Aug 20, 2010

Whoever said "a little hard work never hurt anyone" was seriously misinformed.

"A little hard work never hurt anyone!"

"The Captain of the Titanic would disagree."

I have nothing meaningful to post so I will share the extremely mundane tale of delivering newspapers. Prepare for boring.

My older brother has the job of delivering newspapers, but when he is unable to, the job falls to one of his other lovely siblings. The fact that my sister and eldest brother don't live at home lets them escape from this task. My younger brother used to do it every week with much complaint and despises paper delivery.

So yesterday when my paper delivering brother came down with a rather nasty cold, the job was handed down to me, the second youngest of five children, the only one with monkey slippers. Okay the monkey slippers used to be my sisters but they are mine now.

Awesome slippers aside, I had a job o do. It was a lovely afternoon; the sun was shining, the cloudless sky was a pure blue blanket spreading far above the rooftops (imagery and a metaphor. My English teacher would be proud). The fact that it was a lovely day and that I would be payed for my efforts had me pretty keen to start working.

So there I was: Backpack full of plastic cover newspapers, mp3 on shuffle and my earphones in my ears blaring some awesome tunes. Paramore, fall out boy, Damien Rice, Angus and Julia Stone, Afi, Placebo, Evanescence. . . . A whole range of musicians accompanied me and I was actually enjoying myself.

If you have ever delivered newspapers you may, or may not, have gotten a paper cut or two. I got more than a few that afternoon. At first it didn't bother me all that much. I would be strolling along to the next letterbox (These aren't the kind of newspapers you can throw from a car window you have to hand deliver them to the letterbox), pulling the next paper from my bag then I might get a cut. It would hurt sure but then I would get over it.

I was doing great, the cuts weren't bothering me, the weight of the bag was manageable, I was even in good enough a mood to not skip 'Jesse's girl' when shuffle decided to play it. It was about the time that I was half way through Condon street (I am serious there is a street near my dad's house with that name) when my mp3 died. At least it reached the end of '9 crimes' by Damien Rice before the battery depleted.

I just put it away thinking "It's cool I'll just have to go without music". I discovered that music makes the time go by faster. Without it, time was going at a snails pace. I seemed to get more paper cuts, the uphill streets inclined further as they sensed my approach, the pebbles on the road leaped into my shoes as I passed and wedged themselves in between my toes to make my job more difficult.

Admittedly I was starting to get annoyed. That lovely blue blanket above me was even beginning to be dotted by clouds. When I was about half way done, refilling my bag with the next stack of papers that had been left for me on the street corner, I was rather irritable. A boy that looked about ten years old was peddling his bike nearby.

As I got up to continue my walk the boy on the bike, observant as he was, noticed my bag full of newspapers and asked "Are you delivering the newspapers?". Me, being in my irritable and sarcastic state replied, "No, I am carrying this for fun."

I have to admit the strange look on his face as he said "Okaaaaaay" very slowly, brightened my mood a little. Smiling to myself, I trudged on, glancing down at my hands that were covered in the dark green ink from the papers. The tiny paper cuts were stinging a little, and I had even managed to cut my leg while I loaded the papers into my bag. These inconveniences meant little to me because I was already half way there.

There is a street that makes up about a 5Th of that run. It goes up and down and up hill once more, the mail boxes have small holes and are difficult to spot among the many hedges. There is not a single apartment complex, gated community, or duplex on the street, which meant there were no places that would allow me to off load 5 or more papers at once.

By the time I reached this area, it had grown dark. There are two street lights on this street and visibility is low for a majority of it. Last night I learned that there is also a large dog that lurks there. More on that dog in a moment, I have to tell you the whole story of my adventure on 'Gray Street', or what I like to call it, the newspaper deprived street from Hell.

I got to the bottom of the hill looking into the mouth of Gray street. It seemed welcoming enough with the light from the street I was exiting filling up the first few houses. My bag was full and loaded, though the small tear beginning at the left strap was making me a little nervous.

I was walking uphill into the newspaper deprived street from hell, grabbing papers from my bag, folding them to fit the slots in the letter boxes, slipping them, or when the slots were annoyingly small, cramming them, into the letter boxes, then reaching for another paper as I approached the next house.

