Friday, 31 March 2006

A Simple Plan

29 March - Its very difficult to drag one's self out of bed when one has made no concrete plans to do anything but I managed nonetheless and performed by garbage bag assisted ablutions before wandering out to the bookstore and JJ Beans where I found myself consuming a very delicious but completely inappropiate blueberry muffin and engaging with Jim, a homeless guy who’s in some real dire straights. one thing led to another and he asked what I did and upon learning that I was a bike courier asked me if anyone was looking for employees. certainly there is a pretty big demand for messengers in downtown at the moment but I’m very hesitant about suggesting that anyone should do it - Novex's policy of hiringpeople who are desperate tfor a job certainly hasn’t worked out for them and it hasn’t worked out for a fair number of the guys who've tried it. Its not difficult work but to make anything of it the amount of effort and fitness required is substantial. I suggested he ask some of the couriers downtown if he was really keen to do it but warned him that its a lot more than just casually riding around - in any event, I’ve a sneaking supicion that he won’t be seeking it out regardless. Still, interesting guy if somewhat tragic.
In the afternoon I went looking for some travel guides and was rather bemused by the fact that the budget versions of the travel guides are usually more expensive than the standard ones. Considered working that observation into a standup comedy bit but realised that one joke does not an act make - which is a lesson that could have been adopted by the comedians who we saw at a local stand up comedy act on the Drive. Certainly not the worst stand up act i've ever seen but far from the best. The MC had a very amusing video introduction whhe'd pasted his face over the intro credit scene from the seminal 80s sitcom 'Perfect Strangers' but that was pretty much where the amusement stopped. I've never seen so many stand up acts spend so much time referring to their crib notes whilkst on stage. One of them did it very discreetly by keeping his water glass on top of them and would surrepitiously steal glances while he wetted his parched throat but for the most part the show just stopped while they would refresh their memories with the next joke. There were certainly moments of pure gold but the comedians either had okay jokes and terrible delivery or great delivery and awful jokes. Such is to be expected from an open mic night but glad to be supporting the local scene regardless.

Thursday, 30 March 2006

The Mummy Returns (Again)

Recuperation - Day 1

28 March - Woke up a few times in the middle of the night with a need to readjust or to relieve myself - the hand isn’t aching too much but i'm keeping to the minimum dosage of prescribed drugs to keep the worst of it at bay. Had my first shower with a garbage bag over my arm and am really not looking forward to repeats of that one. Contact lenses are a bit of an issue, cleaning them is a bit difficult with the cast and last night a couple of times my vision just went completely - blurring away like a camera going out of focus, hope it was the drugs that caused that because I really could not handle having to deal with another medical problem right now (am not sure but a cold might have invaded my body in the past few days). Spoke to the WCB agent and Novex and intimattd that I might be heading away for a while but would continue do everything my doctor told me to do and have been mostly reassured that my cover will continue throughout my recuperation. A brief trip downtown resulted in a few errands being completed including the purchase of a sorely needed pair of jeans. Bumped into a fair few of the couriers who were all pretty shocked at the appearance of my hand - its covered in antiseptic paint that makes me look like i've dipped it in a vat of boiling oil but to tell the truth i've a feeling that the worst aspect of this entire process will be the negotiating around the chunks oplaster that have immobilsed a great deal of my hand. The pain is pretty manageable and its not very swollen - I just can’t touch my thumb to any other part of the hand - this means no gripping, no okay signals (although I can still do a passable fonzi and flipping the bird is no problem) and no way of rolling a joint (well, that can only be a good thing).
Hve been relieved of my radio and blackberry during my convalescence, am not sure whether i'll be returning to Novex but it will certainly not be for a while if I do. Am slightly irritated with the company for hosting a staff appreciation day at Richmond for all of the drivers - the bikers have been promised a team dinner since December last year which has never materialised and almost certainly never will for this particular biker. The bike messengers don’t make a hell of a lot of money for the company - although a couple of us usually earned more than the drivers (and our rates are less than driver rates which means the company gets more although driver expenses are considerably higher than bikers) - but what the bikers do, at least the good ones, is maintain the big contracts for the company. In downtown the major contracts are with a couple of law firms, banks and management companies and a fair whack of their work is in the core with extremely tight deadlines, if it wasn't for us getting all the urgent ones done on time Novex would simply lose those contracts and with them all of the higher paying long distance and overnight jobs. The big contracts seem to float around all of the major courier companies, when a client starts to see too many lates they will just go to one of the other messenger companies; undercutting is also a popular method of gettingbusiness for some of the fleets (Novex is renowned for havingthe cheapest rates in town). In the time i've been at novex we've lost a big contract and gained a big one and the grapevine says that the issues that occurred Christmas rush didn't help our reputation much but the grapevine is notoriously unreliable. In any event, its heartening to know that Jason has been a bit overwhelmed because of my absence but I also have to tell myself that its an SEP, at least for the next 8 weeks.

Wednesday, 29 March 2006


27 March - Well, today is the day of the scaphoid operation, almost a full three months after the accident. Treid to do a few errands in the morning but was thwarted by the always unhelpful Canada postal workers. There seems to be a fair amount of camaraderie between all of the delivery workers (flower guys, UPS, fedex, drivers and bikers) but the postal workers, especially the ones who work in the offices, are just a bunch of wankers. In any event was given a call by the surgical centre to ask if I could come in early as they were running ahead of schedule. Headed straight therre and was greeted by a very effusive if somewhat fake sounding receptionist and after correcting my misspelt name tag I was issued with a standard uncloseable gown, hairnet, paper booties and a nice housecoat which would have made a great souvenir if I had anywhere to steal it away. The anaesthesioligist was slightly irritating, being a little too fascinated with my medical history than I felt comfortable with (you had a hypospadius operation at how old???) but after assuring him that I wouldn’t die under his sleeping drug cocktail it wasn’t long before I was lying down on an operating table, IV in one hand, the other marked with the entry points for the drill. I always find it fascinating whenever I’m going in for general anaesthetic. One minute i'm fully conscious and listening to them tell me I’m about to go under and the next minute I wake up in the post op bed with an aching body part, bad taste in my mouth and a crick in my neck. My hand was painted with an antiseptic makng it appear as if I’d just plunged it into a vat of boiling oil but on the whole it was more uncomfortable than anything else. Because I was started early I finished early and there was a couple of hours I had to wait for Mark to finish work to come and pick me up. I was too dizy to make conversation with the nurses but they were very nice, making inane chatter and readjusting me to ever more uncomfortable positions in the bed every time I squirmed around too much. I love nurses - they are the absolute backbone of western medicine - they put up with so much, they've nearly always got a cheerful and friendly demeanour which makes the sterile atmosphere of a hospital or surgical centre tolerable, and they do it for a fraction of the pay that the doctors get. If there's a job in this world that could guaranettee you a ticket to the fictional good place in the next world nursing would be it (unless the nurse happens to be one of the evil ones like nurse Ratchett or the one that the bewitched girl played in that movie with Kirk douglas). However, I won’t deny that I was bored out of my skull - I couldn’t see because i'd removed my contacts before surgery and even after putting my glasses on I was too dizzy to focus on the book i'd brought with me. Jennifer, one of the nurses, asked me if I was bored - yeah, a little. Would you like a ginger ale? Sure ... Not sure how that would imrpvode the boredom factor but I was pretty thirsty. Eventuallygot moved into one of the side rooms where I watched a couple of episodes of Friends, which was about all my fuzzy brain could handle and after a little while Mark turned up and we cabbed it home. The house was stinking of weed - apparently Rene, knowing that he''s leaving in a few days, has decided that the no smoking in the house rule can now be ignored and none of us have can be bothered risking a confrontation by telling him to stop. It's not exactly an unpleasant smell but I drew the line at him lighting a cigartte in the living room.
Tried to field a few familycalls in the evening but just couldn’t string more than a few sentences together - a combination of extra strength codeine and ibuprofen as well as the remnants of the sleeping cocktail had made me a bit of a vegetable. Mark kindly went out to get my script filled from the pharmacy and also to get a few staples to get us through the night - my requests were a blueberry pie, a loaf of country grain flour and some movies (id suggested either capote or wallace and grommet - which was probably at my level at the tim). Upon his return he has a bumbeberry crumbke pie, a half block of wholewheat bread and sideways and shake hands with the devil. Never send out a boy to do a mans job. It was like hed gone out and returned from one of those very similar but slightly different parallel universes like 'Universe Without A J'. It was pretty much what I asked for but completely wrong nonetheless. The bumbeberry pie was very nice but my brain craved bllueberry and rhubarb and apple, while delicious in their own right, were nothing more than pollutants in my mind that night. Also, i'd seen Sideways and the documentary which was about Romeo Dollaire, the Canadian general who headed the UN mission to Rwanda was fascinating but too much about him and not reallythe easy viewing experience I craved on my recuperation ight. In any event, seemed to survive the first day abd am hoping its going to get easier from now on. Not looking forward to shaving, showering, dressing, typing, surviving, travelling with one hand but freedom with one hand is probably comparable to imprisonment with two so am looking on the bright side.

A Last Hurrah!

