It has also been suggested to me that everyone should keep a resume that they will never use, one that has listed each work related experience that have ever had. This will help the job seeker and future job seeker alike have a living document of all their abilities at their finger tips in case the perfect job comes knocking. To that end, I have decided to write about each job I have ever had, both paid and voluntary. I will talk about how I got it, what I did, and mostly what I learned from it. Today we start at the beginning: folding newspapers on my kitchen table.
My first job started with a murder and had property damage and grand theft auto in between. In May of 1976, a grisly murder occurred in the the suburb I grew up in. It actually occurred on the street where I lived. A young woman and her boyfriend brutally killed her parents and brother. One way the police became aware that some thing might be amiss was that the family's newspapers started piling up on their porch.
Shortly after the murders, my sister's friend, who delivered the papers on that route, offered her route to my sister. I am not sure if the murder prompted her decision or not. The route turned out to be a little more than my sister bargained for. She lasted less than a week and sought to give the job to someone else. That is how I became the known candidate. I spent most of the next 4 years delivering papers.
You have to walk before you can bike.
When I first started the route, there was quite a learning curve. I would sometimes have to use 2 or 3 rubber bands before I could wrap a paper without snapping the rubber band. I started out biking my route. I found that I could usually not hit the porch while sitting on my bike and balance other newspapers in my bag. So, I had to get off my bike at every house, (and almost every house on our 2 block route got a paper) deliver the paper, and then get back on my bike. I quickly found I could do the route faster walking than I could on my bike. This was especially easier in the hard winters of the mid to late seventies. Each spring I would try biking again and found with all the practice of delivering on foot, that I could now deliver from my bike with only the occasional missed porch.
Brothers make "interesting" business partners.
I have a brother who is 18 months younger than me. Over the years we worked newspaper routes together and also separately. One fateful morning, my brother and I were quarreling up a storm. I was chasing him around the house. He said something, I threw a paper at him for what I think was the first and I'm sure was the last time. You see he ducked, but my mom's glass plated curio cabinet didn't. Ka-rash. The new glass came from our earnings.
In the winter my dad would sometimes drive us on our route before heading off to work. My dad was in a car pool so even though we only had 1 vehicle at the time it was usually parked in the garage. One time my brother who was probably 11 at the time started taking the car on the route. I wanted nothing to do with it and would rather just walk my route and leave him and his friends to their criminal activities. I did get bullied into going with him on occasion but never drove. This went on for a few weeks and strangely enough, no one ever reported the activity to my parents. I think this was because my dad was still driving us some days and people just assumed there was an adult in the station wagon. One morning my brother got the car stuck in a snow drift and he had to wake my sleeping mother and make her aware of his activities. The car keys were not readily accessible at our house for a long time after that.
I earned quite a bit of money (at least from a pre-teen and early teen perspective) on my newspaper routes and only had to spend a small percentage of paying for my outbursts of anger. I remember buying a fishing reel and a new bike with some of my earnings. The biggest benefit from being a newsboy was that I became a newspaper man. Not a newspaper man in the journalistic sense, although I have done that. A newspaper reader and lover. I had always been an avid reader. But delivering turned me into a newspaper reader. I delivered 3 different papers at one point and was allowed to keep the extras when there were some. I ended up reading almost every paper I delivered in that 4 year period from cover to cover. I learned how to proofread just by spotting mistakes in the papers I delivered.
The traditional role of the youth delivering papers on his/her bike has all but vanished in the 30+ e years since I had my route. It now seems to live on in only in t.v. and movies. When I look back on my first job, I am glad I was paper trained.
Next Time: Status Update