When I was a young lad, there wasn't a lot of money floating around my house. If I wanted to buy the finer things in life such as Big Gulps, Gobstoppers, or Hershey bars I needed to earn money. I mowed the neighbor's lawn and worked for my Grandpa during the summer. When I turned twelve, I started delivering the local newspaper.
When I was younger, one of the neighbor kids had a paper route. He would deliver papers in our neighborhood after he got home from school. I helped him out a few times and it seemed like a fun way to earn a little extra cash. Between that time and the time I started throwing papers, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune changed from afternoon delivery to morning delivery. Afternoon delivery is col and fun; morning delivery sucks.
When I started, the route in my neighborhood was taken. I got a route that covered some condominiums and apartments about a mile from my house. I've been by since and they are pretty sketchy. Not the kind of place I would let my twelve-year-old ride around.
Every morning (7 days a week, 365 days a year) I would wake up at about 5:00 AM to find a stack of newspapers and inserts on the driveway. I'd lug them inside and start folding the papers. I'd put the insert in the paper, fold it up and secure it with a rubber band. On rainy days they gave us plastic bags to protect the newspaper. I'd load up my canvas bag, put it on the handlebars of my BMX bike and ride to my area in the dark.
I tried to get every paper on the porch believing that I would earn better tips that way. I got good enough I could throw the paper up to the porch from the street. This worked great unless I hit the screen door. The only sound louder than a hammer falling on an empty chamber is the sound of a newspaper slamming into a screen door at five thirty in the morning. After about an hour of throwing papers, I would ride back home, shower and go to school.
After I got home from school, I would pick up my stack of perforated billing cards, and go to all the customers in my area to collect for the month. I'd knock on the door, hope that someone would answer, and then pray that they had the money to pay the five dollar bill for the month. If they didn't have the money, I would have to come back another day.
Sometimes I would get a tip. Tips ranged from a quarter all the way up to a full dollar. I don't remember how much I earned for the month but it was probably about 50 dollars - not bad money for a twelve-year-old but not much for the amount of work.
There were no days off. Rain or shine, holidays, sick or well - the papers had to be delivered intact to the doorstep of the impatient, demanding customers. If the paper was wet I'd get a complaint. If it was late I'd get a complaint. If it was too far from the porch I'd get a complaint. Fortunately, I didn't get many complaints.
My sisters got a route a while after I started. My Dad drove my sister around while she delivered the papers. A little while after that, we consolidated the route. Judy and Sara got up early and folded the papers. I did the delivery. We did this for about a year and then we wisely quit.
I appreciate the responsibility a job teaches a young man. However, kids have a job. It's called school. My school work suffered when I couldn't stay awake in class. I got my first "F" in junior high.