Newsletter, 9/30/16

     How very strange to find myself here, writing the final newsletter for the Cupid Courier Collective’s final invoice.  It somehow caught me by surprise.  The last week has been nothing if not extremely draining.  We were literally dotting our i’s and crossing our t’s last week, on both a contract and a letter to you, our family.
     That letter was in some sense a goodbye.  We are still passing them around, so some of you might even get this invoice before it.  We have 105 letters to pass out, and are trying to do as many in person as possible, so it hasn’t been quick.  That is coupled with the fact that it has been really really incredible at almost every stop.
     I have been in such a zone that I didn’t really think about my emotional state when we were getting ready to head out.  So it was a pretty big surprise when I got to my first stop (Charles Zukow & Associates, with us since Sept ‘99) and I couldn’t choke back the tears.  And this scene has repeated itself over and over.  I really didn’t know it would hit me this hard – even though I haven’t been on the road that much in the last year or two, I still have seen so many lovely people old and new that it was impossible to hold back the tide.  The sentiments that you guys have tossed back at us – the compliments, the well-wishes, even praise and accolades – were almost enough to make me think that some of you were lying.  Kidding.
     But I’ll say it again, for all the Cupoids past and present, it has been an IMMENSE honor to have been given responsibility for your wares, documents, products, intellectual property, valuables, all that.
     Now I know some of you haven’t even been notified, so:  Cupid is closing, or smerging, or shuttering, or something.  The phone lines remain open, however!  You might start seeing a new face, or hearing a new voice, here and there though.  Cupoid Wren and the phone lines are being absorbed by our great friends at Godspeed Courier.  We expect that you will love them, and find this transition smooth as glass.  I will stake my reputation on my approval of the principals over there, Brandon and Mike, and the company they have built from scratch since about the same time as Cupid.  We might even try dropping in on some of you, just to introduce and welcome each other.Until we meet again, Rev Jim

Newsletter, 9/15/16

Life and change

I had the opportunity to hang with a few old-timer Cupoids last Friday.  It had been a while, but it was as if not a day had passed since I had seen Sarah, Sean/Pumpkin or Bryan.  The Cupid Courier Collective has always been a family business.  None of us are related, it’s no mom’n’pop, but we are brothers ad sisters that have struggled and loved and toiled and hurt and helped this unit carry on.
     I have been here since the very beginning.  My friend Meghan Mack, I have always felt, was the founder;  it  was her vision, her ideas, her force of will, her persuasiveness that got me to foolishly get on board.  She and I quit our jobs in early summer of 1999, and call July 4th our first day, Independents/ce Day.  Truth be told, we took our first client’s order on the 5th, but we have always been proud to bend the truth (hey, it WAS our first day, just no clients called us yet! :) ), and use such an important day for going out on one’s own and starting something big.
     I come from a big biological family.  So I was probably a great choice by Meghan to be her co-conspirator, co-pilot, and co-founder.  I did a lot of important structural, maintenance and adaptive work with our basic system, one that has allowed us to serve, to change, to bring in new partners as others leave, and so on and on and on.  It has been built as if a family, and our journey of lives together has been an incredible one.
     Who I am not including is you.  You, our clients, have always been my family, whether you knew it or not.  You literally put bread on all of our tables, and we did not exist without you.  I took this job seriously before Cupid even began, but after inception, well, that was a whole other level.  I have not been on the road very much the last two years, but still feel this deep gratitude and passion for you.
     And so I come to the hardest thing I have needed to write in about 10 years.  It is with the heaviest of hearts that I think we must officially announce Cupid will probably not last the year.  We have been shrinking ever so slowly, since the very beginning, honestly.  But recent competition with venture-capital-backed, bottom-feeding app-based companies is choking off the biz more than ever. They just made it too difficult.  We decided months ago that one person on the road was needed to keep draws (wages) above minimum wage, and that was an unsustainable long-term situation to give you the great service we have always been proud to give.
     We looked around, came up with some ideas, found some possible partners to make some kind of future for all of us.  And found what I think is the perfect solution.  You may have already noticed some new folks coming in to pick up one or two of your packages.  We are doing what I hope will be called a smerge, as we get absorbed into our friends at Godspeed.  I will be around for a bit, and Wren will be around a lot hopefully, as we try to convince you how awesome they are.  A main objective was that Wren would be a full employee at Godspeed, even, but that will be determined.
     So here we are.  We are still dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s with them.  For now, I wouldn’t expect to see much difference.  You will see and hear familiar folks.  You can still call Cupid, you of course have our invoice right here, we are still here to serve.  But by October, I would say that we will be deep into a full transition.  Hopefully it will be cool to wait on giving you exact procedural answers until later.  Expect to see a bigger letter, more information, and maybe even an office visit from me or Wren or one of the GS principal owners, Mike and Brandon (they are really really awesome).  If you aren’t into that, please let us know.  We hope that the legacy of Cupid will live on with them through you.
With love and gratitude, Rev Jim

