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.