26 March - Up at the crack for my final opportunity to hit the ski slopes at Whistla. After stumbling around the house for a while I headed off to the Skytrain and upon arriving discovered that the skytrain didn’t actually start services for another two hours. Not a problem - called Marcus to let him know the Skytrain sitch and informed him that I would get a taxi. No problem, he was just about to hang up when he asked me if I actually had a number for a taxi. I did not. Whilst he was searching my phone battery died. There was still just enough juice to turn it on again, get the number and call the taxi but it never showed up. Finally managed to flag one down and before we knew it we were on the bus to whistler, our bellies filled with the noxious breakfast that only McDonalds can offer. Another courier, Chris, was with us. He's a pretty serious snowboarder and an even more serious pothead and he was puffing away on his pipe before we even left Vancouver. He whipped it out again on the gondola as we went up Blackcomb, again on the slopes as we came down. It also made an appearance on the Whistler gondola despite us having a couple of extra travellers sharing it with us (one of them a 70 year old guy who joined us at the halfway point of the gondola ride whose first reaction upon entering the stinking, smoky capsule was 'Oh, that's a very nice smell!). We did some pretty serious runs throughout the day and I had a couple of bails (some planned and some not planned - all seemed to result in snow penetrating all of the openings in my clothes) but no new injuries to report i'm glad. It's good to ski with an expert (even though Chris was on a board) as I always find myself going down runs a bit beyond me which are always moer satisfying afterwards. My skiin gis probably not at its peak as I’ve only been able to it on isolated days and I don't get the confidence that comes with consitant practice but it's still the best mountain i've ever gone down. We were debating whether to do a last run up Blackcomb but weren't sure whether we'd make the express bus back to Vancuver at half four - it was a last opportunity to ski (for a long time for me) so I convinced Marcus to go again and lo and behold we missed the bus. No real disaster but an hours wait plus an extra hour of travelling time in a bus that was reminescent of my Vietnamese transportation after hours of knee and back strain was not the most pleasant way to finish the day.

Tuesday, 28 March 2006

Okay, now we're clear ....

25 March - The man's predictions for bad weather have been rather lapse of late which is not something i'm going to complain about. I'm still gnashing my teeth at not being able to use ibuprofen to combat my aches and pains but the rest from not working should do a great deal to allow my body to repair itself. The fact that I couldn’t take an ibuprofen to combat the powerful hangover from the excessive amounts of beer and jaegar shots (ugh) that was forced on me yesterday sure didn't help. Last night's festivities ended with the consumption of pipeweed from Gandalf (Mark's long stemmed glass pipe) and Mark's famous hot dogs for wasters (they're grilled and boiled or, heaven forbid, nuked) - Mark seems to revel in the position of leading the late night munchies by diligently taking orders like a short order cook and providing pepsi from his private stash (which is in his room so they're never cold) . I think he enjoys the feeling of leadership and power that comes from directing such an important event. Hey, if he wants to feed me i'm not going to complain although i'm going to have to be carful with my caloric intake over this next few months because I sure won't be burningas much as I have whilst working. I'mhoping my appetite will decrease with the lack of exercise but in any event i'm going to have to reduce my bread and bread relattd product intake subsstantially.
My hair went bad so I cut it off with a chainsaw. Spent the afternoon with Jason at a very bad coffee shop doing one of the two things that is inevitable in life (taxes) and talked a bit of philosophy before meeting up with Shadow to go to a bike party. It was in the back of an industrial warehouse and I have to admit that I was surprised that there is such a large community of bike enthusiasts in this city. There was a fair contigent of couriers but there were track racers, freak bikers (really tall bikes, really small bikes, really weird bikes) and a bunch of people who normaly do the critical mass (reclaim the streets). Couldn’t stay too late because I had a very early wakeup the next day but did have quite the time. Was planning to participate in the sprint races that had been set up in the alley behind the party but on the fourth heat between one of the track bike couriers, Matt (a sullen and rather unpleasant chap if ever there was one) and another random individual the latter wiped out rather seriously and smashed his head against the pavement, knocking himself unconscious. Before we knew it the alley was cleared and a fire engine soon turned up closely followed by an ambulance. I'm not sure why the fire engine was there but it sure mad a lot of noise. Needless to say the sprint competition was cancelled which is a shame as baby blue could have met that challenge I think.

Monday, 27 March 2006

Are we clear? 10-4?

24 March - Today is the start of the first proper break from work since i arrived in this country. Today, being today since i finished working in the evening so it's really tomorrow when the break starts but that's just being pedantic. Since i started in october i've worked pretty much every day bar weekends and of course theres that two week holiday when i first at the beginning of the year. After 88 days of working, i moved 4389 trips and rode a conservative 4884 km (on the job only, not including riding on my own time).
Today was a really good easy day - Lee was pumping me, even admitting to me that he was giving me all the Superhots i could handle. I got a few complaints from a surly stu, 'i came to this buildingand when i saw your bike outside it i just didnt even bother' and even Jason, the fastest and easily the most professional of all of us complained that he hardly got any juice today. The day was very relaxing despite feeling very physically worn through most of the day. It's felt a bit like a really extended marathon where i'm just constantly exerting and exerting and i'm reaching a bit of a wall. I can't wait to have a bit of a rest so my by can restore itself to its peak (or whatever that is at the moment). I did some really long rides over town but they were usually very profitable by any comparison to the effort i had to expend to do them. I brought my camera along today with the idea of gettingsome pictures of couriers in motion but just couldnt get it out whilst i was on my bike so i decided on getting snaps of all of my favourite mailrooms, sherriffs and receptions (and receptionists) instead. To celebrate my little holiday i purchased a case of Pilsner Urquell from the cold beer and wine to consume with my fellows. It was celebrated by all who were present when i arrived and before long other couriers who'd beeen paged over radios and by mobile telephone call swooped down upon the art gallery at the news of free beer and it wasn’t long before were more couriers than there were cans of beer and yet all were drinking. It was a miracle. It was a miracle i got home that night. Got gloriously drunk at the park and the Cambie and Pub 340 before the second set of a very loud death metal (death metal, yeah! I listen to death metal to relax man) band scared me home. Wobbled up the hill after some heavy ingestion before I knew it wasn’t going to be feasible to make it home under my own steam. Got home and housemates trickleld in over the next few hours and cartoon repeats started to flicker to life on the TV (i can't understand how i've been watching TV in this country for about five months and yet have seen the same three family guy episodes about 50 times -it's a prety great show but I didn’t expect to be sick of repeats like this until a couple of years into watching it - I don’t know if its going to hold me for that long).

Sunday, 26 March 2006

Winding Down?

23 March - Warnings from the weatherman that the rain would be hard and without mercy prompted me to layer up with tights, long shorts, two jerseys, my buff, ski soks and the godawful rain jacket - lo and behold it only spattered for a little bit in the afternoon and the only real moisture came from inside the clothes and not out (i mean I was sweating - I didn't wet myself - at least I don't think I did). Lee is starting to irritate me even more than usual. He's constantly uncontactable and yesterday he was off for an hour in a 'meeting' and we had one of the driver dispatchers working for a while(who was completely useless) -afterwards Lee seemed reallyupset and I asked him what was wrong. He said it was really bad and asked for to call him on the phone. I did and he told me he'd tell me tomorrow. When tomorrow rolled aound I asked him wht was up and he just sai it was relly bad but then refused to elaborate. I presume its something to do with service issues because there desperate for bikers but they've burned their bridges with just about every experienced biker town so they keep on hiring rookies who often have no temperament for the job and they end up quitting or getting fired (the turnover in the past five months has been astonishing). In an event, with a day or two left at the company and lee's melodramatic behaviour I’m just not that concerned about what's going to happen. It was ever super busy but I did find myself crisscrossing town doing ridiculous distanes for single trips - I even bumped into Mo and he told me that he heard that I was going all over town (i can’t imagine why Lee wouldhave mentioned that to him) bu at th end of the day I did 60k which is a record for a day in the core. After work I had to listen to stu complaining about the fact that me and jason get all the good work - i'm surprised that Stu is underutlised because he's a fast little bastard but I know next week will be good for him (end of month and I won’t be there to steal trips from him). It beingThursday meant that we were paid a visit by herb with sunshine muffins - he was really concerned about my upcoming operation and said he'd come and pick me up from the hospital if Mark fell through. There's something about him which is really amazing - he's a die hard christian who has prettymuch devoted his life to helping other people but he's never preached once. He doesn’t drink or smoke but is completely unperturbed by the bikers passing a joint around in front of him. I'm certainly going to miss him when I go.
The post work day was certainly not full of excitement either - just exhausted, yet again, after such a day and could barely drag myself out of the house to do some errands that were necessary to my ongoing survival - got snaped at by the SuperValu girl who then proceeded to bite the head off another customer as well (it made me feel better to know I wasn’t being singled out) and also endured the philosophical ramblings of the eejit who works at the JJ Beans café (pretty good coffee and excellent baked products but the staff are just excruciating - have decided it's pretty much all the people in the service industy in this country that I don't like). Rene's birthday (or Valentines) present arrived from South Korea to his great excitement - he's been talking about its upcomingarrival for months now and it's lateness has given him reason to make veiled threats to the household in case anyone would think of hiding it from him (and why would they want to do that, Rene??? You're the socal misfit in THIS house) - I also think he's a bit disappointed with the contents but what are you going to do?

Saturday, 25 March 2006

It's cold, it's slow, it's wet and it's long ...

22 March - That about summed it up for today. Had not been on the road for a minute and my feet were soaked from water coming from below and the rest of me was soaked from rain coming from above. It didn't stop all day. To top it all off it was really hectic and I just didn’t feel comfortable zipping back and forth across town with the roads completely slick and my glasses completely fogged up. Every courier I bumped into today was bitchingabout the weather and I had to endure the mocking cheerfulness of the receptionists and other office workers joking 'ooh, it's not a good day to be a courier, isn't it?' - 'oh, just f**k off and let me steam in peace will you?'. The elevator TV weather forecast for the rest of the week kept alternating between 'Cloudy With Some Showers' to 'Rain' - not even 'Light Rain' which is what today apparentlywas. So, I don't think i'm going to be a very happy courier tomorrow either. Lee kept on disappearing off the airwaves during the day and his constant misuse of the signoff '10-4' is reallystarting to bug me. '10-4' means 'Message Received' - if I tell him that nobody is home at a pick and I need a 'no load' you cannot just say '10-4' and expect me to be satisfied. If I go to three places in a row and find out that the 1lb envelopes that the clients have called in ar actually 10lb boxes and bags of fluffy toys I do not want to hear '10-4' as a response. To him it's the answer to anyquestion, it's a way of sayinghello or goodbye or probably even askinga girl out on a date. I don't deny that I often get stressed and have temper tantrums in elevators when i'm alone but I did find myself giving him a good talking to over the radio a couple of times today - his response to my verbal barraging, '10-4' of course. As soon as the day was over I just wanted to get home and have a hot shower eat copious amounts of bread and bread red products - I rented out 'Derailed' which was good for a giggle and thought about doingsomething productive, but anything productive was out of the question because I was just too tired. I'm sure i'll have plenty of energy next week when i'm unable to do anything with it but thems the (wrist) breaks I guess.