Newsletter, 9/1/2016

My house is getting fumigated tomorrow for wood-boring beetles, similar to termites.  In my haste to pack and leave, I’ve failed to get a proper newsletter together (as much as I enjoy writing them).  So, here we have a blast from the past, existential stream-of-conscience Wren in 2014, struggling to understand life as she works a terrible food-delivery job and slips from a life of communal living and travel:
     “I went to Santa Cruz a couple of months ago.  I don’t have any travel plans for this summer except few-days-long bike trips, and while that’s exciting I wonder what’s going on right now that makes longer expeditions less appealing.  I’m kind of tired, in a lot of ways.  My last two trips (a two-month one and a four-day one) wore me ragged and my last house tore through my belly and these past nine months have been a strange hole where I feel vague shadows of things I’ve done, but can’t really hold any of them down.  I guess I helped start a pedicab collective that went nowhere and briefly defended an autonomous space that’s now held snugly in the fist of the state and desperately fought through a cloud of consuming defeat in my old living space, every day trying not to drown in conflict and emotions and mediated conversations and space that could not be in any part mine because it was not everyone’s, it had to be no one’s (which was a way for it to be everyone’s, but that’s not quite how it follows for me).  I’ve also had jobs that pay money (however sporadic and meager) and I got two CrossFit trainer certifications and my hair is growing longer and I have a second bike and I wonder what I’m becoming. I haven’t written in a long time. I start so many things I don’t finish. I usually relish in that I have no idea what I’m doing with my life but that grand nebulousness is beginning to feel strange. I have attachments when I know they’re just cages, so finely dressed.  Why have I grown so used to their metallic embrace?  I can’t become comfortable but I’ve become so comfortable and there’s a lot around me and in me that could make that so simple but it’s not something I can do.  If I wanted to strip all meaning from my life maybe I’d consider it.  It’s creeping on me, though, and I’m having trouble finding worth in the things that I do.  Anyone can get on me for whining, sure, and plenty have told me plenty have it worse (one of my old housemates’ favorite suggested coping mechanisms), but this is my journal and I’m feeling awful, as the sun dips behind the hospital down the block, so I’m writing down this strange serpent within me.”
In grand conclusion, life is hard.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   -Wren
(Ed. note:  Check it out at https://www.sfbma.org/quake-city-rumble-2016/ Also, Cupid Courier will be CLOSED Monday, September 5th, in honor of Labor Day!)

Newsletter, 8/15/2016

     Quake City Rumble is an annual fundraiser that includes a series of races, parties and events to raise money for the Broken Bones Fund.  That’s a pool of money for wounded messengers hurt working while on the road.  It can be a dangerous job that attracts some crazy people.  I’ve made many friends through the community who are artists, musicians, performers, and wingnuts.  I enjoy the company of this colorful crowd, and it’s exciting to participate in the organization of QCR.  Mostly it’s a great day to celebrate the pure fact that bicycles are the fastest way to get around in a city.-Jacki
(Ed. note:  Check it out at https://www.sfbma.org/quake-city-rumble-2016/.  Also, Cupid Courier will be CLOSED Monday, September 5th, in honor of Labor Day!)

