Thursday, August 4, 1994

Reader to Reader

Two of us had been waiting with increasing impatience for an elevator on the 15th floor of an older downtown building. When it finally arrived, a bicycle messenger burst out. We stepped into the empty elevator and were taken up rather than down, as someone had punched the button for the 18th (and top) floor.

"Those messengers don't have any consideration for anybody," muttered my elevator mate.

"At least he only punched one button and not all three," I replied.

The messenger had apparently made his delivery quickly, for he was there when we stopped at the 15th floor again on the way down. My still-seething companion blurted, "We weren't too pleased to have to go up to the 18th floor."

"It never pleases me to have to wait for an elevator, and the wait can be long in this building," the messenger retorted.

"Don't you messengers ever think about anybody except yourselves?"

"Hey, I was sent here because someone had to have a document delivered in a hurry. I'm just trying to serve him as best I can."

"You're not the only one in a hurry."

"My job is to be in a hurry."

"Did you ever think when you send an elevator up like that it wastes energy and causes unnecessary wear on the elevator?"

"It would cause even more wear if it had to go all the way down and come back to pick me up."

"Listen, I own this building, what do you own?"

"I get to ride my bike all day, what do you do?"

At that we reached the first floor and the messenger was gone.

Wednesday, June 15, 1994

Tribune Messenger Lingo Article

Chicago Tribune June 15, 1994

Copyright 1994 Chicago Tribune Company
Chicago Tribune

BYLINE: George Christensen.

Bicycle messengers are no different from any profession or tribe in having a lingo of their own, one that evolved to make radio transmissions snappier and to break the tedium of reciting numbers and addresses all day.

It's quicker and easier to say "Clean at the Apple" than "I've made all my deliveries and I'm at 35 W. Wacker." The Apple, the Leo Burnett building, earned its nickname from the basket of apples on each receptionist's desk of the advertising company. Messengers are always happy to make a delivery or pickup at the Apple as they, like any visitor, are welcome to help themselves to one.

It used to be the same with the Gum House-the Wrigley Building at 410 N. Michigan Ave. Every reception desk for the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. is lined with packs of the dozen or so brands of gum they manufacture and are also free for the taking. Unfortunately, messengers have recently been diverted to the gum company's receiving room off Lower Wacker Drive to make their deliveries and no gum is offered there. Some messengers have since taken to calling it the No Gum House.

Some of the other nicknames for buildings or locations are:

The Oil Can or the Can: The Amoco Building at 200 E. Randolph St.

The Rock: The Prudential Building of the insurance company known for the Rock of Gibraltar at 130 E. Randolph St.

The Hill: The only marginally significant climb in the city up Lake Street from Michigan Avenue past the Rock to the Can. One says, "I'm on the Hill," whenever he's east of the Can.

The Peacock: The NBC Building at 454 N. Columbus Drive.

Time of Your Life: The Time-Life Building at 303 E. Ohio St.

The Fat Lady: Oprah Winfrey's studio at 110 N. Carpenter St.

The M&M: The Merchandise Mart.

The Picasso: The Daley Center at 60 W. Washington St.

The Governor's Playhouse or the Playhouse: The James R. Thompson Center at 100 W. Randolph St.

The House of Confusion: City Hall at 121 N. LaSalle St.

The World's Tallest: The Sears Tower at 233 S. Wacker Drive.

The B.O.T.: The Board of Trade at 141 W. Jackson Blvd.

The House or the T: The terminal, the messenger company's base of operations.

Some buildings are known by their major tenant. Arty's Place is 33 W. Monroe St., thanks to Arthur Andersen. Kemper's Dock is 77 W. Wacker Drive.

A few other miscellaneous terms and expressions are:

Food Stamp Run: A long ride at a reduced rate.

Sucker Pole: "No Parking" or similar such signs that aren't bolted down. If one locks his bike to such a pole, someone can lift the pole from its foundation and make off with the bike.

A Kite: An oversized envelope 2 by 3 feet or larger that can catch the wind as one is riding.

Thursday, January 27, 1994

Reader to Reader

Two young, fast-talking, yellow-jacketed traders waiting for the elevator at the Merc:

"When I'm at a bar and I have to wait more than two minutes for a beer, I'm out of there. It was the best thing that happened to me the other night though. The next place I went I met the greatest chick."

"What happened to Joanne?"

"Oh, I had to dump her a couple of weeks ago. She started acting like a wife, a beast of a wife."

"Hadn't you been living together a while?"

"Yeah, two years."

"That's too bad."

"Ah, but this new one's great."

"They all turn out the same."

"Not this one. I can tell she's gonna be different. She doesn't have any of that possessiveness shit like Joanne did. I could see it in her from the start."