Friday, 24 March 2006

Memorial To The Unknown Messenger

Mt Seymour Downhill Photos

Burned Out ...

21 March - It looks like the good work weather is over again with a return of the typical Vancouver rain. Returned to the south side for the first time in several weeks, which was a lot of fun but a little bit exhausting. Have only had the bike computer for about a month and have had intermittant problems with it but clocked in the longest recorded daily distance of a bit over 70ks. Whilst over there I climbed up Oak St, the steepest ride on the side (i don’t even like going down it because its so steep), for the sheer unadulterated hell of it. I was so proud of myself for doing it when there were a bunch of easier routes to take that I buzzed Jason to tell him the good news (he didn’t seem as excited about it as I was). Reno, the new guy, seems to be working out a little better than Thane did, which is good. Although i'm still very pissed off with Novex for the way they treated him and Lee's feeble excuse of being upset that Thane hadn't called in on Friday only inflamed my anger more (we told him to get better and then call in - I was the go between, so it makes me look like I was part of the decision). Had a few impromptu rendesvous in downtown with some people I know which provided a welcome distraction and finished off the day with a takeout Pilsner Urquell at the art gallery with a few of the others. Whilst doing a few little errands after work I bumped into Ozzie Marcus and went back to his place to pick up me ski pants (which weren't lost in the end, it was good to find out) - swapped bikes on the way over and used his fixie, which is great when you're on a flat but terrifyingwhen going downhill. He does have a brake, unlike many of the couriers who fride track bikes, but the bike pedals just keep on goingfaster and faster as the slope takes you down and it feels like there's no control. It'd be fun to join that crowd but I think when all is said and done anyone who's riding a track bike in a city has to be pretty crazy. However, all that riding resulted in absolute exhaustion once I got home - could barely keep my eyes open even after a (relatively) cold shower and some mildly caffeinated beverages. A new little stress is appearing in that the liquid crystal is leaking out in my PDA screen from the cracks from tother days fall and now they seem to be growing meaning I have absolutely no idea what i'm typing half the time (however, i'm not sure if I ever have known what i'm typing about on this little blog for most of the time).

Thursday, 23 March 2006


20 March - Woke up feeling very refreshed after a mostly early sleep but still rather bruised with a multitude of little sprains from the previous day's activities. One of the drawbacks of this upcoming operation is that i'm not allowed to use any antinflammatry potions like my drug of choice ibuprofen - so my wounds will have to stay inflamed. Spectacular weather like on Sunday. Had a call from the WCB, a very nice woman who's taken over my case who was desperate to reassure me that everythingwas covered for my upcoming operation and layoff. Had a brief chat with Cheryl, my new boss (of sorts) and we discussed my future with Novex for a while, not sure what's going to happen just yet. The intelligent fools at the office had turned off my blackberry because it was supposed to be replaced which meant I had to courier 80s style with radio and paper until midday. Shortly after I was online I met my latest trainee - Reno (as in 'I'll see you in hell before i'll see you in Reno'). He's a personal trainer and is obivously very fit and he seems bright enough. The dispatcher seemed to forget that I was training someone for a while and we were completely rushed for a few hours - I was breathlessly explaining to Reno in between picks and drops the reasoning behind my routing 'we're going to go up to lawson, pick up the postal run, drop down the alley to kpmg, down the wind tunnel at dunsmuir, get the return at bental two, run over to bental four - drop that, drop and pick at ten block georgia, get rid of the super at hastings then go to computershare ... No, pick at eight block pender then go to computer share at 510 burrard but we'll use the hornby street entrance, it'll be a couple of minutes late, but it will prevent backtracking and Amera is not a big client, then we get back to Howe and go up there to get rid of the postal return by which stage we should have more trips dumped on us' -I think he got most of it. One of the things I love about this job is is zipping past all of the cars stuck in downtown traffic - after all, it's not often that one can outpace a Ferrari, like I did today. When it comes to moving around a city core there really is no faster way than using a bicycle - always faster than walking, can park anywhere (either bike racks, street signs or parking metres - sometimes freelockng outside or inside when in a pinch), go anywhere (not always legally), this subculture will be around for a little while longer I suspect.

Wednesday, 22 March 2006

Broke-Neck Mountain

19 November - Today we celebrated the Vernal Equinox (i'm not completely sure if it actually was the vernal equinox because no mention of it was made on the day) with a downhill mountain bike ride on Mount Seymour. Ghostrider had sent a bunch of flyers around downtown with an invitation to all of the 'atta-boys' and 'way-to-goes' and a few people seemed to be showing a tentative interest. I expected it to be a drive up to the mountain and then some pretty heavy offroad riding around the place. It was a bit more than that. There was a smaller than expected showing but it still included a fair few couriers (me, Ghostrider (jeff), Dr Death (might have been derek), Mo (a kind of biker), Ozzie Andy, and a few friends. About a dozen riders in all. Herb the Muffinman came alongwith a huge supply of yesterday's Cobs bread nosales which were distribud to all of us and every other group we encountered. He was very concerned about my bad medical news and he assured me that his prayers where with me - he's a very special man. He does so much for the community, especially the biker couriers (a much maligned group of society), and we all love him.
I began to feel a little wary of the day's events when I saw the extremely high end bikes that a lot of the guys had and the fact that quite a few of them were clad in full body armour (full face helmets, breastplate, arm and leg protectors), it was like watching mounted knights in armour gettingready for a jousting event. Once we were all present and accounted for we were driven to the top of the mountain where we were left to get back down. Within the first few metres the trail shrank to a rough line that went down - i've never seen such a biketrail in my life, there were rocks heaped all through the trail, multiple drops of up to a metre, long suspended pathways not 30cm across, thick snow, boulders, riverbeds, long seventy degree slopes, and other features that were completely unrideable. I wiped out within the first 20m and several times afterwards. Afew of them were pretty hard but mostly I was going so slowly I could almost throw my bike out from under me and have a comparitively soft blow. It was pretty terrifying at times and I found myself carrying my bike for several longstretches on the ride - it was definitely way beyond my ability. Halfway down I saw signs showing that we were on a black diamond run, which did go a longway to explain my inability to stay upright.Despite a couple of other MTB riders of my ability The other riders in our group were for the most part expert downhill riders - they would ride down at breakneck speed the most precarious trails, doing jumps and stunts over obstacles I wouldn't eve dream of negotiating - it was like being in a Pepsi Max commercial or watching an extreme sports video. Despite the terror and frustration I felt for most of it there were some parts where I could ride down without too much trouble but it was still unpleasant for the most part - this was not helped by a constant excruciating running commentary from mo who just would not shut up until he took a massive spill of his own which completely knocked the wind out of him (at least for an hour or two). I was so relieved to get to the end and i'd decided I wasn’t going to go up again because it was just too dangerous. However, jeff told me there was a slightly easier blue run that came off the diamond and there was also the added advantage of BSP Cycles having free demo test rides for anyone wanting to go down the mountain. I was set up with an amazing Trek dual suspension mountain bike that went for about four thousand dollars and we were allowed to just drive it to the top with no supervision - the second time down was incredible. I still walked a few spots but the bike was amazing - it would take all the jolts out of the ride and I found myself taking one metre drop and extended near vertical runs over rocks and logs with hardly any effort at all. I constantly felt like I was about to be thrown straight over the handlebars but I would just lean backwards and bounce and roll all the way down. Still had a few small crashes but stayed remarkably upright. It would certainly have to be the most 'extreme' thing i've ever done. Was a little concerned about causing any injury prior to surgery but justified it by saying there was no way i'd be able to do it after the operation and hey, you only live once. When we got back I also had a go of one of the road bikes they had on displayand zipped around the carpark for a while - lots of fun too, but nothing like going downhill.
Upon returningto downtown I hooked up with Thane - my short lived trainee who helped me do a fair whack of work on my bike - very happy with the result although it took four hours (twice as long as he had assured me). He's a very good mechanic (if a somewhat hopeless courier) and he taught me a great deal about what I should do to keep my bike working better as well as how to do some fairly serious repair and modifications. Bikes really aren't that complicated when it comes down to it - they just need to be mothered a bit. Baby blue needs a lot of mothering. I really feel for Thane - his work problems seem to be sorted out at the moment but he's in a bad situation, absolutely desperate for cash (lives in a tiny student hostel) and gives everything he earns to his ex-wife so she will let him see his son. I paid him for the discounted parts and labour he put into the bike but he was just going to give it straight away to his ex - there's always more to every story than what's told but I can’t imagine how anyone like him could deserve to be in such a miserable position. I hope to hell that it improves soon.

The Demons Are Closing In

18 march - Slept in and woke up with a slight hangover despite quitting imbibing many hours before I went to bed the previous night. My upcoming surgery means that i'm not allowed to take any ibuprofen (my cureall for everything from hangovers to bikingaches and pains) because it can mean excess bleeding during the operation. Got gipped on the deceptive pricing policy of a phone card which didn’t help my mood much at all and I also tested my new nuclear powered razorblade, which did offer a very clean shave but I have to say that the magnitudes of improvement on previous models was rather insignificant (and now that i've bought the initial blade i'm committed to purchasing the exhorbitant replacement cartridges - goddamn the 'razorblade model' - get you in cheap and then you pay and you pay and you pay - good thing i only shave once a week!).
Returned to Bons Off Broadway (or Bons On Broadway, I can never remember what it's really called) to break my fast and got a little slap on the wrist for bringing my own maple syrup (all in good fun and the waitress suggested that next time I should probably bring my own butter next time as well - and goddamn it, I will!)
A little bit of Xbox in the afternoon with Ashu followed by a screening of 'V For Vendetta' whch I thought was pretty good in spite of being a little bit long with a slightly muddy plot. Some pretty inspiring scenes including a monologue which could either be described as cheesy or brilliant - you'd have to see it for yourself to decide.

