Archive for April, 2009

Cait’s Worst Day as a Messenger (thanks to me!)

Posted in Uncategorized on April 10, 2009 by worst day as a messenger

Well, it all started when Lance and I simultaneously (although we both wanna point fingers about it now) hatched the MOST BRILLIANT MESSENGER SCHEME OF ALL TIME over a drunken game of Settlers of Catan. Actually, I can’t remember what we were specifically doing when we devised our seamless ploy, but knowing our general affinity for combining award-winning German board games with reckless beer consumption, I can safely say that that’s probably what we were up to. The plan was this- I would pick Lance up before work on this killer tandem I was borrowing and he would ride around with me all day, keeping me company and giving me an occasional hand with mail-stop deliveries and normally unbikeable boxes. No, I don’t really understand what was in it for him (which might erroneously lead one to believe that it was originally solely my idea), but he seemed willing to put up with my obnoxious personality and deaf sense of balance for an entire unpaid day, so I was in like Flynn and all stoked up for our Rose City Messenger tandem debut! I picked him up on a grey Wednesday morning, giddy with the excitement of having a partner in crime for the day and envisioning a utopian future in which all messengers give up their track bikes to tear around downtown in adorable delivery duos, possibly even in matching themed outfits. Lance hopped on and Team Tandemonium was all systems go- in fact, it looked like I might actually be on time for work for once. I was stoked, my stoker was stoked, and hot jams were blaring on my tape player as we hammered like hell towards downtown. I think I may have even been giggling maniacally (which kinda speaks distressing volumes about the general monotony of my day-to-day life), when our fun came to a crashing halt as we realized that the wail of police sirens suddenly piercing the air wasn’t coming from the hot jams on my tape deck. Team Tandemonium, totally sent to the mat by a stupid motorcycle cop on some trumped-up “failure to yield to a stop sign” charge. $240 ticket. Brutal. The only good part of getting busted ridin’ dirty was that the cop just took my license and only issued one ticket (I’d always been curious if a tandem would warrant some kind of shared legal responsibility- apparently it doesn’t), ‘cause Lance has a shady traffic record already and I’m normally a law-abiding innocent …but that’s really looking on the bright side. The total financial devastation of a $240 ticket was only outweighed by my frustration that the cop didn’t explicitly note on the citation that the vehicle was a TANDEM and that we looked absolutely ADORABLE on it. But we pulled ourselves together, managed to regain a trace of our former joie d’ vivre, and continued on our way to Rose City base. At base, business was already hectic, and we were met by general confusion. Was I training Lance? Were they supposed to pay him? We brushed it all off with the reassurance that it was still a really good plan and hit the bridge for downtown with 5 jobs already on our hook. As I attempted to navigate our giant awkward bike through the downtown morning rush hour traffic, it became more and more clear to me why more messengers don’t give up their track bikes to tear around downtown in adorable delivery duos in matching themed outfits- heavy-ass tandems are hella awkward for splitting lanes and maneuvering onto sidewalks. We soldiered on and had a good two jobs under our collective belt, when I got a page to call Jim at base, which I knew meant that our operation was about to get totally shut down. It had been decided in the office that we were an INSURANCE LIABILITY, and since my relationship with worker’s comp hasn’t been on the best of terms since last year’s car accident, I would have to surrender my trusty stoker to the bureaucracy of the SAIF corporation- what a crushing blow for what had seemed like an unstoppable tag-team of terror. Meanwhile, the jobs continued to pile up on my hook, so Lance took quick action and set off on foot towards his house in order to get his bike and ride to my house, get my bike and ride it downtown, and trade me out for the tandem (he refused to just take the bus, which I understand ‘cause I hate the bus too and firmly believe in respecting my stoker’s transportation boundaries anyway). So I was flying solo on the tandem, which weighs a million pounds and is significantly less cute in the absence of a certain smiling, gnome-like companion. I have the suspicion that my dispatcher was feeling a little more passive-aggressive than usual, because suddenly the orders start hitting my pager fast and furious, and life became a complete struggle-fest as I labored to keep up with the flow of traffic and stay on top of it all. Spandors, messengers, and commuters alike smirked as they passed me with my giant bag full of architectural rolls, and on every block, clone-like businessmen chuckled out the same fuckin’ hilarious line about how it looked like my “passenger must have fallen off back there.” (Businessmen are such laugh riots. I don’t know how they contain all that great material in elevators- let it out, man, for the love of god, LET THAT COMEDY OUT!). The worst part was that I didn’t have time to stop and get some coffee in my system ‘cause half of the packages were mysteriously undeliverable and the other half were out of time, so I was dealing with a serious headache and general surliness on top of my exhaustion. I think they sent me every fuckin’ job being called in downtown too, ‘cause there’s no other explanation for that kind of arduous toil on an otherwise normal Rose City morning. Hours passed, and with each criss-crossing of the downtown area, I became a bigger and bigger asshole on the radio, until finally Lance appeared with my tiny, featherweight track bike like the true American gnome-like hero that he is. We drank free coffee and I got really hyper, back at work and spinning like a Tasmanian Devil all over town. Fire in the hole! The hot jams were back on the tape deck and I was getting’ crazy to ‘em. Work was still busy, but it was no problem for an unstoppable messenger dynamo such as myself. I’m not gonna lie to you- I’m pretty awesome. BUT THEN! Just as I was crossing the bridge for the mazillionth time that fateful Wednesday, rain started pouring out of the sky in an unexpected spirit-crushing, downpour. Unlike most short-lived Portland downpours this time of year, THIS evil-minded rain decided to continue at an even torrential pace for the rest of the afternoon, until my very soul was drenched in bitterly-cold misery. “Quite a change from yesterday- I’d hate to have YOUR job on a day like today!” became the new businessman line, chuckled out to hilarious effect in elevators all over town. Then with one hour left in the day, I was miserably bombing down Burnside with the entire right lane to myself, when I slowed down just in time for this gigantic black Hummer to make the slowest fuckin’ lane change I’ve ever seen in my life right into the space previously occupied by me and my bike. I got pushed off the bike onto the sidewalk, partially ‘cause I bailed out in absolutely fear that I was about to get shredded by a car the size of a full city block. Bruised, angry as hell, drenched, and covered in mud, I dragged my bike after the gas-guzzling behemoth as it turned into the fuel station at the corner (luckily those things have to be re-fueled every mile or two, so I could catch it). I was ok and my bike was ok, but I pounded on the window and amazingly, the tiny woman inside rolled it down after a few seconds of fumbling. I screamed at her and she looked really frightened for a second- enough time for to feel guilty- then she started screaming back. Meanwhile, my pager was going off like crazy so I decided it would be best if I just kept moving and let her continue on her miserably wasteful way. Let the lingering memory of me riding off with middle fingers ablaze haunt her at night! At this point, I was really shaky and admittedly doing that really pathetic thing where you kinda ride around in the rain sobbing to yourself. With shoes squeaking and hair plastered down to my face, I dropped off package after soggy package to receptionists too unnerved by my miserable appearance to complain. It was the kind of soul-destroying afternoon when I start to reflect on the dogma of my formative years as a troubled Christian teen and realize that god really IS out to get me for being gay. But anyway, 5:00 finally rolled around and I made a beeline for my house, anxious to change into my totally sick crossword pajamas and snuggle socks, curl up into a fetal ball of self-pity, and watch the two-hour season premiere of America’s Next Top Model. And everything went right with the world again. If there’s a lesson in there, I think it’s hijinx or no hijinx, LEAVE YOUR LANCE AT HOME!