Friday, November 25

Twenty Years Behind Bars: Part Four

Things were much different at Mercury Messengers than City Bike.   $6.25 an hour was replaced by commission.  More work = more money.  No more handoffs to cars. The giant radio was swapped for a phone and there was no office or place of refuge.  Just two guys with phones, bags, and bikes. The messenger business still wasn't terribly lucrative in Charlotte, and my boss still worked the lunch hours at a place called Food Doobies (they sold wraps, get it?).

My former boss, Holt Smith... or as anybody who did business with him called him, "such a nice guy."  Josh the Wonderboy called him "The Mustache" tho.

Being that this was my longest period of employment ever, a lot changed from '97 to '11.
The number of messengers ballooned up to somewhere around 16-18 before '08.  Big Worm and I brainstormed awhile back trying to remember all of those that have come and gone over the years (he's been up here since '97 almost the whole time).

Sixty seven people can lay claim to being messengers in Charlotte in the current generation not including the old timers in B&W photos and the way-more-than-I-can-count Jimmy John's guys.

There were as many as five companies... also at one point.  Not so much now.

I went from my Stumpjumper to a Supergo Access aluminum hard tail with a Manitou 3 that had holes drilled at the bottom of the lowers to allow the rain water to drain.  Eventually, my days were getting closer to fifty miles (including my eleven mile commute), so I bought an old DeBernardi that went from noodle bar geared form to single speed to fixed in '03.  Shortly after that, I bought The Fastest Bike in the World, my '92 Cannondale Track bike that I'm still riding today.

I can't even count the number of buildings that have been erected uptown in the past twenty years, many that are now part of our skyline as it can be seen from many miles away.  It's amazing.

Photo cred: James Willamor
That time when Josh the Wonderboy was in an ambulance and Big Worm got cuffed and stuffed for just trying to keep some continuity of operations going and me wondering if there was any conflict of interest in doing jobs for a company I didn't work for to help out my good friends during this time on inconvenience with 5:00PM deadlines fast approaching.

Most of those were the salad days.  The freedom to do whatever you wanted in between jobs, ride around, take a nap, sit on a park bench and try to solve the world's problems with the rotation of other messengers coming and going between jobs.

Leading into the summer of '08, things were just nuts.  I was busy from 8:00AM until sometimes after 5:00PM.  I'd be running from bike to building and back, busting my ass trying to keep up with the incoming landslide of work.  No time for real lunch breaks.  Just dive into a foodery somewhere, let the work pile up while I stood in line, roll back out with a slice of pizza or whatever.  I was pretty stressed out, sometimes punching elevator walls and such when the phone rang yet again to let me know how much further behind I was going to be.

But the stress of the day always ended, and I got to leave at 5:something.  I never had to take my work home with me (technically).  I was also making more money than I ever would have had I gone into teaching (like I was supposed to).  That money came at the cost of my happiness sometimes tho, as I never got into this job to hate life for nine hours a day, which at that point, I often times did.  I kept waiting for something to change...

and then it did.

The economic bubble burst and Banktown, USA was hit super hard.  If I really wanted change, I was about to get it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

teaching... eeeks, I'm seeing someone that has been trying to get into teaching now for the past 8 years. She has 2 degrees plus a college paper in legal admin. Plus, experience teaching in Korea and overseas... she's trying to get on fulltime as a teacher, impossible. They poach from teacher's college for the most part. Thus, anyone else is sht out of luck.
Its tough to get into unless one is a new grad.