Sunday, 19 March 2006

Is This The End of Biker 313???

17 January - The stiffness of my wrist has been bothering me for some time; I had the CT scan a few weeks ago and nobody from the hospital had bothered to get back to me so this morning I was determined to get hold of someone who could give me the full picture. After negotiating several layers of the St Pauls bureaucracy I finally got through to someone from the out patient area and after much wailing and gnashing of teeth (we're always busy and today is St Patricks day!!! 'So what, you're a hospital' was my reply') I managed to see someone that morning. Perhaps I shouldn't have. The wait wasn’t too long but the review they gave me almost made me throw up. The scaphoid was definitely fractured and wasn’t going to heal on its own and if I don’t want to have arthritis later in life I have to get it reset. I was furious that this wasn’t told to me earlier - on the day that it happened they suspected a fracture (and this doctor told me if it was him he would have suggested surgery straight away) and they told me to do nothing. Now, two months later, it's not healed and i'm being told I have to have an operation under local where they will install a pin and i'll be out of action for four to six weeks. Basically, my career as a bike courier in Vancouver is effectively over. I’d made tentative plans to take a bit of a journey at the end of April and I won’t be able to work after the operation . I should be covered by WCB, although the fact that I worked for a few months after my initial time off could cause problems. The injury also cuts me out of a courier race coming up in April and an offroad run-mtb session I was planning to do with mark at the end of next month and skiing season I also effectively over as well. F**!!!!!! I'm not too much of a man too deny that there were tears streaming down my face when I left the hospital. Despite its frustrations this has been one of the most enjoyable jobs i've ever had and I won’t be able to do it anymore in this city. On top of this, the day, despite being sunny and clear was completelydead (only29 trips and a pitiful earning - the general conclusion for the lack of business was suspected to be St patricks day and the start of spring break for the kiddies) and I managed to wipe out (again!!!) slipping on a steep road that was covered in wet sand which resulted in no further injury other than a few scratches on my legs but my new biking shorts were completely shredded (however my legs have got almost identical gashes and bruises on either side now - maybe i'm just not cut out to be a courier). Went to the art gallery and then Pub 340 (the new courier hangout) to get drunk after work and I met a couple of new couriers, which was great. It never ceases to amaze me how even the surliest of couriers are always so friendly and open when I met them in a social atmosphere.
Upon returning home I made another incredibly annoying fumble with my PDA which resulted in its falling on the kitchen floor, crackingthe screen. Not much seemed to go right on this day.
When I got home I had a little bit of a chat with our hapless new biker, Thane and it turns out that he was let go today. It's not all bad as he had a chat with his doctor who said that the work was really not suited for him at this stage in his life and he's gone full time to his mechanic gig but I was absolutely furious to hear that after the conversation I had with Lee on Thursday morning when we told him that it was cool for him to go home early because of his illness. It's a pretty ruthless business at the best of times and while i've got no issues with someone being let go because they can’t handle the job assuring someone that everything is okay and then flipping 180 degrees the very next day with no warning is just wrong. I have to say i've got very little sympathy with the plight they constantly find themselves in when it comes to retaining bikers. A lot of other couriers who have worked for Novex in the past have criticised the way they treat their workers - one anecdote that Shadow related to me was that Novex fired him four days of his daughter was born because he was taking too much time off (i'm sure there's a bit more to the story than that but Novex certainly hasn’t left a warm fuzzy feeling in the hearts of its ex-employees).
Tentative plans to go do a dance party in East Van were cancelled and I had a late night coffee with Pul-ha-Neeks followed by a screening of Swingers (which I have seen far too many times now to enjoy) and a very late night sesh of Mortal Kombat and weed on Ashu's Xbox., which is always a good combination although 4am is always pushing my boundaries.

Fusion Or Illusion?

16 March - A very stressful beginning to the day when I first couldn't find the two slices of bread i'd saved for my morning toast (it turned out that i'd already put them in the toaster) and then I realised that I couldn’t find my helmet. A helmet is a very difficult thing to lose. During the day it never leaves my head (the most i'll do is unstrap it when i'm eating or drinking) and I only remove it once I return home. Sometimes I might leave it around the house but generally it only comes off when i'm in my room. I hate to admit that my first suspicion was that Rene had thrown it out because he might have been pissed off at me for some imaginary transgression. I called him up to ask if he'd seen it and he hadn’t but I was already late for work and it was nowt to be found so I had to head in without it. As soon as I arrived downtown I headed to Simon's but he was closed so I bought a vile coffee from the place around the corner from him and waited. I asked him if I could borrow one of the helmets for his rental bikes and he was a little coy but I told him that if I couldn't well ride without one and that if I didn't find my helmet that night I’d be coming back the next day to buy one off him anyway. Later on in the day when I came in for some air after a very annoying flat tyre (which i'd changed in double quick time) I got him to agree to let me take the helmet home that night as well. I've said it before and i'll say it again. He might be a grumpy arsehole most of the time but he keeps the couriers going (and it should also be said that the couriers keep his business going as well - a symbiotic relationship if you will). Lee wanted Thane to do a bit more trainingwith me today because of yesterday's debacle which was not so good but Thane revealed to me that he was actuallyquite sick and that contributed mightilyto his lack of performance the day before but he was terrified of calling in sick and just being let go. I convinced him to let me explain the situation to Lee and told him that he should go home and rest up until he was well - I told him that he shouldn't try to work and fail and let them think that he couldn't handle it - he was far more likely to lose his job by doing that than by takinga few days off, getting well and coming back when he was up for it. Lee was very relieved to hear the explanation and so thane went home for some rest and I carried on with my day. Upon returning home I found that i'd left my helmet bundled up n my bedclothes which was a big relief. I felt a little bit guilty of suspecting Rene but he has only himself to blame for creatingthe atmosphere of paranoia in the house (after all, he has trashed the possessions of other occupants in the house over imagined transgressions). We're already suffering from Chad's absence in the fact that we're now lacking the wireless router, the tv remote, most of the pots and pans and the cutting boards. F**k you rene, f**k you very much. In any event, headed down to JJ Beans for a coffee and met up with thomas, one of the ex-novex guys to give him his cheque and we had a nice little chat - i'm really hoping he will return to Novex because we get on reallywell and he's certainly a very complentary member of our little team (one of my finest proteges, if you will). It is doubtful as he's returningto school pretty soon and he's getting a lot more money for a lot less effort at is new job but one can hope. I also took the plunge and spend an exhorbitant amount on the new Gilette Power Fusion razor blade. I am a big fan of the Mach 3 razor blade, it gives a very close shave and it's open blade design means that it clears easily when rinsed. The schick quatro razor which I used a couple of times also gives a close shave but because it's blades back onto plastic it clogs up after every stroke and it's very difficult to rinse out and if its rinsed with hot water it starts to overheat and its not a pleasant experience at all. The fusion razrblade, that I first saw advertsied whilst watching my first superbowl earlier in the year is also an open bladed design like the Mach-3 but in the ridiculous tactic of one upmanship that the two major players in the razorblade game are using this one has five blades (the onion even did a spoof editorial from the gm of Gilette a few years ago with the headline 'F**k everything, Let's Make a razor with Five blades' - I thought if i'm spending this much on a razor I may as well get the powered version which contains a cold fusion power plant (hence the name and most probably the reason why gilette refuses to sell this remarkable device in Iran) that powers micropulses and an edge trimmer (to trim your hedges no doubt). Anyway, considering the frequency that I actually do put razor to face this one should last a while. Well, i'm hoping it will otherwise I may need to get my credit limit raized so I can afford some new cartridges.

Friday, 17 March 2006

Wow, A Pow-Wow ...

15 March - Owen, my less than enthusiastic co-worker called in ill today and Thane is really not working out as well (i'm still not sure of the problem but he seems to sit around just waiting until the jobs are late before he picks them up if Lee is to be believed) so we were effectively down to three bikers today (me, Jason and Nova-Scotia-Stu). A quietish morning that just exploded and went non stop for the entire day, not even a coffee break. I'm not sure if Thane will be around for much longer - I hope he gets it because it seems that he really needs this job. By the same token, there's no point in hiring someone who just needs a job because it's certainly not an easy gig (at least its not if you want to make any money). When I mentioned that I needed to get some knobby tyres for the mountain bike ride on the weekend he tried to sell me his! I think he may well have a little bit of a cashflow problem. There may be someone who will be starting in a few days - a young man in a business suit approached me the other day asking if there was any work going. He didn't reallyseem the type but I used to do an office job (and so have a few of the other couriers) - I told him that I used to work in an office as well and he explained to me, oh no, i'm just an extra in the movie they're filming across the road. Apparently he used to ride a rickshaw in the summer so that would seem to indicate that he knows the city and he's probably got the stamina as well.
Rene seemed to be in a particularly grumpy mood upon my homecoming so it was with no regrets that I escaped 1949 again in the evening. I caught up on some emails at a local café where I placed my order and got an incredibly expensive although admittedly incredibly large café latte. It was far too big for any time of day, especaillyat night time, but, it got me suitably wired to stay up a bit later. I'd been invited by Pul-Ha-Neeks to West Coast night (west coast tribes) at the local native community centre. Basically, a lot of the natives in the surrounding area get together on a weekly basis to commune and do some dances and songs and generally get together. A little bit depressing as it was on the infamous East Hastings St and the poverty showed but it was certainly an interesting night. Also a little bit disappointing as I kind of expected a big fire and people wearing buffalo skins and not people wearingembroidered blankets over casual clothes on a basketball court. Basically, it wasn't exactly Dances With Wolves but it was a new experience, that's for sure.

