Like most of us, I’ve been involved in different “subcultures” over the years. And one of the coolest was the San Francisco bike messenger subculture.
And one of the coolest moments on that subculture was FRIDAY NIGHT. We’d all get paid and get our checks for all the hard work we toiled on our bicycles over the previous 5 work days. But Friday night was when we celebrated our reward. So it was a joyous occasion. Plenty of smiles all around.
Most of us bike messengers didn’t have bank accounts — are you kidding? bike messengers were basically like street people, but street people who were willing to work hard — that was one of the defining characteristics of bike messengers that made them so cool. Salt of the earth, etc.
So on Friday evening at quitting time we’d all mass at Harvey’s Place on 5th and Folsom. Harvey was Harvey Woo — honorable Harvey Woo — Chinese guy that ran this little deli. And he’d cash all our checks — I think he took out a 5% charge for the service. But he’d make out big-time because after we cashed our checks we’d buy all sorts of stuff at his store. Myself? I’d always get a big meat and cheese sandwich on sour dough roll. And some 6 packs of beer.
But Harvey was also especially beloved among the bike messengers. Because during the course of the week when our meager checks ran out Harvey would let us run up tabs to make it through the week until we got our next checks on Friday evening. And Harvey was a savior and godsend to many a bike messenger. And he was never really heavy or mercenary about making sure everybody paid their tabs. And I’m sure he got burned by more than a few people for his kindness and generosity over the years. But Harvey was beloved by all the bike messengers. And I’m sure he came out ahead in the long run. Because he was such a good guy. And goodness usually prevails in the end. Honorable Harvey Woo.
I’m posting this because I just heard from legendary San Francisco bike messenger Dogpaw that Harvey’s Place finally closed their doors this weekend. So I’m taking a moment to remember all those glorious Friday evenings at Harvey’s Place.