Monday, October 11, 2010

Child Labor

I was talking to my mom yesterday and she mentioned that her Sunday morning paper hadn't arrived. It was already noon.

I was a paper boy when I was a kid, and I dreaded Sundays. My route covered five streets with about fifty or more subscribers. Many of those subscribers had special instructions.
'Put the paper between the storm door and the main door.'
'Have my paper on my porch before seven in the morning.'
'Don't walk on my grass.'
'Don't read the comics before I do'

(Wait... that last one might have been one of my sister's rules.)
The only problem with fulfilling all those requests is that the Sunday paper usually weighed about five pounds, and I had to lug them all around on my bicycle. I'd first stuff my front basket with papers, then the rear saddle bag baskets, and then on days that there was a particularly heavy amount of news and advertising, I'd drag a small wagon full of papers behind the bike. Through snow storms, rain storms, and in the heat of summer, I'd do my duty and deliver the news, all for the pay of a penny per paper. The biggest problem with delivering Sunday papers was that I could never get off my bike until I was almost done or the shear weight of the news would slam my bicycle to the ground, and I'd need a crane just to upright the thing.

Now in the age of internet news and dwindling circulation, the Sunday news has shrunk to the size of a large pamphlet. It isn't even delivered by little rosy cheeked boys on their bicycles anymore. Instead, a fat assed guy in a beat up Mercury flings the thing out the window as he zips by at fifty miles per hour. Yet with all the benefits of being an adult in a car, with a heater, air-conditioning, and a good throwing arm, he still can‘t get the paper to my mom on Sunday morning. Of course chances are she actually has her paper, it’s just that she hasn’t looked behind her neighbor’s bushes.


  1. Being a paper boy was my first job at the age of 13. The winter was especially torturous and my hands would get so cold, even with gloves on. I also remember rolling the papers and placing a rubber band around each one. Then stuff them in a canvas pouch attached to high handlebars on my green stingray bike with the green glitter banana seat. Ahhh. those were the days.

  2. Alan, remember that you only had half a route...I had the other half! I had the crabby guy standing at his door with a grouchy face because I was there a little after 6 am! And god forbid if it rained on their papers! Even tho my guy delivers in a car, I still send in a tip with my payment...I remember how much those quarters meant to me!

  3. Okay, now I'm confused. I absolutely do not remember you having some of the paper route on Sundays. I specifically remember doing Glenview, Hubbard, Riverside (I count that as two streets because it curved around and went for three blocks), and Tinley Park Dr. What streets did you do? Either way, I still had five streets.

    Really, a girl doing a paper route. What kind of silliness will you come up with next?

  4. Ask your mother. You were too little to do it all by yourself! I also did a stint as the papergirl at the train station when I was around 10 or 11. I remember getting up in the dark, eating the breakfast that Mom made for Dad and me, and trudging up to the station at 5am. I think my pathetic girl-look helped me get some nice tips!

  5. Also, I delivered papers all week long, not just Sundays!

  6. Okay. Peggy may have delivered papers for a while during the week. The Sunday route was another matter. She being a girl was way too weak to deal with the heavy Sunday papers.

    (I will now step aside and wait for the shit to hit the fan)

    (I hope she knows I'm joking)