Thursday, 16 March 2006

Cracks In The Structure

14 March - For some reason the keyboard on my Blackberry has stopped functioning (well, everything but the bottom two rows have stopped working) which means that i've got no way of typing in my PODs and I can no longer send amusing haikus to my fellow coworkers). I bet Thane did somethingto it when he was using it yesterday. This meant that I was constantly buzzing Lee to give him the PODs but it did have the advantage that he was constantly aware of my location so there was very little backtracking throughout the day. It was pretty busy so it turned out to be a rather profitable day. I'm not sure how well Thane is working out - Lee was venting his frustrations to me a couple of times but I hope it all does work out alright in the end. Ghostrider is getting very excited about the upcoming mountain bike ride on Mt Seymore this weekend - he's always full of advice (which is definitely welcome for the most part) but he stopped me a couple of times today to discuss tyre thicknesses and to give me a few updates for the ride. Almost lost my temper with one of my co-workers, a rather experienced biker who decided that he didn't want to drop off his last two trips because they were only REGs (not very high paying),, his explanatation was that it wasn't juice (high paying). I ended up droppingthem for him but not before telling him that with that kind of attitude he was never going to get any juice. Nobody is going to give the high paying jobs to someone who won't do the low paying ones that they've been assigned. At least that's my opinion. Despite being pretty decent weather there was a torrential sunshower at the end the day and me a couple of couriers tried to wait it out under a big tree near the art gallery. Eventually, we decided that it was just not going to stop so we all got on our bikes and headed home - within minutes was soaked to the skin but halfway home it completely stopped. F**k.
In order to escape the house I headed over to Shadow's place for a bit of a visit. I was weclomed into the BMX Room, a shrine to all things BMX (with one or two skateboarding posters that his skateboarder wife manged to sneak in). They're a very interesting couple - both have a slightly chequered history, they were street kids but they've managed to do pretty well for themselves - Shadow's criminal past has been alluded to but he takes his job very seriously (as seriously as one can take their job in this industry although he is the supervisor for the Dye and Durham crowd (he's asked me to work for D&D but they pay a flat rate which would be a paycut although it would be a much easier job) and Angie is a social worke. Their daughter, Aaliyah, who I met the other day, is incredibly cute, mostly incomprehensible (she's still three) but that's explainable considering she understands English, French and even Chinese. After she went to bed we had a couple of tokes and played a game of scrabble which I would probably have lost had we ever managed to get to the end of it.

Empire Building

13 March - Despite the man saying it was going to rain it was sunny all day. The fact that I was wearing three layers to fend off the lies of the weatherman made me overheat rather unpleasantly though. It's not like a hot sweaty heat where you sweat pours all over you and can be quite exhilirating but its dull and sticky and everything is held in close to the body, tightly bound by the waterproof gear that is supposed to keep moisture out not in. While I was getting my morning pickmeup I was approached by the Dynamex Dude (real name Glen) who was keen for a chat with a view to recruiting me for the Dynamex team (after commenting sarcastically on the elaborate instructions on making my coffee - skim latte with no foam and one raw sugar - it's hardly a mouthful, is it???). He can be pretty friendly at times but he seems to have such a quick fuse and can be pretty explosive so I’m definitely goingto keep my distance. It seems every company is trying to poach bikers at the moment - one thing's for sure, I don’t think ill ever lack for work in this city should I ever return. A new guy started with us today, Thaine. He's a bit older and is a bike mechanic as well. He's a very friendly guy, can certainly ride at a decent clip and has no qualms about bouncing kerbs, riding the wrongway down one way streets and committing other little misdemeanours of the job. Every time i've had a trainee i've been slowed down a bit but I get paid extra for doing it and it all works out in the end. It certainly wasn't too hectic today so the day was serene enough. Thaine may have a bit of a history though - he's staying in a downtown hostel and may have flitted from job to job for some time. But, this job's all about meeting interesting people so I look forward to what I may find from this particular gentleman. One thingthat absolutely infuriated me today though was the crap quality of the stuff that THaine was given to dohis job wit - his courier bag was broken and not even of the meagre and inadequate size that mine is (it was Rick's old bag and he'd never used it once), the uniform was comically too small (an honest mistake but there are no replacements and ALL of our uniforms are looking very battered and threadbare) and his radio works half the time and the clip is busted. This job is hard enough to do without shoddy equipment. In any event, my army of bikers seems to ebb and flow - of the six riders we now have four of them have been trained by me (Jason, Flowers, Thaine and myself if you accept the fact that i was never trained), three of my apprentices haven't stuck around (Dimitri was just unsuited to the business, Crystal never couldnt stand our old dispatcher Chris and was always planning to stay a short time anyway) and Thomas has succumbed to a skating injury although he hopes to come back at some stage). Stu started a few months before me and Owen returned to the industry after a long absence - i'm hoping that when i leave this place my bad habits will remain in the lessons i have given my trainees. Such a legacy would be a great thing indeed.

Wednesday, 15 March 2006

A New King?

12 March - Another uneventful day but at least one where I managed to get a proper sleep in which is the first i've had for as long as I can remember. A few errands included patching my rear tyre (the curse has returned) and getting groceries. I found myself back at the local JJ Beans coffee shop - for some reason I keep on going back there despite the rudeness of the staff; the coffee is pretty good when they get the order right and they do happen to have the best muffins on the drive. A rather strange young man wearing a jester's hat and said hello, introdud himself as Howler and engaged me in a conversation that was soon interrupted by a local nutcase who informed us that he was a QC who reported directly to the Queen and he told us that there was an announcement that Charles was going to be king and he seemed to infer that Tony Blair would be dismissed for dragging the Commonwealth into war. The gentleman in question didn’t look like the type of man who had regular conversations with the queen and a latter check on the internet seemed to indicate any newsworthy items that could substantiate any part of of what he was saying. Eventually managed to escape his conversatory clutches and Howler soon moved on to bother some of the other patrons and I was left chatting with a very nice, very spiritual, quasihippie Aboriginal (Canadian Aboriginal - not Australian Aborigine) girl named Pul-Ha-Neeks who, after discussions ranging from globalisation to genetic disasporas, she invited me along to a local social group during the week. Could be interesting. Also rode into downtown where I acquired a very nice pair of cycling overshorts for an absolute bargain (although they still contributed to me going way over my monthly budget and we're not even halfway yet) and I also caught up with Shadow and his little girl, Aliyah (whilst downtown also spied the spry old rollerblader doing tricks down on Denman St - he must be a local fixture). Finally managed to struggle through the last few pages of 'Kafka On The Shore', which took me far too long to read considering the fact that it really wasn't that difficult although it was very entertaining (still haven't really worked out what the whole thing was about though). House situation is 'normal' again but for how long nobody really knows.

Monday, 13 March 2006

Recovery Day

11 March - Despite deserving a decent sleepin after my latest rash of alcohol fuelled late nights I was awoken by a call from Mo, the Novex walker (former and future driver and now occasional biker) wanting to head out to Stanley Park for a little bit of a mountain bike session. I couldn’t commit in my current condition but we made tentative plans for an afternoon hookup. Planned to do a few errands along the drive and checked out the new bike shop that happened to be owned by one of the mechanics who originally quoted me for a hybrid bicycle when I first arrived. I was interested in checking out options for a fixed speed track bike but he only really deals in high end stuff and the quote was a bit out what I could justify but it's a nice shop nonetheless. Wandered down to JJ Beans for a low fat latte enema and after ordering heard, 'What kind of stupid accent is that?' and was confronted with Darryl, one of the Corporate Couriers who was havinga bit of a wander down the Drive. Very interesting guy, he has Native Amerind blood and although he can be a little bit abrasive at times he's certainly very good value. Chatted for a quite a while before he moved on and I used the space for email chatting. The little PDA, despite being a few years old, gets a lot of attention due to its size - it's still much smaller than the tiniest of laptops and most people are more impressed with size than power when it comes to electronics.
Was just about to leave when I bumped into Tessa, an NZ traveller who I met when I first arrived - she used to live with Steve, the Western Australian who I met at the airport upon arrival in Vancouver and it turns out that he's actuallyreturned to Oz, which would explain why his phone was cut off. A nice catchup compounded by the fact that she will probably be heading eastwards in a couple of months which might well coincide with my plans. I'd never got back to Mo about the ride and he called up wondering what the story was. Mo is a bit of a revhead (the reason why he was walking for Novex was because he lost his licence doing illegal street racing) and whilst he's a real shit stirrer at work (he loves to let me and Jason know how we're stacked over the other bikers and he's the biggest gossip in the company) he is a very good guy and he's also our main connection (besides the dispatcher) with the Richmond office. The one thing he seems to love doing more than anything is cruising around in his automobile (perhaps this is a temporary thing because he's so happy to have his licence back but i'd be willing to bet that it's what he just loves to do) and he decided that we would go for a cruise around downtown. Saw some filming outside 885 (Vancouver is used for a lot of films) and a very old but very spry rollerblader doing tricks near the park and Mo gave a somewhat tedious running commentary on every good looking woman we passed but it was kind of fun. He also let me drive his car, which was the first time i've been behind a wheel since Australia and the first time i've ever been behind a left hand drive - very strange to use my right hand to shift and centering in the lane was always going to be a problem - the one thing that was the hardest to get used to was using the indicators. Because of the mirrored controls every time I wanted to signal i'd put the windshield wipers on (had the same problem when I was driving an old Mercedes back in australia). Didn’t drive for very long but lots of fun being behind a wheel again (quite possibly one of the nicest cars i've ever had the pleasure to drive as well).

