a hard, dangerous life in NYC. The streets and the gritty people you meet in the game tend to rub off on you for life. They did for me, at least.
While working as a messenger briefly in the late 90s, I made the mistake of accepting an offer to take a day off the bike and stuff invoices into envelopes in the office. I worked fast because I had a strong work ethic and because I wanted to get the fuck out of there to escape the boredom. My speed led to a a job offer. I worked for several years as a phone operator, problem solver and sometimes dispatcher. Back then, the office was almost as (out of respect, I can’t say just as) gnarly as the road. We had more runs than we could handle some days, and shit got real. Phones, radios and keyboards got smashed on the regular, and fistfights were not uncommon. I once watched our truck dispatcher stand up and clear his entire desk with one enraged shove.
I left NYC in 2000 and returned about six years later with a camera. I quickly, but awkwardly, found myself rolling with the same old/new crowd. I dodged traffic into my 40s on a track bike, and that truck dispatcher is still angry and still my best friend. Long, personal anecdote short: You can take a messenger out of the street, but you can’t take the streets out of a messenger. Rest in peace Bill. Ride safe everyone.