I quit my job. I needed a break. The first few days of my self-unemployment were great—I hit the frigid soup of the NorCal surf at Ocean Beach, the notoriously dangerous water on San Francisco’s west side. On a good day Ocean Beach has world class waves. I’d surf with my homemade, 6’1” California thruster. Unfortunately, my liquid vacation ended each day when the west winds would come, chasing the fog, and junking up the surf. My few days as a surf bum bummed me out. I looked around for something to do. I decided to turn my self-unemployment into a “working vacation.”
Ten years earlier I’d commute from the Sunset, San Francisco’s misnamed, terminally overcast beach community. I would take the ‘N’ Judah train to work, getting off at the Montgomery Street station. There is a granite wall that curves from Sansome to Market, where couriers gathered. “The Wall” as it is known by the bicycle messenger community. I envied the mess of eclectic couriers as I stumbled to my climate controlled cage.
Bored as a newly self-unemployed surf bum, I decided to become a bicycle messenger. Why? Bicycle messengers are cool, and the infantry of the financial district, the surly soldiers on the front lines. Scarred with tattoos and piercings, all garish and grudge, they swagger and speak in exaggerations.
I searched the internet, looking at a lot of small courier outfits with crazy names like Spincycle, Black Dog and Dragracer Messenger Collective. How hard could it be to land a job? Damn hard. The community is cliquish and suspicious. The small outfits are staffed with people who know each other. With