April 10, 2007

Sundays suck the worst

Were you ever a paperboy? I was. I did it for longer than I care to admit. My first real job. I learned a lot about human character delivering papers. Being out while the city sleeps in an interesting thing. Having access keys to buildings you couldn't get inside with an engraved invitation otherwise. Seeing the seedy side of things at the same time. My route ended at a diner called the Nickel Plate. I doubt it's still there anymore, but it was on the edge of downtown in my city. The gay bar across the street (I didn't find out it was a gay bar until I was in high school). The jewelry store where everyone with real scratch got their jewelry. None of that Zales shit for those people. I'd guess I grew up more of K-mart kinda gems guy. Then again, that was probably beyond the scope of the Munkey family wallet too. I knew pawn shops all ever town. I knew how to mark an item so you could identify if you were really getting your stuff back later. (Not so much.)

The week in my life then had good days that slowly grew worse. Monday was the best. Nothing happens on Sundays. Seriously. The Monday paper in my city was lucky to reach 26 pages. THey threw nice. I learned to hit the squirrels from behind (ok, i'm kidding, they run too fast. It's like they hear it coming.) Wednesday's are truly hump day. Not because the heavy news hits on Tuesday, but Wednesday is Ad day. Then your back could go back to normal for a couple days. Saturdays are heavy with Friday night drunk accidents and houses burning down.

Sunday is the true bitch in the news paper boy's week. Sunday will whip your ass like a drunk father coming at you with a brass buckle belt in his hand. Two bags, a wagon were no guarantee that you could haul all the papers. That bitch goes 120 pages minimum plus Parade, Comics and all the advertising the salesmen could whore out. It probably weighs about 3 pounds maybe 5. It's gonna break your back. For what? A dollar a subscription? I don't recall the numbers. I doubt they were that high. I had over 130 papers on my route. Sometimes I missed school because I slept late. I didn't care.

I learned about people's nature from the people that wouldn't pay. I hated doing my route at night the most. Doing your route at night doesn't mean delivering papers. It means "Collect." One woman in particular. She always came to the door half naked. She worked at the local TV station. I think I saw my first glimpse of hair trying to collect from her. It's not like the paper cost a lot either. $9 if memory serves. I don't recall all her excuses. "I forgot my checkbook at the station..." (a block away). On and on. I ran collect three days a month to catch people at home. After 3 months of non-payment ($27 bucks that came from my pocket) I quit delivering her paper.

Everyday, I would get a call from Subs. So and so didn't get their paper. They called to complain. For some reason, the complaint record was very important to the newspaper. I was an independent contractor and my actions apparently reflected poorly on the paper at large. Every day I would tell my route supervisor that she was a deadbeat and I wasn't delivering. He insisted. I told him to add one paper to my subs and not charge me for it then. Can't do that. I can't deliver her paper either. He was pissed because he had to go deliver it himself. After about 3 weeks she finally called me and told me to come and get a check. You'd think I killed her fucking cat the look she gave me. I was a kid, but I wasn't stupid.

How does someone fuck over a kid trying to make a buck? I shoveled these peoples sidewalks in the winter too. More backbreaking work. Like Sunday papers times two or three when the snow was really coming down. Three bucks? They looked indignant when you asked. The snow is a foot deep. It would take 3 hours to clear these freaking sidewalks on a big hill up to the house. In retrospect, they were paying me to shovel snow so I could deliver the paper. I should have held the papers hostage. $25 to clean the sidewalk or I'm not delivering your paper 'til the snow is gone. My and brother were the only ones who did it. They would have been screwed. Lesson learned. Get what you can while you can. It doesn't come around twice does it?


At 9:58 AM, Blogger Buffalo said...

Now delivering papers is big business. Don't hardly ever see a kid with a route - least wise not in my part of the country. I always paid by the year. Got a free month that way.

At 9:06 PM, Blogger bike&beer said...

just like buffalo, i don't see kids doing newspaper routes anymore. it's always some noisy van at 5am throwing the papers through the window... parents don't let kids outside anymore, dude... not in larger cities. plus the whole newspaper business got sooo complicated. the snow shoveling kids we get. we even paid them to do it every now and then -- it's a nice thing to encourage them to work, right? i guess...

At 9:43 AM, Blogger Kerry Grace said...

I had a route when I young (taken over from my brother who moved up a rung to fast-food once he turned 16). It was always the modest folks who paid on time and tipped, especially well at X-Mas, and the wealthy in big houses that stiffed me. Once, when complaining about this to my dad, he informed me that the rich got rich by holding on to their money with both hands, not letting go until you pried it from them, and from screwing the 'little people'. I understood the dog-eat-dog at 12 years old!!!


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