Meet Junior: Bicycle Messenger Warrior of the Mission

Anyone who commutes down Valencia or Market on the regular no doubt has come across this fellow at one time or another.  How could you possibly miss his grey grizzled flowing beard and locks, or his duct-taped battletank of a Schwinn Sapphire that he pedals around so furiously?

This morning I finally decided to say a little more than “what’s up?” and managed to have quite a nice rolling conversation with the guy (I’m sure the fact that I was wearing the exact same jacket helped too), starting on Valencia at around 17th and lasting all the way to the end of Market.  Here’s a paraphrased transcript of our “interview” while in motion:

On how long in the biz:

I’ve been a bike messenger in SF for 35 years.  The last 28 of those years have been on this Schwinn Sapphire, except for about 3 months when it was stolen in the Mission.  Luckily, a friend spotted it about 3 months later at Bay and Gough.  The jerks couldn’t even get the U-lock off (they had cut through a skinny pole to which it had been attached to get it), so they just dumped it!

On Critical Mass:

It all started when a bunch of drunk bike messengers got tired of SF police handing out $20 tickets to cyclists all the time for bullshit minor offenses, like not putting your foot down at a stop sign.  $20 was a big chunk of your take home pay way back then, so they decided to shut down some key intersections around the city and show the cops they couldn’t just fuck with them.  Seems to have gotten their attention.

On the new green bike lanes and separators sprouting up all over the city:

I’m kind of worried that they are a precursor to beginning widespread bicycle ticketing around the city.  You know, like back before the Critical Mass days.  I’m all for cyclists obeying the rules of the road, but the interpretation of those rules is at issue, and the price of those tickets has increased to around $300 nowadays, which can be the same as a paycheck!  But I try to stay out of politics . . .

On the craziest thing he’s ever seen on the road:

A bike messenger was rolling by a parked car just as the lady inside suddenly opened her door.  Predictably, the messenger crashed into the door and wound up partially inside the driver’s side of the car.  The women freaks out and starts to scream “RAPE!” at the top of her lungs.  The dude is obviously injured, but she’s yelling at him and hitting him with her purse and still screaming at him.  Even the fact that his bike was right there did nothing to dissuade her accusations.  It took a few police cars and the paramedic’s arrival to finally calm her down.  I dunno, anything to get out of paying hospital bills I guess.


Author: Andrew Sarkarati

caution is the path to mediocrity. gliding, passionless mediocrity is all that most people think they can achieve.

13 thoughts on “Meet Junior: Bicycle Messenger Warrior of the Mission”

  1. Who remembers the lady messenger who looked like an Eastern-Bloc wrestler in her smedium size tshirts? Bike-pile in the vacant lot behind Harvey’s on Fridays – I mean HerionCrackMickey’sday? Rico? Those yellow clown-bikes? Dissing Walkers (foot-messengers)? R.I.P. The Wall, Jaks, Jerks, Hanx, and Eb. Most newjack bikers are hella toy. Critical mass started irreversibly sucking around month 3.

    1. I remember the lady you’re talking about. Even twenty years ago, that lady and this dude were the oldest bike messengers in SF. Also, Junior worked the door at the Saloon in North Beach for a few years. Either that or he just hung around there and acted like he worked there.

      I miss all the flocks of bike messengers hanging out downtown under massive clouds of weed. And whenever it rained hard, they’d all call in sick.

  2. thank you for the interview with Junior. He most certainly will be the last messenger standing. I see him at my office almost daily. I work nearby too many lawyers and lawyers are the only ones who need messengers anymore. Way back in the early mid 90’s I watched him build a camper shell for his Datsun pickup with little more than a hammer and a hand saw. He used to park the thing on Folsom and 19 but it’s hardly there anymore. I think I saw it on Harrison. I think I admire this guy more than most.

  3. “It all started when a bunch of drunk bike messengers got tired of SF police handing out $20 tickets to cyclists all the time for bullshit minor offenses, like not putting your foot down at a stop sign.”

    Yeah, now cyclists don’t even stop at stop signs or even stop lights. How far we’ve come!

  4. Actually my bike is a Spitfire.The muscle guy Patrick took hormones to become Patty a she-male.Aquit independent,i knew him as a guy,friendly,but as a “girl”hard to deal with.The guy at the Saloon fools alot of people.I’m not hiom,yet one night i stopped by as musicians coming in handed me a bag of equipment thinking he was me.Some honkey called up parking having them hang a pink abandoned vehickle-move it note on my truck.I told them to claim it hadn’t been moved for at “least” 3 days they’d have to have 2 street sweep tickets on me and i move it every night.I said don’t tell me a family man in the Sunset parks his car 2 blocks away 4 times a week to keep out of the 72 hour limit.All they could say was anyone is allowed to annonomously call in a complaint,and…i don’t live in that block…so i had to move it further every night to keep out of thier footdown bullshit anti-deadhead bus zone.I mean everybody thinks i live in my camper,but the door opens outward and has an exterior lock.there is no way i could sleep in it unless the tailgate at—least was down,muffled brainless fingerpointing idiots.Other than that,i’m known for many things,see you around hopefully

    1. it’s like sittin there chewing on some food and someone comes up saying thats an awsome swallow,like what??? i do that every night.It’s not the work…it’s the danger,to have survived that many stray bullets,car doors and Iowa tourists opening thier door on you,now “that”is amazing,like where would i be without me.I remember all the dead people,for whatever drove them on,but i realize none had anything in common to what brought me here,no time to be too social,but i know them all as well as anyone can.You know the traffic is full of shit,but that’s just how they are,you learn to accept what they’ve become,it’s them that have to live with it.Hey it’s been a cool 2 years summer,sad winters moving in,like what the Hell do we live in a beach community for to grunt 2 years to go to the beach 3 god damned times,all the nice girls gone to big joe cool,will i ever see the pink side of success again.Still it’s a nice job,alot of great people…i love you all

  5. My name is Stefan M.,I was as a bike messenger in S.F. from 1981
    to around 1984,I worked at Allens and Bay Area Rapid.
    I remember Junior very well.and Crazy Craig(Crud) with his
    propeller hat,and Mike Russo and Chuck in his military gear.
    I have a million stories and remember lots of crazy days,mostly
    really stoned and drank lots of coffee.I wish I took photos,but at the
    time didn’t think anyone would care.
    One story was a lady opened Her car door at Montgomery and Cal
    and it jammed into my basket stopping me cold.The bike ejected
    me into the air and I went flying thru the air and landed on my
    face with no helmet and luckily no injuries.The driver I screamed
    at but she didn’t give a shit.
    The rainy season sucked,I don’t know how I put up with it.
    I eventually changed over to delivery driver and got out of
    bike messenger.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: