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My Paperboy Career

June 1, 2013

One summer, when I was still a high school student, one of the other kids asked me to take over his paper route for a week while he was away on vacation.  I was reluctant at first.  I had lots of questions.  He only told me that it was just a few blocks of the city, and that it would be easy.  He told me that I only needed to deliver the papers.  He would do the collection when he returned from vacation.  I wanted to follow him around once while he did the delivery, but it was too late for that.  He was leaving the next day.  How would I know at which houses to leave a paper?  He gave me his collection book.  It had all the addresses in order of delivery.  He told me the location of the newspaper office where I had to go each day to pick up the papers.  He also lent me his newspaper bag.  I was a paperboy!

On the first day, I rode my bike to newspaper office.  I brought along the bag.  Lots of other kids were there, waiting for the papers to be handed out.  I didn’t know what to ask for, but eventually I found the bundle for my route.  A few of the kids stayed around to fold their papers before they set out.  One of them showed me how to fold mine.  My bag was pretty heavy with all the papers in it.  I didn’t have a basket on my bike for the it, but I thought I could just hang it over the back fender.  One of the kids told me that was illegal.  It also didn’t work very well because the bag kept falling off.  So, I kept it over my shoulder while I rode.  With that weight, I had trouble keeping my balance.  Riding was wobbly, but I managed it somehow.

When I got to my route, I started delivering papers, following the addresses in the collection book.  People yelled at me: “You missed my house”.  Some chased after me.  They wanted their paper.  I was adamant.  I wouldn’t give them one.  I didn’t want to run out.  At the end of the route, I had papers left over.  I didn’t know why that was.  Maybe they always gave you some extra.  I thought I did my first delivery pretty well.

At home, though, I had a phone call from the circulation manager at the paper.  He sounded annoyed.  He had lots of complaints about missing papers on my route.  I explained that I delivered one to each house in the collection book.  He still sounded annoyed.  He came over and counted the pages in the book.  Some pages were missing!  I didn’t know that.  It wasn’t my fault.  He took me in his car to drive the entire route.  Any time an address wasn’t in the book, we went there and asked people if they were subscribers.  We also gave them a paper.  Pretty soon we had a new list.

The next day was much better.  Customers were happy!  I had no left over papers.  The manager had no more complaints.  Now I was a happy paperboy too.  When the other kid returned, I told him what had happened on my first day.  He didn’t care at all.  I never delivered papers again either.  We were even.

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