[CR]Ben, Tom and the 5 minute rule

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From: "Greg" <gtsoftley@ozemail.com.au>
To: <classicrendezvous@bikelist.org>
Date: Fri, 10 Feb 2006 10:28:46 +1100
cc: Ben Kamenjas <bici_pimp@mac.com>
cc: Ben Kamenjas
Subject: [CR]Ben, Tom and the 5 minute rule

Hey guys, chill out a bit on this one - I can see too many personal issues sticking their ugly faces into the discussion. Dale was right when he said it is too easy to fire off an email - better let it sit for a while, re edit and send. Ben, my part-time Ozzie comrade and Tom have different views on the lifestyle and psychology of the typical bicyle courier. Here is my angle (my son was a bike courier for a few years in Sydney) The average courier spends about 8 to 11 hours pedalling five days a week in all weather conditions. When he (sorry about being gender oriented - there are brilliant girl couriers out there too) is not riding, he is travelling up and down stairs (lifts as well). Loads of up to 40lb are often carried. Result - what you might describe as an elite athlete. Due to the economic realities of the job, time is always of the essence and road rules are normally totally ignored. If they were obeyed, the company would sack you for being non-productive. Result - what appears to lesser mortals driving tin tops as being reckless behaviour. The wear and tear on the bikes is enormous and the average bike costs more to maintain in repairs and maintenance than a one ton van. Result - quality parts are sourced and swap meets are actually cheaper than buying new oriental gear at the bikeshops. City bike shops are also kept viable. Place yourself in their position. Totally fit, razor sharp reflexes, considered by all to be rat-bags which creates an 'outsider' mentality and the economic need to be fast (not to mention their radio controllers egging them on) and the result is what you see in any major city on any working day. These guys have enormous appetites and super fast metabolisms. On weekends my son used to head into the mountains with fellow couriers and go mountain biking. If these guys took drugs, so what! (What sort of mind bending drugs would allow you to negotiate traffic the way they do anyway?) Their bodies would break them down faster than our bodies would assimilate a beer or a coffee. If these guys are ego-centric, better than being boring. If these guys get hurt, they heal quicker than we can and they know its part of the territory. If they scratch a car - they have insurance. A brief anecdote on how the couriers are viewed by 'polite' society. Every Friday evening the couriers from all the companies would meet at a plaza in the city. There would be a couple of hundred. A car would pull up, a middle aged woman would carry a large box of left-overs from her cafe and gingerly walk to the centre of the plaza and place the open box on the ground. She would then back away and quickly get back into the car which then sped off. The couriers would converge on the leftovers like vultures and before a minute had elapsed it was gone. This lady, I met at a later time in the cafe she runs, did this generous act out of Christian charity. Just think yourself lucky that you aren't busting your asses in the rain, or snow, or heatwave carrying an archive box of documents on the handlebars and a bunch of flowers in one hand, having the radio operator yelling at you for being behind schedule, battery going flat, taxi drivers cutting you off, getting a puncture and being banned from using lifts and have to use the fire stairs as you are not a good image for a corporate lobby. If you had that job I would see it as being predictable to have a drug habit and act anti-socially - but here is the reality - I have yet to meet a courier that was not a pleasant, sharp, reliable, worthwhile and hardworking member of our society. And Ben - just a warning, my 25yr old daughter lives in Bondi and has a very protective dad. Greg Softley Coffs Harbour NSW Bondi Beach NSW Monday Australia