As I have mentioned before, I dominated a paper route for a time in my earlier years. For the most part, I cruised around the neighborhood like a total BA, looking cool and making all of the other kids jealous of my sweet blue speckled bike and fanny pack full o’ cold, hard cash (that would later be passed right along to the newspaper company, but the other kids didn’t have to know that).
See, the newspaper company was kind of an all-knowing powerhouse to me. They dropped off the newspapers, collected the cash every Saturday and called my house if I was late delivering the papers. Looking back, that call was probably a result of a customer calling them first, but in my mind they just KNEW, you know? They ran the show and they could make you or break you. Occasionally I would get my batch of newspapers and there would be one missing, or one that was too ripped to give to a customer, so I would have to buck up and call company to request a replacement, which was terrifying to me.
One particular day, my bike was out of commission so I was doing the route on foot. I grabbed the newspapers and walked them down to the first house and against my better judgement, I placed the papers on the stone wall out front while I headed to the door. By the time I dropped off the paper and turned around, a strong gust of wind had kicked up and was in the process of blowing my newspapers, my LIVELIHOOD, tornado-style around the main road.
It was equal parts horrifying and beautiful. But mostly horrifying.
I started screaming (dramatic? I’m not sure what you mean…) and ran into the eye of the storm, which happened to also be the eye of the road. I started grabbing wildly at the still-airborne papers, but there were so many and they were moving so quickly that it was a fruitless effort. I imagine that it looked like one of those carnival attractions where a person stands in a glass booth and grabs for dollar bills that are being blown around by a fan
except much more panicked and much less fun, because it was at this point that I started to cry.
You may think that this is a slight overreaction, and you may be right, but at the time it was just about the worst thing that could happen. Not only was I totally littering, but now I had to go and call the newspaper company and tell them that I needed 32 extra newspapers. I obviously couldn’t tell the truth since it was 100% my fault that newspapers were now approximately 3 towns over, littering the sides of highways and sticking to peoples’ windshields, probably causing accidents. What have I DONE?! They were clearly going to fire me and then I would have to tell my parents that the family’s reign of newspaper delivery champs had come to a screeching halt like that station wagon that was currently stopped a few feet away, watching the spectacle. So you understand why I was a little upset. The conversation ran through my head as I ran around the street:
“Yes, hello, I’m calling about route 12. I am going to be needing a few extra papers today. There was…not enough papers…from you guys and I need…some more so that I can deliver them…what’s that you say? How many more? Good question. I will be needing about, hmm, let’s just ballpark it and say 32? Yeah, that sounds…What? Yes, 32. Huh, that IS the same number of houses on my route OKAY JUST DELIVER THEM THANKYOUGOODBYEDON’TTELLMYMOMOKAYGOODBYE”
I’m sure you’ll now agree that I was completely justified in my actions. I do recall looking over at the sidewalk at one point and seeing a man standing there with his dog. He was just watching this scene unfold and didn’t even offer to help. I mean, I guess I can understand his hesitation; I’m not sure how I would react if I came across a young girl running around in a tornado of newspapers, openly weeping while clutching a crumpled page 1 in her grubby paw. I like to think that I would drop what I was doing and run in there with her, snatching pages out of the air while explaining to her that hey, it’s okay, I’ve been there and the newspaper company won’t fire her – they don’t actually care, as it turns out – and that her mom will understand, and maybe just put a rock on the pile next time. And I hope that you will now do the same.