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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Milkin' the Paper Route for Another Day

 
delivering a paper

Well, my attempts to get a decent amount of sleep just keep getting foiled. I'm headed to bed right after I post this. Maybe tonight! Meanwhile, I dug up this piece that I wrote in July 2005 and sent to just a few friends. It was the first time I ever took on this adventure. It seems eerily similar to this week, given that it has rained the past three days and the paper count just seems to refuse to come out right.

Enjoy this blast from the past. Laugh hard for me, or at me- take your pick. Maybe it will make the headache go away. Oh, and if you get a chance this weekend, head over to Duck & Wheel with String for the "Dork Off." Vote for the dorkiest! I have to warn you that Lin confessed to laughing out loud when she saw my entry, but you choose for yourself.

Written July 2005:
Delivering papers is one of those jobs no one ever thinks about until they are the one doing it. Marie has done it, and of course Om is now a veteran too. Me... not yet.

Now, I like to think of myself as a competent person, and I am not happy to make the following confessions, but perhaps you will think it is funny. I've done this route now for 5 days on my own and I haven't got it right yet. I've always claimed that my IQ in the morning is about 47, and so far we have not proved that hypothesis invalid. Poor Omer... I hope he doesn't take too much flak for his substitute being a complete knucklehead. More on this after an interlude of rain.

Did you ever think about delivering papers in a thunderstorm/ downpour? I was soaked to the skin by the time I had made the first 4 deliveries. The papers came really late this morning so almost all the stores were open when I got to them. That means that I take the papers inside rather than leave them in plastic bags outside the door. That was probably a good thing today because the water was coming down in sheets. however, I tried to get the papers inside without getting them too wet. Tried wrapping them in an extra plastic bag, but then what do you do with that after you get it back to the car? I think I should have bagged them anyway, taken them in, and left the wet bag with them. By the time I had made the first 7 or 8 stops at least the downpouring was done so that it was just a steady rain... a fast dash kept the papers from getting wet.

Of course all the residential deliveries had to be bagged. No big deal, but takes longer.

Now think about those coin-operated paper boxes. In most cases these are placed under an overhang so they don't get wet. But not always... and in many cases the box may be under the overhang, but the drip edge is just in front of it... Now remember that the door has to be opened to feed the box. So where does all that dripping water land with the door open?..... Yes... on the inside of the box front where you are supposed to slip a paper for display. Also... we deliver 3 different papers... the Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, and Wall St. Journal. So there may be as many as 3 boxes to service at a stop. So usually I get the correct pile of papers, take them to the row of boxes, lay them on top and service the boxes one at a time. Not when it's raining... unless the box is really protected, because the top of the box is wet. So I put the papers between my legs. So far so good, but then when I open the box door, I've usually been holding the door open between my legs because it's spring loaded... but now I have papers between my legs. Can't use one hand to hold papers, because it takes two hands to slip the paper into the door because that paper holding thing is also springy unless it's one of the 3 boxes with a wire cage... which I disliked until today... at least you can do those with one hand. Oh, and did I mention that there are two keys which appear identical, except that it's pot luck which one opens which box and there is no rhyme or reason to that, so we just try one and if it doesn't work we try the other. So there is no getting out of the rain in a hurry.

Well, Om... Here's today's sad story. I may be getting Dave's Party store right by the time you get home. I have 4 more tries, eh? I left the papers at the wrong door on Sunday. I just seemed to have no memory of that stop when i got there. So on Monday the guy was opening when I got there and yelled at me and showed me the other door. I apologized and said I'd get it right on Tuesday. So I went to the correct door on Tuesday. They told me to take the stack of old papers. I didn't think that was right, but they said so, so I did. Called Mike & Rae in the afternoon, and of course I wasn't supposed to do that so she had to stop in and get all those papers from me. At least I knew which ones had come from there. Wednesday I thought I did it right. Ha. Today when I got there I got yelled at because I had put the Free Press on the top shelf and the News just under it... of course the shelves aren't labeled, and there aren't enough spaces on the top, but we are supposed to just overlap them, but I didn't know that. He said if they are on the 2nd shelf no one buys them.

