Thursday, October 19, 2006
I used to have a paper route when I was a kid.
I shouldn't say I had it, my twin brother and I shared the awesome responsibility of delivering the news to the inhabitants of the sleepy little northern town we lived in at the time.
It wasn't like life in the big city.
We weren't just delivery boys dropping the papers off at predetermined homes. No-sirree, we were given an allotment of papers, an area to cover and were told to go door to door selling each paper individually. Try doing that in a northern town in the middle of winter. Trudging through the snow so some schmuck can lecture you about not needing the newspaper when he can watch the news on T.V builds up a lot of bitterness in a young man.
(I'm not even going to mention the fact that back then you could let your twelve year old go around and knock on the doors of complete strangers without a second thought.)
We used to give it a go at the stand alone homes, but let me tell you, if you didn't have your driveway shoveled you ended up being sorely misinformed about the goings -on of the world. The Twin and I would tackle about a block or two of homes, and then we would say "Fuck it" and head for the apartments.
There were three huge apartment buildings in our area. I use the word huge in a relative sense. In a town of about five thousand, a hundred unit apartment building is enormous. We enjoyed working the apartments though, because we were inside instead of exposed to the elements, and because of her.
Normally we alternated knocking on the doors and making our pitch. That is, the Twin would knock and I would be the one doing all the talking. (I swear in all the time we sold papers, he only completed about three sales.) The only time we ever argued about a door was when we came to that special door.
I have no idea what she did in town, where she worked, or if she was just a housewife at home. But every time we delivered the paper she was wearing the skimpiest, most see-through outfits you could imagine. My twelve year old libido was revved up a notch with just the thought of knocking on her door. Some days I felt a bit faint when asking her if she would like to by a paper, just because there was no longer any blood left in the upper half of my body.
The Twin and I would argue for at least two floors before we got to her door. Who knocked last week, who would knock this week, would it be creepy if we both knocked, and if God smiled and we were ever invited in, what he hell would we do?
In the end it never mattered. She would buy a paper, (At least I think she did - I recall giving her papers, but never collecting any money.) we would smile and nod - the door would close and we would pause for just a bit before completing our rounds.
Eventually there came a day when we knocked and she didn't answer. The week after that she didn't either. Then one day the door opened up and there was an old woman standing there and the place reeked like cabbage. We asked what happened to the previous renter and she just said that she didn't know, having just moved in. Dejected, we finished our rounds.
Mysteriously, the week after that, most of our papers were found in a dumpster outside the apartments, and the week after that we no longer had a job.
Our hearts just weren't in the News business anymore.
At least I think it was my heart.