I got to spend a few unemployed weeks of that summer with The Boy before he had to head off to kindergarten. It was actually pretty dope, mostly because we had moved to an apartment closer to town with an Olympic-sized swimming pool. So I kicked it until he got on the big yellow bus, and then I went on my quest to find a "real job"... which was always sorta the plan once we no longer had a preschooler.
I decided to look for employment that required a college degree... because I had one that was being wasted. Pretty sure I only filled out one application, assistant manager of the circulation department at the Charlotte Mecklenburg Public Library: Main Branch. You know, the one right uptown.
I bought an ill-fitting suit, interviewed rather well, got the job, went out and bought some more adult looking clothes, and started being a normal person... who still commuted to work by bike because we only had the one car, and I couldn't fathom the idea of being in a car every day.
I pretended the job was a good fit for two and a half months. I would occasionally see some of the other messengers come in to use the internet or as they rode by the front door, me trapped at the circulation desk or in my cubicle. Terrible. It was like being in a cage but worse. Retail hours.
I'd had my fill of middle management about seventy some days in. There were people above and below me that pushed me to my mental limits as far as tolerating my fellow human. I was going insane. Ties, dress shoes, pants... shaving almost daily. Lazy subordinates. Long-winded and perhaps bat shit crazy boss. Stupid bullshit.
So I made a couple phone calls while I was at the library working on a Sunday evening and found out that the guy that my old boss had predicted would fail in the messenger game had managed to secure as a client...
you guessed it.
The biggest law firm in Charlotte. City Bike's old client (also my current employer).
He needed someone with experience to step in and be dedicated to just making them happy. I wanted to be that guy.
Problem being, there was nobody to quit directly to on a Sunday. I came in the next day and gave my two weeks notice to my manager who then wanted to argue about when my two weeks would end.
As if this very type of conversation we were having wasn't part of the reason I needed to quit.
And so it was that I found myself back to making a living on a bike in late December '97 working for Mercury Messengers.
When it started to wear out, I called Timbuk2 and inquired into their "lifetime guarantee."
"... but do you feel like you got a lifetime's worth of use out of it?"
"Ummmmm... I'm still alive, so no."
I wanted to buy another one, but they told me that it wasn't a big seller, so they discontinued their absolute biggest bag ever.
"Only bike messengers were buying them, and they're only about 1% of our consumers."
Et tu, Timbuk2. Et tu?