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Ancient history
27.11.08 by Buffalo Bill

1985. Thatcher, hip-hop, big hair and New York City bicycle messengers riding geared bikes. 4 1/2 minutes of nostalgia from the CBS news archive: paper dockets (tags to the NYCers), pagers, De Martini bags.

For another view of what it was actually like to be a New York cycle courier, have a look at Bob McGlynn’s essay Road Warriors, Road Worriers, from Processed World, also from 1985.

  1. Hey – thanks for that Bill. Me and the Enigmatic emissary used to correspond back in the day (proper envelopes with stamps on – no internet then), keeping each other informed about the situation in our respective cities, passing that information on to our peers in various ways (we both wrote for some low circulation mags) – it felt like an important time. I think I met him once in the Duke – was that your doing?

    Anyway, I just wanted to pull one paragraph from his essay for everyone’s attention:

    “The word “union” is certainly scary to the bosses, but so do some bikers have problems with it. They fear it would mean the loss of the Independent Contractor status, and they’d have to face the regimentation of taxes being pulled from their paychecks, they’d have to punch in and out (because some companies are lax now about your comings and goings and taking days off) and no company will pay an hourly wage similar to what can be made on commission. Besides unions have a bad name for being self-serving authoritarian bureaucracies—just the thing that many messengers dig escaping”

    That articulates my opinion quite accurately – you cannot, should not, unionize a black economy.

    That is all.


    — zero    27 November 2008, 20:52    #
  2. Bob at the Duke? Yeah, that was sort of my doing.

    Worth mentioning that Bob McGlynn was involved in the Independent Couriers Association, which was an attempt to start a union.


    — Bill    28 November 2008, 07:45    #
  3. yeah… conflict, eh?


    — zero    28 November 2008, 21:56    #
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