Thought the paper count came out right yesterday... but then I put Maggie in the car yesterday afternoon to go deliver mailing labels to Deb for our trail newsletter. Right there... how could I have not seen it in the morning?... was an extra News that I didn't deliver to anyone. I know, I know, it should have at least been left at Cherry Hill. So I don't even know how I am supposed to report that. There is no column to check on the sheet for driver stupidity.

This morning Rae said that the home delivery at 370 Runner called and said they didn't get their paper on Tues or Wed, but they did on Mon. That seemed pretty odd because I was sure I had delivered it. Well, when I got there today I discovered that their neighbor also has a Detroit box, but isn't on our route. So the neighbor got a free paper on T & W and the actual customer had to be credited. Totally my fault.

Also today, at the Wesco in New Era I counted the remaining papers, determined that I was going to make it work this time. I've already had 2 run-ins with the Wesco at Shelby that Om warned me about, and I didn't want to make it 3. So I counted everything and made piles, had 2 extra News so I put one in each Wesco pile and marked them on the sheet. Got to Cherry Hill, and discovered that I had not turned the page over to account for them so that's where the 2 "extra" News were supposed to go, so they didn't get any. Can I botch this up any more?

At the Shelby Wesco they are working as hard at messing up this count as they are at making the driver responsible. I've had to find the sheet I'm supposed to sign for them every day since Sunday because I think that girl started the list on the wrong kind of form. Today when I got there one girl said she had already taken the old papers from the rack. I said I wasn't signing for papers I hadn't seen, so I made them show me the tear-offs since she seemed to be guessing about the number she had pulled.

I'm trying hard to be a "good" carrier... taking papers in to people, etc. but I sure can't seem to get this count right. Well, as I said, I have 4 more tries.

Yesterday I just couldn't ever seem to stop feeling groggy. Fell asleep in front of the news between 6:30 and 7, woke up for part of Jeopardy, and the next thing I knew Jay Leno was interviewing Will Farrell. Sheesh. Got up and went to bed. So that means I should be facing today with plenty of sleep, right? You'd think.... but I have a stomach ache, and a fuzzy head again. It's noon and I still haven't done any of my regular work. Knowing that we (Om & me) are still something of a matched set at being late night (rather than early morning) people, HOW are you doing this job, Om? If you feel like I do every day it can't be good. Frankly, I just feel awful all the time... like permanent jet lag or something.

So, I hope you have all had a good laugh, and I hope Om really doesn't get in too much trouble over my mistakes. How can I make so many when I am trying so hard to not be careless?


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5 comments:

Glynis said...

Oh I adore this story, you make me smile Joan!

Thanks for your comment on Scribbles. As I am building my author blog in anticipation of being published oneday ;0, would you mind making the link to that blog please?
http://www.glynissmy.com - Thank you for asking and offering, it is very thoughtful of you.

Ratty said...

This only happens because it's not your normal routine. I'm not laughing because I can identify with this. I have an extreme fear of messing up things especially in new situations where it's reasonable to get a few things wrong. Totally irrational, but I still fear these situations. You'll get better at sorting out those papers.

Mother Goose said...

This brought back memories. When I was much younger, my brothers and I had a paper route. What a pain! Even on Christmas morning, we had to get up, drive to the next town to pick up papers (Daddy drove),and deliver them to farmers all the way to our town. Then the boys and I would deliver the papers in our town. For the one day, Daddy would take the rest to the next little town where people picked them up from the drop-off spot. Only then did we open our gifts and have breakfast. Sounds bad but they really are wonderful memories.

betchai said...

oh, i love this story, thanks for sharing. i too would probably end up doing too many wrong deliveries despite how hard i try to be careful.

Sharkbytes said...

Hi Glynis- Music to an author's ears: "you made me smile." Thanks to you, my friend, for stopping by regularly.

Ratty- That's exactly why I hate it so much. I can't seem to do a good job no matter how many times I do it because I just can't seem to be awake, and then I physically feel really awful the rest of the day too- it's a loser all the way around.

Mother Goose- There are so many people like you who have taken a turn, however long or short, at doing these kinds of service jobs. Glad it is a good memory for you.

Betchai- Thanks for identifying. I don't really like feeling like a dope.

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