Sunday, 12 March 2006

The Brave Soldier

10 March - Woke up with a pretty horrible hangover and looked at my Blackberry to find out that I'd already been assigned a couple of trips and then looked out the window to see that it was still snowing and the streets were completely covered in white. Not being able to face the start just then I buzzed lee to let him know that I needed to fix my bike and would be a bit late (a valid excuse because I did need to replace a flat tyre - I'd even had to borrow Shadow's BMX to complete my last trip on the previous day) but after popping some Ibuprofen and rugging up with every layer I had I still managed to get into town only an hour late. It had stopped snowing by the time I arrived in town and, amazingly, the snow had almost completely disappeared by midday and it was hot (well, relatively hot for someone wearing four layers of winter clothing) with clear blue skies. A very strange morning with hardly any trips - something was definitely happening back the Richmond office because Lee sounded very strange on the radio and I couldn’t get a hold of him for an hour at one point - rumours were flying around our little core of workers with us wondering whether he had been fired or if we'd lost one or two of the major accounts. I'm sure it will all come out eventually. I was pretty fresh most of the day which was surprising considering the lack of sleep and the punishment of the previous night although by the afternoon I was really tired and was struggling to stay awake. I kept on getting condolences from all the other couriers for having to work today - Shadow may have embellished our drinking exploits from the night I think. Whilst visiting the 7th floor of 837 Hastings, a site known foits friendly receptionist and, more importantly, the site where static man's powers are at their most powerful because of the thick synthetic carpets and proximity of the building to the wind tunnel of Hornby Street I pressed the button to call the lift and was given an electric shock so powerful that it burst a blood vessel in the tip of my finger (and it still f**king hurts). Also, in their infinite wisdom, TPTB have decided to completely retarmac Howe Street, one of principle arteries of the core. Huge trucks driving along the road tearing up the top layer of asphalt and spitting it into a big dump truck. Amazing to watch but not so pleasant to smell and it means that the roads are covered in crap which just tears my tyres to shreds and there are a lot of mini potholes exposed which are constantly threatening to throw me off my bike. It's baffling that so much construction work is done during the daytime over here where it completely constricts movement within the downtown core. It's not so bad for us because we can usually maneuver around it but it's hell for the driver couriers (and the multitudes who drive to work but I don't really car about them). I'm sure there's a bylaw that explains who this occurs. Finally, the day was over and I went straight home and vegetated for a few hours before watching the Graduate, one of the best films I've never seen. I’m surprised its taken me this long to see the movie but suffice to say I can certainly understand why it consistently appears in the top 10 of all time lists - a veritable classic. Didn’t want to go out at all but was convinced by Mark to join him for a beer or two, this decision was made easier by Rene's return to the house spouting crap about a scuffle of some kind hed gotten up that night - all much easier to head out and wait until he was 'shuttin' her down!' - returned home for mark's famous whole-wheat bun hotdogs and a screening of Donnie darko which I passed out whilst watching. Tomorrow will be a day of rest I think.

A Little Bit Older, A Little Bit Bolder

9 March - Thanks to a Penthouse Forum I read back in 1993 for today's headline. Started the day by collecting a fair swathe of well wishing emails from the homeland in honour of my special day (most of the people realising the time difference but not all) - no well wishing phone calls but that's hardly something to complain about. So I won't complain about it. Work started reasonably well and all of the other couriers were in agreement that the previous day had been one of the worst days weatherwise in living memory. Even the lifers agreed with that which was a bit of a relief because I didn't want to be thought of as the whining Aussie who couldn’t cope with the local conditions. There were quite a few couriers who got jack of the conditions the previous day and went home early but I stayed throughout. If only we got a bonus for being so hard core but I guess being hard core is its own reward. Throughout the day I was constantly getting happy birthdays from all of the other couriers. The word had got around and even a lot of the guys who I barely knew were wishing well. I have to say it was very touching to get all the good wishes from the little community so it was a pretty enjoyable day on the whole.
Never really got around to organising anything proper for celebrations but me and Marcus (my birthday companion) agreed to meet at the SoHo billiards bar in Yaletown for some celebratory drinks. A fairly decent turnout considering the lateness of the organisation - Marcus and his girlfriend Lorne (also an Aussie), Jason and Mo (my coworkers) and a swathe of other couriers (Surly John (or St John as I call him), Elaine and Derek, the perpetually drunken F**kin' Darren (don't ask how he got this nickname but its probably because whenever anyone talks about him they're pissed at him), Chris and Shadow of course) and my housemate Mark came along later. I was a little torn about not inviting Rene but the fact of the matter is I really want to cut ties with the guy because even though he’s capable of being a really nice guy he's got a bit of a screw loose and I just want to ride out our last few weeks of living together with as minimal contact as possible. Inviting him would have been giving acceptance for his unacceptable behaviour over the past month (he did sarcastically thank me for inviting him to my party the next day but I just shrugged without explanation - maybe he'll take some stock in the fact that everyone in the household doesn't want to have anything to do with him anymore - I think its doubtful, but one can only hope). Got completely ripped off with playing pool - didn't realise there was a charge and we just picked up the balls and played a few games before leaving the table fallow for most of the night, there were even randoms not in our party playing on the table and when we returned them we found out there was a plus $30 charge for the use - I think a new boycott might be in order. In any event, it was a great night that may have gone on for far too long, especially as me and Mark kicked on to the wanky 'El Furniture Warehouse' (it probably got its name because it was once a real furniture warehouse and I think the space could be far better used by returning to its roots) on Granville where I consumed more booze than was good for me followed by McDonalds (i needed hot fat and empty calories to soak up the copious amounts of alcohol I'd consumed). It had been snowing that day (lousy Smarch weather) and by 4am when we returned home it was a blizzard and the whole town was covered in a thick blanket of snow like a winter wonderland. Didn’t snow at Christmas but it did on my birthday, which would have been like a fairytale if it wasn’t for my current choice of of career.

Rider In The Storm

8 February - Sing it to 'Kafka On The Shore'. Left the house and immediately regretted my attire. It was pretty cold and raining heavily and I wasn't wearing my jacket (too bulky and uncomfortable) although I did have my warm tights on. I don't care what the Dynamex Dude says about people who complain about the weather. Today, the weather was shocking. Hard rain all day, which only let up around four o'clock. For a couple of hours in the morning we also had the benefit of wet snow. After I left a building I saw that I was covered with what looked like white fluff all over my blue shirt. I first thought it was stuff from the dryer (although I never put the synthetic cyclingshirts in the dryer) but when I brushed it off it turned out to be snow. It was too wet for the snow to build up but I did see a few cars in downtown caked in it (must have snowed overnight somewhere nearby). It's sticky and while it doesn't wet you immediately it soon melts if it's not brushed off and I was already pretty wet from the rain. Also, the winds were so strong that the snow felt like hail in my face. Every courier I saw today was bitching to anyone who would listen about how miserable it was (even, or even especially the cold weather Canadians from Edmonton and Toronto). Also, in the lifts, all of the office workers were laughing and complaining to each other how bad the weather was - most of the time when they do that they completely block out the courier who is standing right next to them - personally, if I was working in an caffeine rich sendentiary environment such as that I wouldn't have the balls to complain about the weather in front of someone who spends all day in it. In any event, it certainly felt like one of the worst days weatherwise that I can remember. It was pretty busy throughout the day - not in terms of juice (didn't too that many trips I think), but there was no break at all and for a couple of hours in the afternoon every trip I did was late (after the first one I get a little stressed, a bit more after the second misses the mark and then I simply do not care whether make it on time).
Had a little chat with Marcus today and he wished me a happy birthday - which was strange because he of all people should have known that it wasn’t my birthday (because he shares it with me) and when I pointed it out he corrected me saying that it was our birthday in Australia. My parents have always pointed out to me that I was due to be born on 8 March, International Womens Day - and finally, it seems that it is my birthday and it is also the 8th of March as well.
Had a little bit of a crash in the afternoon, which was really crappy because it had just cleared up and I was starting to feel a little better by that stage. Seems like a bruise or two and a skinned knee but also had to get my handlebars reset after the impact, hoping the bumps don't feel too bad tomorrow.

Friday, 10 March 2006

Stretched Out

7 March - After a few weeks of relatively dry days the rain came back in force this morning. Never very pleasant but I seemed to earn the ire of one of the Dynamex guys by mentioning it whilst in the lift.
Me: How's your day?
Dynamex Dude: Oh, don't ask.
Me: Yes, it's cold, its wet and its going to last for the rest of our lives.
DD: F**k! Don't ever mention the f**king weather! You're a proper biker! You're like one of those people ... God, I hate when people complain about the weather.
Me: Right, well, have a good day then.
DD: No chance.
We later bumped into each other and he apologised for blowing up at me, explainingthat he was 'all f**ked up' before almost explodingat me again for failing to move my bike fast enough for him to lock it to a parking meter. What's going on with this country? I'm surrounded by hyper aggressive people and it's not very pleasant.
The rain doesn’t bother me too much in terms of getting wet - its never that cold and although it screws up my brakes some and is a bit slippery, it's never that uncomfortable but no matter how many precautions I take the water still gets into everything. The radio and blackberry start to play up, envelopes and packages just fragment in my bag (one trip that I delivered turned was so badly damaged that they had to resend it - they were supposed to get it picked up by a car for free but somehow it got put on me again with the note 'Do Not Let Envelope Get Wet Or Torn!' - at least it had stopped raining by this stage). According to the weather man we've got it all week as well. A good end to the day however. The aches and pains of the past week (caused by moving ski boots, ridiculous work days, skiing and carrying of skis) prompted me to search for a massage therapist to fix my ills - found one woman on Craigslist who was not too overpriced (certainly not Thai prices but not bad nonetheless) - after a few reschedules I finally got it today and it was fantastic. I don’t do nearly enough stretching in this job and my muscles, whilst certainly getting a very good workout from the constant riding, have become a lot less flexible - she gave me a Thai yoga massage which contains a lot of assisted stretching and despite being of the fairer sex she was very powerful (i'm always wary about female masseurs because they generallyjust don't have the strength to penetrate to the deep tissue although this scepticism has been proved wrong on many occasions) and I feel infinitely better.

