Paperboy

I see older men mostly reading their newspapers, going from section to section in makeshift reading areas in gas stations, McDonald’s or coffee shops.  What I remember most is I didn’t make a lot of money from being a paperboy.  And because of that, my mother ended up paying back all the money I squandered.  Go with me, it’ll make sense.  I had romanticized the whole affair, being a paperboy.  I thought I would really get paid.  I really did.  I thought I would really have change in my pocket to, I don’t know, buy myself that LA Kings hat or a pair of British Knights so I could impress people who never knew I existed. Instead, I found myself hiding in my bedroom, trying to nail the loose front sole of my LA Gears to the rest of the shoe and using a black Sharpie to color the old suede.  They were big bundles, the newspapers, especially the Thanksgiving and Christmas papers with their obscene inserts.  I don’t quite remember how I would fold the papers but I do remember the thinner the papers, the easier the folds, the lighter the bag.  I panicked the first day.  I couldn’t make out the addresses, streets, numbers.  I should have done a dry run but I wasn’t that smart back then.  Nobody got their paper that day.  I panicked.  I blamed it on a persistent, rabid dog that only existed in my mind.  It was big.  Those papers ended up getting wet, turning yellow and crisp like leaves in my backyard somewhere.  There was this thing we used to do called crewing.  I don’t remember if we got picked up by a Sun-Star van or if we rode our bikes to the newspaper station.  Either way, we would canvas neighborhoods and ask homeowners if they wanted a free copy or to begin a subscription.  Sometimes they’d feed us after this.  At the end of each month, I would get a bill from the Sun-Star.  The bill had a dollar amount that I would have to pay after I collected the monthly newspaper payment.  I would pay my bill and whatever was left over was mine.  It wasn’t much which is why I went south.  For waking up early, folding papers, stuffing them in the bag, riding around in the cold in the rain, the pay was horrible.  I didn’t last long.  I figured if I was going to do this job, I was going to get mine.  When I would receive my bill, I would collect the money and hit the mall.  I would play video games, eat fries in the JC Penney cafeteria and invite my friends for a good time.  Selfish and irresponsible, that was me.  I should have quit the right way, but oh no, I kept at the job until someone asked about their money because newspaper companies play about a lot of things but they don’t play about their money.  My poor parents, I was a fool.  Maybe I thought it would be easy.  Maybe I was enchanted by television and the typical American boy with his paper route, his bike and rapport with his friendly neighbors.  Maybe not.  Maybe I was just lazy.

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