Playful, Pius or Remembered Stuff

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Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Paper Route

It's a rite of passage for a boy to have a paper route.  He learns to have a little responsibility, and gets a Jr. grade lesson on running his own business.  When I was just a lad I had a paper route near my neighborhood in the Crenshaw district in south Los Angeles.  It was not very scary territory way back then, and I was never in danger, except the danger of going into debt.  Normally the boy must buy his papers from the company, and he sells them for a profit.  But if he gets lazy and doesn't finish collecting from all his customers, he is in danger of coming up short of his bill.  Now there was one small  complication to my route, and that was the fact that this neighborhood newspaper was thrown on everyone's porch whether they ordered it or not.  I was told to ask for a quarter a month for this service.  I was begging--soliciting a handout.  Even then 25 cents was not really that much, consequently many people payed me cheerfully.  Others were belligerent and cursed me for cluttering their porch.  So another benefit of this paper route was to learn human nature at ground zero.

Much later in life my boys had a paper route.  One boy prepared with his clothes neatly laid aside the night before, in order to get a good start out the door.  When the other boy did this route he was often heard banging around, looking for socks, shoes or some other necessity at 5 in the morning.  We were living east then, and I had mercy on my boys when it was snowing.  We packed the papers in our VW and I drove the route while they would direct me.  There was an infamous dog at one of the homes, who leaped against the door, barking loudly.  I think he even broke glass in that door on one occasion.  It so happened one snowy day that my third--and smaller--son begged to go with us.  As we came to the home with the ferocious dog, my smallest son wanted to deliver the paper.  There was no denying him.  So he carefully tiptoed up to the door, delivered the paper, and turned to come back to the car, when suddenly this barking, growling beast came racing out from behind a bush in the yard.  Our little guy ran with a panic for the safety of the car, but the dog actually bit him on the derriere before he made it.  He was not really hurt, but he was thoroughly terrorized.  However, he provided a howl of a story that we have never tired of telling.

1 comment:

  1. I saw a black bear while on my route, in our neighborhood up in Anchorage, maybe when I was 11 or 12 years old. Then, another tale, later in life, did an early AM route and couldn't take the early hours one day; and there were the twists and turns of the road, and lost my cookies. Head out the door and... I've seen many, many wierd and stange things on a route. My son and daughter have a route this very day. In fact, I did it for them this afteroon. Whenever I do the route for my kids (pretty infequently), I try to pray for the homes and ask God for some form of outreach and ministry to each home, etc. Many tales from routes. Thanks, Rollie. --Mark Sumpter