Thursday, 9 March 2006

Oscar Breakdown

The only awards ceremony I ever watch is the Oscars and as such as I was very disappointed to be denied a viewing this year, the first time i've actually been in the right time zone to watch it live. Unfortunately, my entertainment was destroyed by house politics and an ill scheduled trip to the radiology ward. I saw a few bits early on and despite John Stewart being raved as the last best hope for left wing entertainment I've never been bought into the hype (the Daily Show might be the best spoof news show on television at the moment but that’s more a sign of lack of competition than proof of brilliance) and any comedian is going to be watered down by performing to such a wide varied audience.
If I was betting on the Oscars (as many people obviously do) then the fact that 'Crash' won over 'Brokeback Mountain' might have been a shock but as I do not I can hardly be surprised that the it won. It's certainly a more user friendly film than Brokeback. It was well made, well acted and painfully politically correct but did it really tell me anything I didn't already know? Basically, LA has a race relations problem (i don't think anyone was unaware of that) and good people can do bad things (Ryan Phillipe, natch) and bad people can do good things (Matt Dillon, on the score) and people can be lucky (who can honestly say they were surprised when the gun that shot the girl turned out to be loaded with blanks?) and people can be unlucky (never pull out a lucky charm when you're getting a ride from a trigger happy policeman). I didn't think it was the best of the year but I didn't think Brokeback was either. Brokeback Mountain was an incredibly beautiful movie and one of the best and most painful stories of unrequited love I've ever seen. I've called it a modern day Romeo and Juliet. It's about gay cowboys but it's not really about homosexuality. It's about two people who were in love but could never be together because of circumstances. In any event, 'Capote' split the homo vote and gave it to 'Crash'. In any event, I never agree with the Best Picture winner anyway. And why would I? Yes, the peope who nominate and eventully vote for the winners are people in the industry but, most importantly, they're JUST people and most people have no taste when it comes to movies (my housemate, a splendid fellow in most regards considers 'Bad Santa' to be the pinnacle of the motion picture industry and a girl i met t'other night spouted 'A Knight's Tale' to be the best film she's ever seen, I'm sure there is even someone out there who thinks 'The Fifth Element' deserves the accolade of best film). The 'Best Picture' award has been given to so many mediocre (and even bad) films in the past that I'm rarely bothered when one film pips another to get the gong - Shawshank Redemption, denied to Forrest Gump; Titanic beat LA Confidential; Chicago over Lord Of the Rings (and why was only the third instalment of that trilogy given all of the accolades - not because the previous ones were bad but because the academy, in all its wisdom, were saving the cheers for the last one when the whole thing should have been bundled up if not for the fact that nobody on Earth has a bladder big enough to handle 9 hours of movie in one sitting - bring back the intermission I say!). What movie should be given 'Best Picture' anyway? Is it the movie that is the best acted, best directed, best edited, and offers the most gratuitous use of the word 'Fuck'? No, there are already awards for all of the details. The film that wins should be the film which moves the audience and changes the audience. 'Crash' didn't do that for me. 'Brokeback Mountain' certainly moved me and it certainly had the power to change the views of the anti-gay crowd if any of that crowd would have had the guts to see it. 'Good Night and Good Luck' was a similar preach to the already converted. If I had to choose the best film of THIS year it would probably be 'Syriana', which was shocking, educational and tragic. But, 'GN&GL' had already snagged the left leaning political nomination so it wasn't even in contention ...
I didn't see any of the speeches, bar two, so I can't really comment on what were probably a overlong, over weepy or just plain dull, ego trips by the winners but one that I did see which completely impressed me was Rachel Weisz's acceptance - it was brief, just a little weepy, she thanked everyone worth thanking, especially the author of the original story, and she concluded with a very touching commentary about the value of the real world people who devote and sacriice their lives for others. Every year there's always at least one good speech at the Oscars and despite missing the show I was lucky to see that one. So, that's my 2c on a show I didn't even see this year. So there.

Wednesday, 8 March 2006


4 March - My deal with Shadow had been that he would sort out a daypass for me if I paid for his bus ticket and he came up with the goods in the morning (i was starting to suspect that it was a deal that was going to fall through but I was very pleased to be proved wrong). A friend of his, Carter, a rather mysterious and kind of upleasant snowboard instructor from the village provided me with the ticket as well as getting me some discounts on a few essetnials I needed to get to complete my skiing inventory. One of the nice girls at the rental place also remounted my boots to my skis for free, which was about the only free thing that you can get at Whistler (well, beside a free lift pass i uess). One thing I can say about Whistler is that the mountain is BIG. I've been to a few ski resorts in the world and I had fun at all of them but the slopes on Whistler are just gigantic. Shadow, who I may have neglected to mention is absolutely fanatical about BMX bikes (he'd forced me to watch a BMX video the night before which was admittedly incredibly impressive, the extreme athletes of today are coming closer and closer to the prowess of their video game counterparts) was determined to rent a snowbike and after much wailing and nashing of teeth he managed to rent a bike and sort out an instructor at the last minute (normally, it needs to be oranised a day or two in advance). I had some great skiing despite my skis being a little longer than i'm used to (found myself crossing them accidentally and having to really dig my heels in to uncross them - a bit difficult when you're hurtling down a mountain at breakneck speed) and i only had a few bad falls. One time a snowboarder ran straight into the back of me and, panicking, grabbed around my waist to balance himself sending us both crashing into the snow and sliding about 10m down the slope. Rode on the 2010 Olympics slalom site a few times which may have been a bit beyond my ability because i also had quite a few wipeouts there but managed to prevent any serious injury. By far, the best run of the day was when i finished on the mountain and had to ski down into the village, it took about 30m from the top and could well be a contender for the most fun i've had on skis (night skiing in NZ is still right up there). Had a rather execruciating trek back to the house carrying all the gear and my left shoulder is aching from lugging the skis and boots all over the village but one doesn't go to a mountain to relax. The other thing that one notices about the village is the ridiculous number of Australians who ar up there - i've become so accustomed to beingsurrounded by Canadian accents of various types - the Eastern accents are particularly amusing, but up on whistler everywhere I went I would hear people speaking Strine. There are a couple of Australian couriers and a few of the receptionists are Aussie as well (the girl frrom Cobs (Bakers Delight) and Force Four are two that stand out) but for the most part we're in the minority down in Van and as such I feel like i'm a bit special. Not so up on Whistler where there ar so many australians that most of the locals consider us pests who are tolerated (because they work for little more than food, a bed and a free lift ticket) but ar certainly not loved.
That night Alex cooked up barbecued venison backstrap and roast venison with a homemade blueberry sauce, which was delicious. The meat was from a deer he'd shot and butchered himself last year and it was absolutely delicious and shortly after that we headed down to 'The Boot', one of the local bars where Alex worked at and we were given free booze all night. I'm still unsure as to how propping up a mostly empty bar whilst drinking one's self into a stupor can be described as 'partying' but that's how it was described to me. Far too much marijuana and alcohol consumed in the evening but great day nonetheless.

The Recruiter

6 February - Still feeling the aches and pains from the past week's exertions so was very relieved to find that today was a very slow one. This was particularly lucky because Biker 315, or Rick as he is known to some, is no longer with us. He came into downtown this morning but I overheard him on the radio with BJ discussing a misinterpretation of their previous conversation from Friday. BJ wanted him 'here' as in Richmond (where the office is) on Monday and RIck interpreted 'here' as beingdowntown. The envelope that Rick had torn up turned out to contain a cheque for two million dollars and it had been decided by the powers that be that he should no longer be an employee of Novex. My take on the whole situation was that Rick actually quit by proxy rather than being fired. There was no way that he could expect to keep his job after doing what he did but it seems that this kind of thingwas inevitable because he's renowned for basically gettinghimself blacklisted from every courier company in Vancouver. In any event, 10 out of 10 for style but minus several million for good thinking. And now, I've been asked by Lee and BJ to see if I can find someone else to replace him. There's no point in askingthe other couriers because Novex has a reputation for not being one of the best places to work for and most of the experienced couriers have all done a stint there and nobody wants to go back. Did mention it to one of the housemates, kevin, who showed a little bit of interest but really don't know that he's got the stamina to do it. We shall see. Did go to my local cinema tonight to see 'Firewall' - the two Chinese girls who sold me the ticket were giggling and seemed very excited when I bought the ticket. I thought this was strange until I entered the cinema to find the place completely deserted. Tonight, the cinema was MINE and mine alone. Well, at least for the first 10m when a girl came in and sat in the back row (very annoying, competely destroyed the atmosphere). HeeeeelllllLLLLOOOOOO! That's the sound of me callingout from the pits of the plot holes of which there were many but it offered a laugh or two and it certainly glamorised the inside of a bank comms room (a place where I have spent many an hour), one of the bad guys looked a lot like my recently ex-housemate, chad, and it had a suitably menacing (or do I mean mincing) English bad guy. Die Hard it wasn't, but it sure tried.

Back To 1949

5 February - Vague plans about heading back up the mountain had been mentioned the previous night but the previous evening's imbibing and a lack of a free daypass made my companion less inclined to want to head back up. We also had to leave reasonably early so I could make a hospital appointment back in downtown. Very uncomfortable bus ride reminded me of the joys of Vietnamese travel but eventually arrived back in Van where I was thrilled to be coming back into the mess that has become 1949 East 1st. Everyone seems very on edge at the moment and its possible that there may be a few more vacancies in this house before the end of the month. And who knows, one of them might well be the second floor southside room as well (guess which room is mine). Got my CT scan done at the hospital which took a week to book and took 2m to complete (if you want to know what a CT scan is take the 5s to google it and you'll get a better explanation than I can give) ... Apparently when it's all done i'll get a CD with a copy of the scan file and the softwar to view it. Cool. Went out for a bit of chat with Mark to discuss house events - he's determined that he'll be off before long. It baffles me how it's taken such a short time to go from being a great place to live to a very unpleasant space but what are you going to do?