Newsletter, 7/31/2016

     I’ve been a morning person as long as I can remember.  Even if I’m not fully awake as the sun crests the East Bay hills, I enjoy sloughing through the sticky delirium and seeing the world through a haze of fatigue.  It clears after an hour or two, and coffee of course helps.  I think actually getting out of bed is difficult for everyone; how can you willfully abandon such a comforting nest of warmth?  Once the doleful task is completed, though, the only way is forward.
     There’s something about waking up as the sun rises that gives me itchy traveling feet.  Maybe it’s because my dad would drag us out of bed at 4 am to drive down to LA as we often did, to see family, but I like to think a more positive association has grown over those memories.  Now, I think of leaving East from the Pacific Northwest through the dim gloom of February’s rain, or of seeing West Oakland’s streets grey and silent on the way to the train yard.  I watch the light creeping up the belly of clouds, and my blood knows it’s time to get a move on.  
     In my very domestic, current life, it lets me know to get on my bike and head to the gym (yep, I’m “one of those”).  I wrap the coffee grinder in a thick sweater so I don’t wake my housemates.
-Wren

Newsletter, 7/15/2016

     After three weeks of bike tour, I’ve had a lot of time to think.  It feels so good to be home, and back on the road.  I love running Cupid, the clients are so friendly, and there is a certain energy vibrating when I walk into a firm.  Everyone is buzzing around, all these great minds turning together to accomplish extraordinary projects.  I enjoy feeling that I am one small gear turning in the machine.  That one little enzyme that comes and moves things in and out.
     It can definitely get intense at times, but not stressful, as I thrive in such environments.  There are times when jobs comes in, and I feel like I will need a time machine, or to morph into Lance Armstrong to get it all done, but it always works out! Bikes can do amazing things in traffic.  Cars have their place too when it comes to getting the job done.  I don’t like driving on my own time, but when it comes to getting your babies down to the peninsula or over the bridge, I love that too!  Spilling my water bottle in my lap so it appears I’ve wet myself …..love it all.  Because, it is all part of the chaos, tumbling along together on this little planet through the universe.  
     I hope we can keep Cupid going forever, it’s such a unique little gem, that has been considered “the best of the best” from fellow couriers.  Even people who have never worked for Cupid have a place in their hearts for it.
     I can’t put my body through this forever, but I got a lot left in me.  And it would mean the world to me to make Cupid better, to hand off to the next professional, glutton for punishment, time traveler messengers.
~Jacki aka Snacki

Newsletter 7/1/16

It all started when I finally said it out loud.

“My love affair with bikes is over.”

I’ve spent the most formative years of my adult life slinging packages through every weather condition in cities on either side of the country pretty much every day for nearly 6 years. I’ve had just about every experience, save death, that I can really imagine having. I guess what I’m saying is I think I peaked in my bike messenger career.

I’m certainly not regretful that I spent so much time doing this. I’ve met some amazing people, seen some beautiful and not-so-beautiful places I never otherwise would have seen, learned just how hard I can push myself and actually developed a pretty okay work ethic which I never thought I would have 6 years ago.

I’m not off the bike yet, however I’m going an alternative route with bike work which will hopefully result in me being off the bike entirely (I always thought when people said that it sounded like they were kicking a bad habit. Something like “off the sauce”). Although I’d love to just deliver my final package on my last day working with Cupid I unfortunately can’t say that will be the case, although I always swore to myself it would be. But good things come to those who wait, or so I’m told.

So I guess in the end at worst being a messenger was a means to an end which left me jaded and reluctant to ride my bike for fun anymore. At best it was some of the most fun, interesting, social, strengthening and sometimes even lucrative times I have ever and probably will ever have in my life and would never trade those times, friends and experiences for the world. I think the medium in there is a pretty happy one.

