I read once that there are roughly only less than 18,000 bicycle messengers world wide who put on their bags and hit the streets every day. Never do I take for granted that the labor positions held by bicycle messengers in any city, town, ville, berg or hamlet around the world hold a unique perspective on the day to day goings on of the cultures they are surrounded by. For the past decade as of July 3rd I have been fortunate to be one of those 18,000, my territory is here in Charlotte North Carolina, aka the Jar where I am one of a dozen or so depending if it is raining or not. Every day I get to see something that I would have never have had the chance to had I been working a normal successful corporate whatever job. Before the blog and through the now I usually document these crazy little experiences that could have only happened to me the messenger on paper with pen or pencil. A year ago this spring something entertaining at the least happened in front of me one morning, I wrote it down and found it this past weekend to share.
It started as a normal day except for the flat that needed attention as soon as I get my espresso dropped in a ceramic mug of dark coffee which I did promptly at SB on the square. I sat facing south on Tryon on the bench and pulled out the needed toolage for this flat fix. My morning coffee/caffeine injection outside working on the bike, life is good. As I took a sip of the good brown stuff I heard a funny shuffling lightly abrasive rubbing noise coming from behind and moving slowly towards me. It had rhythm or maybe better yet a firm noise pattern. As the sound came along my right side from behind on the sidewalk an unsuspecting woman was crossing the street from my left on her way to the casa de cafe. It seemed that their paths were about to intersect in less than 10 feet and they would have had it not been for what happened next. The shuffle kick noise was Willie, a local agro but theoretically harmless street man who was enjoying a morning game of kick the big dead flat grasshopper down the sidewalk. As Willie kicked the locust like carcass landed next to my right then he stepped up, turned left and faced the woman who was stepping up on the curb which put me in between both of them. All of a sudden I saw Willie look down at the target as he pulled back his leg for the field goal attempt and booted that flattened grasshopper right for the woman's head. The paper thin bug took flight in front of me a few feet off the ground, nose dived then skidded across the pavers where it came to a stop in front of the woman's feet. Clutching her chest she immediately let out a shy girl scream which I would have as well had I had been in her shoes and then she firmly stated, "That scared the hell out of me." Willie stuffed his hands in his pockets, lowered his head and walked away at a double time Willie shuffle pace like nothing amazing had just happened.