what was that? is that all there is? who is this? this is it.

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ode to the ass pocket u-lock

September 6, 2021

Roundabout almost exactly 11 years ago today (I thought you said you’d never forget) I laid down my Nextel and walked away.


In the weeks and months that followed I experienced a few flashes of phantom ass pocket u-lock syndrome (PAPULS) which as you know, is a very specific form of phantom nostalgia syndrome (PNS) that affects former bike messengers. 


You know those rose colored glasses that pop up in retrospect? I chucked those long ago. I can cherry pick memories from the good old days but I won’t say it was all fun and games.  


The nostalgia wore off sooner and sooner with each time I quit and came back. 


Q:  What did the messenger say when he stopped drinking beer?

A:   This job sucks. 


Today I’m looking back over my jacked up right shoulder. Looking towards Junior and Junior Junior and wondering how eleven years went by. Asking myself, how did I get here? 


During this little global pandemic thing I stopped toting around any lock at all for a year or so because there was no place to go, before or after work. It was neither here nor there. It was only here or there. 


These days my u-lock is along for the ride swimming around all the way at the bottom of an Ortlieb backpack. It gets used at the following locations:


  • Big Time Brewery
  • Columbia City Ale House
  • Northlake Tavern
  • my dentist’s office


All of this may just be a thinly veiled excuse to once again draw your attention to my favorite Ortlieb messenger backpack model:


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it's in the PI said...

"I'm definitely not doing it for the money," said Mark Pilder, 38, a legal messenger for 10 years. "I like the job more than all the other jobs I had. Or I dislike it less." It was supposed to be a summer gig between college and grad school, where Pilder had been accepted to study education. But like many messengers, he relished the job's freedom, camaraderie and physicality. He tried to quit four times. "I went into this cage," he said of a stint in a bike shop. "My friends would ride up, say hi and ride away, and I was stuck in this little cage."

Posted September 7, 2021 10:27 AM | Reply to this comment

it was in the PI said...

Pilder, a writer with a pointed blog, has honed his outlook on the polar glimpses the job provides, from Columbia Center's 72nd floor to Third Avenue's homeless men. And from spending as much time in elevators as in the saddle, listening to absurdly intimate conversations or countless versions of the same question: "Is it raining?" "That's the worst question you can ask a messenger that's soaking wet," he said. "Just because you don't have windows in your work, you ask me if it's raining. Of course it's raining."

Posted September 7, 2021 11:43 AM | Reply to this comment

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