If you see me out in the world feel free to say hi! Or don’t, that’s cool too.

-Sammi

Newsletter 6/16/16

A room I rented earlier this year required $200 and four laborious days of mold remediation. I’ve gotten mold poisoning before; in 2012 I’d spent four nights in places that smelled thickly of my basement growing up; I was hacking mercilessly for a month and a half. Mold poisoning more commonly takes the form of chronic nausea and fatigue with long-term exposure to milder concentrations. I really didn’t want that, hence my efforts with this room.
At first I thought it was just in the closet, where stains darkly mottled the paint. I cleaned and sealed the small space, but the room still smelled rankly. There’s a particular sensation of cold, abrasive dripping in the back of your throat when you’re around mold for a few minutes. The feeling filled me with regret, despair, disgust, and panic. I realized that the carpet, long-ago soiled by the dog that once lived there, was a festering landscape of mildew. It was even still damp in spots. That the room got no direct sunlight sure didn’t help (I could see the sky though, at a certain angle, which is more than my partner can say).
I resolved to tear out the carpet (Sam helped, she lived four blocks away!). I wanted so badly to sleep in this place I was paying so much money for, where I’d acquired illusions of safeness, stability, and respectable citizenship. A chunk of the carpet was already missing anyway. From that gap, I thought it was concrete that lay beneath.
But oh no.
Half the floor was exposed particle board. The other half had this weird shale-like stuff poured over it, starting thick at one end and petering out to a thin layer to even out the un-level floor. The thinner parts broke when I stepped on them. The real problem, though, was the that the particle board was spongy where the carpet had been damp. Some of this lay beneath the shale. Well, I thought, I already had one afternoon of sweating in goggles and a respirator, why not treat myself to another? This time I was accompanied by my crowbar friend, and we broke up the shale to expose the rotting boards beneath.
I then doused the floor in mildewcide, let it sit for a day with a fan, and painted over it with mold-sealing paint and concrete-floor paint (for which I chose a pleasant shade of sage green). I also painted the walls to be extra safe; the worst part of all of this was at no point being sure that any of this would work, and worrying that I’d just sunk a bunch of money for nothing. But, to my swelling relief, it didn’t smell after that. The last step was acquiring a rug to protect the floor (paint, particle board, and shale remnants), and when my partner helped me pick one up from East Oakland, we got into a collision on the freeway. But that’s another story.
You may ask, “But young Wren, noble and fair, why did you move into a moldy room?” At the time, I was in between housing, and pretty desperate for a stable spot. The last time I’d looked for housing in Oakland, it took five months for me to land a room. Houses are overwhelmingly swamped with applicants, especially those with less-pricey rooms (and, as a bike messenger, the less pricey is a necessity). So, when I was accepted into this house, I wasn’t paying much attention, and thought it all smelled musty because the last person living there was a slob. Besides that, though, most people I know in West Oakland are living with black mold. It’s not easy to find a house without it. Professional remediation requires evacuation, as well as bringing up an expensive problem to a slumlord who’s itching to evict you and double the rent on new tenants. West Oakland has six times the asthma rate in children as the rest of Oakland. The Port and freeways are a big part of it, but black mold, I’m sure, takes some blame as well.

-Wren

Newsletter 6/1/16

Memorial Day weekend is the annual messenger ride/camp out. It’s an interesting profession, attracting an eclectic group of people. Many of us share parks, steps, doorways as break rooms. Having these shared moments huddle under overpasses in the rain, brings unexpected friendship. Even though many of us work for different companies, we can come together in brother/sisterhood. What better way to hang out in our most natural setting, the outdoors? So I returned yesterday, sunburnt, covered in bug bites, and gassed from the 200 miles in the heat, with minimal sleep, with some of the best memories I’ll ever have.

-Jacki

Memorial Day

Just a quick reminder we will be CLOSED on Monday May 30th for Memorial Day. We will resume our regular business hours Tuesday May 31st. See ya bright and early after the long weekend!

-Sammi