Tuesday, 7 March 2006

Shadow of the Beast

3 March - After the two busiest days i've had since starting I was praying for something quieter but it just wasn’t to be. There was a quiet lull in the afternoon but apart from that it was non stop again. I know that me and Jason are favoured by the dispatcher, which is great because it means more money and it also makes the day go faster when you’re constantly ruashed off your feet. I t does mean that it isn’t so good for the others but the juice is available to all if they work for it. Noone is going to give you an urgent trip if you’re not going to get it there on time. And I still do my fair shar of crap jobs that mean goingfrom one side of Vancouver to the other for a pittance. Owen, the new guy didn’t turn up on Friday, possibly he’s quit and I got a buzzed by BJ, the manager, asking me of the wherabouts of Rick, the 19 year veteran whose managed to get himself blacklisted from just about every courier company in downtown, because Rick had apparently gotten angry with a customer and torn up the envelope he was supposed to deliver in front of them. On the way home I stopped by Mark's shop to pick up the skis his boss had given me, had a bit of a chat about the current house situation which is really not very good at all at the moment, and then I balanced the skis between my bag and the handlebars, edging them underneath the bar ends to get them home. I’d just arrived at home when I got a call from Shadow, the dodgy French BMX courier saying we had to meet in half an hour at the Terminal to get bus to Whistler. Had a mad rush to throw my gear into my rucksack before bolting to the Skytrain. I was only 10m latt, Shadow got thee a quarter of an hour later with a pizza and an 8-pack in tow and we had to run to get the bus., by the time we got the tickets and made it to the bus the doors were closed and the only reason we didn’t miss it was because the driver was having a cigarette beofre he left. Arather dull bus ride but it wasn’t too long before we arrived at Whistler Village where we found out that our host who was to meet us in the village had gotten himself a little intoxicated but che cheerfullyA informed us that it was a very short walk. It may have been a short walk in terms of an afternoon stroll but it was at least half an hour in pitch black, on an icy path and carrying a rucksack containing ski boots and lugging a very awkward pair of skis. I still hadn’t recovered from the particularly brutal week and my shoulders and back were killing me by the time wa actually got there. Shadow's friendm Alex, is certainly a character. He's a hulking bouncer type who loves his fishing, his hunting, ddirt bike and quad bike and other survival type activities. He’s a biig guy but I was still surprised by the amount of booze he managed to put away over the course of the next few hours. We later headed to a keg party run by some locals that wsa packed full of snowboarding bumpkins (hey bra, how you doin man) wich was reasonably entertaining if it wasn’t for Crazy Wally, one of the hosts (or apparently he was just a friend of the hosts) who was an absolute nutcase. Upon arriving at the house there were some people smoking cigarettes on the front porch and he came out and screamed at them, 'Stop f**king smoking on my f**king porch. If you want to smoke you will smoke in the f**king garage, you f**ks', 'Everybody take your f**king shoes off in my f**king house! I will break your f**king neck if you don’t take off your shoes.' Apparently this rant was fuelled by a previous cocaine binge but he was not a happy camper. It seemed that every twenty minutes his voice waould carry over the already very loud music screaming obscenity laden threats and challenges to one group or another who were cuaising him some grief. I seem to be getting a lot of craziness around me at the moment which whike not being pleassant is at least not very boring.

Monday, 6 March 2006

Country Music Overload

2 March - Was awoken by the sound of Rene's radio turned up all the way to 11 (11 is louder than 10) tuned into Vancouver's favourite country music station. Very annoying as that last hour of sleep is the one I cherish the most. Went downstairs to get him to turn it down only to find that he'd already left and he'd locked his door. Come to think of it, he put the radio on just before he left. It seems he’s not taking his eviction very well it seems. I don't know what his problem is this time but I have to admit that my fondness for the guy is rapidly waning with his childish, passive aggressive (and just plain aggressive) behaviour. I called him up to see if it was accidental (even though I knew it wasn't) and he was really cagey but seemingly unrepentant so I hung up on him and headed into work. I was still feeling wrecked from the previous day's exertions and was hoping to have an easy day today but it wasn't to be. Once again, never left downtown but it was incrediby busy and, apart from a 15m lunch break (the quality of the food court Chinese food in this country is abysmal, my heart yearns for for a big arse sandwich or an Albert St Malaysian Chicken Cashew meal) was moving non stop all day. However, if it hadn't been for yesterday's record breaking return today would have been my record.
Came home to the bad news that Rene's f**king radio was still blaring throughout the house but the good news that after over a year of negotiations with the Embassy of the Slovak Republic, I have finally been issued with my European passport. Hurrah. Unfortunately, it is in my own name and not Vyechislav Incognito, but still, a life of international crime beckons.
Ooh yes, and there seems to be more on the Rene saga as of time of writing it seems that he has lost the plot. I don’t think I want to be friends with this guy at all. The details of what was said and done shall remain undisclosed at this time because this could be pretty serious if it pans out as badly as it might. Needless, to say the household is seeming mighty shaky at the moment.
Had some bad news due to the cancelling of a proposed Whistler trip with Mark but it looks like I may still be going up anyway. The dodgy French Canadian Dye&Durham courier whose name I can never remember still wants to go up and tomorrow discussions shall be had so i'm hoping i'll be gettinga little bit more snow exposure this weekend (the added bonus is that I may be able to ride out the storm that’s a brewing in the household).

Saturday, 4 March 2006

Give Me The Juice!

1 March - Of course one of the few days I come into work with a hangover turns out to be one of the busiest days i've ever had. Pretty much from the beginning of the day to the end (although I did get a 10m coffee break in the latter part of the afternoon) I was moving non stop. For a change, the routing was pretty good and I ended up doing 75 trips (almost certainly my highest number) and I also had a record monetary total (although this was probably helped by my new commission rate - its funny that it still isn't even close to what I used to get at my last place of employment). One of the first jobs of the day was to get some cheques certified (a first for me) and it turned out that I had to pay the $25 to get them done - it took a little while to get the reimbursment from the company but I wasn't really worried. if they weren't goingto pay me the $25 then I wasn't going to give them the $25000 cheques - nice to have a bargainingchip. There are good days and there are bad days - sometimes its just really messy and i'm going from one side of town to anoher and its really manic but i'm really not doing that much work and other times it's just so quiet that we find ourselves sitting around just waiting for something to come up. But occasionally, like today, I just find myself in the right place at the right time so whenever a SHT comes up i'm right around the corner and after I drop it there's another, and another another and it's just HOT. Even when there are little screwups the adrenalin just turns them into little challenges. Still, there's no way I could have every day like today, my back, knees and feet are aching. It hurts ... but it's a good kind of hurt. Also word got around that one of the Flash couriers was beaten up today - apparently he called someone a rather distasteful term often used to describe someone of the homosexual persuasion, entered the building (650 Georgia) and as he left he was set upon by two men who proceeded to kick the living s**t out of him. Not sure which guy it was but some of the couriers can be very aggressive and very hostile so it reallydoesn't surprise me that this kind of thing happens from time to time. Still, i've always been of the opinion that violence rarely solves anything and i'd never condone what happened today. To celebrate my performance I bought a box of timbits for me and the coworkers, which pretty much replaced (and then some) all the calories I burned duringthe day.
New housemate moved in today, Ashu, a young man of Indian descent who's just arrived from Guelph, Ontario, seems like a nice enough fellow - also, got confirmation that Rene will be out at the end of the month, which is a real shame but was also totally inevitable, I suppose. He seems to be taking it very well, his girlfriend is moving to Canada from Korea in a few months and he wants to have a place of his own when that happens so moving on is definitely the best thing for him. He still managed to make a totally offensive rant about the squalor he believes he's been forced to live in (which is complete rot, as the place is usually pretty good - exceptional when you consider that its occupied solely by males) but ... that's Rene.

Thursday, 2 March 2006

It's Pancake Day, It's Pancake Day, It's Pa-Pa-Pa-Pa-Pa-Pa-Pancake Day!

28 February - Was caught by the freight train whilst coming into town this morning. Yesterday, i'd managed to beat it by about 10s as it made its very long inexorable way across the Adanac bike track. But today, it beat me. There was a cluster of about thirty commuters (and Kate, one of the flash couriers) waiting for it to make it to clear. unfortunately, I didn't have a penny for an impromptu experiment but it was soon gone and then there was a mad dash as the commuters pedalled as hard as their flimsy legs could propel them into their flourescent lighted hell holes. Whilst over on the side I saw a banner advertising Pancake Day and I soon confirmed that it was that magical day of the year. Unfortunately, there is a bit of a dearth of establishments that make pancakes in the downtown core but I did manage to find some at a place that does 101 different types of maple products. The pancakes were not very good, the cook had flattened them with the spatula, squeezing all the fluffiness out of them, but I was still glad that I got my pancakes. Any time is an good time for pancakes but I could hardly not eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. Let it be said that the Christian Church has got to be good for something if they can assign a holiday for pancakes. I did spend most of the day in a grumpy mood, mostly due to the shenanigans of Lee 'the Cropduster' (as I was informed his nickname used to be at Corporate - cropdusting implying that we're going all over the downtown rather than following nice, efficient routes). However, at the end of the day I finally got an answer out of bj regarding my wantinga clarification on my commission rate - we had a few seconds of negotiation and I got an raise from 51 to 60 percent (not a huge amount in dollars but a 20% increase, nonetheless). Hurrah.
Tonight also marked Simon's annual courier appreciation night. I still stand by my statement that he is an arsehole but he was very generous by organising the night out for all of the bike couriers in Vancouver. The turnout was amazing, not everyone, but the largest collection of us that i've seen since becoming a part of the subculture. Upon arrival we were issued with a couple of drink tickets, a ticket for a hamburger and a prize token. The prizes were pretty good, my haul was a pair of Ryders sunglasses and a water bottle. Got to know a few of the couriers who i've not really met properly before. Was involved in one of the funniest conversations i've had in ages with a French Canadian courier (whose name I can never remember although we often have very good chats who has the most dubious history (he has a pretty long criminal record and has always lived under the radar, he also has a wife and child who he wants me to meet) who was telling a group of us that French men are the best lovers (its funny how French Canadians always seem to identify themselves as THE French) and one of the girls disagreed. Fernchie countered with the statement 'Your opinion doesn't count because you are ze lesbian!' And her response, in one of the huskiest cigarette scarred voices i've ever heard was 'Yes, i'm a lesbian but I mostly have sex with dudes.' It was very lowbrow but most amusing. Had a very good night although the ride home was a little bit wobbly. Also, it turns out that whilst I do not yet have an official nickname (nicknames are not as prevalent in Vancouver as they ar in Sydney it seems) when discussing me (i wonder what that they actually say about me) I am known as the 'Australian Novex Dude'. Well, its a start.