By this stage I was powering on like a machine with a heavy backpack; grab, fold, deliver, grab, fold, deliver, grab, fold, deliver. It seemed that my bag wasn't getting any lighter as I dragged my feet up the hill. Grab, fold, deliver. Then something happened that proved, if not supplied very convincing evidence, that Gray street was in fact the street from hell.

Grab, fold, deliver, grab, fold, deliver, grab, fold-SNAP! THUMP! WHATEVER SOUND PAPER MAKES WHEN IT SCATTERS!

I looked down at the road, barely able to see in the lack of light. Before me lay my open backpack, the left strap torn completely free, the contents of the bag spilling out over the road showing me just how many more papers I had left to deliver. I knelt and started re stacking the papers, getting a few more cuts as I did so, becoming increasingly aware of how many cuts I had, shifting my toes to remove the tiny annoying pebbles, wishing like hell that I had recharged my mp3 the night before.

I managed to refill my bag and tie the half attached strap strategically to stop it from flapping around and dragging on the road. I trudged on, annoyance growing strong, the end of the street within my sight, the knowledge that when I reached that end, the street would only be half finished.

After much struggling to stop my bag from tipping out it's contents, and after breaking a, until then, superfluous handle on my bag, I managed to get to another dark corner of the street, to the last few houses on the end. Then I heard a low grumble coming from the shadow of a hedge.

Remember that hugely massive dog I mentioned earlier? The one that resides on the newspaper deprived street from Hell? It was staring at me from the shadows in that moment. I could see it's outline, it's sharp teeth, the small puddle of drool before it's feet. I knew it was there and that it was staring, even though I could not see it's eyes. I have never been good at identifying dog breeds, but the dog looked a little something like this:

OK the dog wasn't actually Cerberus, and it wasn't three headed, but it did scare the living daylights out of me when it barked, growled, snarled and started coming toward me. I don't know if I was more frightened or relieved when I heard the sudden shout of "Oi! Get out of here stupid mutt!" I'm happy the lady was talking to the dog and not the paper girl, but either way the dog went on it's way. Probably to go guard the gates of Hell or something.

I was so startled by Cerberus that I had managed to drop my bag again. The lady that had scared off the freaky hound just said. "Sorry bout that. He's not my dog." Then went on her way. By the sound of her voice, I'd say she was in as good a mood as I was.

I continued on my way eventually, after I tied my broken strap strategically so that it held the papers together. I got back into my mechanical rhythm, sort of, and kept on going with my work through the newspaper deprived street from Hell. By the time I was re organised, I had delivered to every mailbox on Gray street until it was no longer newspaper deprived. Now It is just the street from Hell. Thankfully I didn't run into Cerberus again.

The rest of my trip was mostly uneventful. My shoulders ached from having to hold all the weight of the bag on one shoulder at a time, but the last street was full of gated communities and apartment complexes. At that point in time seeing the row of 14 mailboxes was, in one word, beautiful.

It was like seeing a very short line in front of the ticket booth at the cinema. It was like finding the completed assignment you had lost and were sure you would have to reattempt in class. It was like having a sudden craving for serendipity ice cream and finding a full tub of the stuff waiting for you on your bed side table. It was like walking through a desert and seeing an oasis, a water fountain, a buffet, and a hotel with a sign on the door that says 'If you have been walking through the desert you can spend the night for free.' It was amazing.

If gray street was the street from Hell, then Lake road is the street from multiple mailbox heaven.

There is nothing like the feeling of an empty bag at the end of a long afternoon of delivering papers. My shoulders were aching, my hands were filthy, I had over thirty paper cuts (yes I did count) but I was finished and I had twenty six dollars waiting for me at home.

There you have it, an over dramatised reenactment of my paper delivery job. It wasn't actually that bad, I was just annoyed at my bag breaking. I didn't have any issues the last time I did it, in fact I kind of like doing the job. I just hope next time to have a fully charged mp3, less paper cuts, a bag that remains intact, and no run-ins with Cerberus.

-Rachel the temporary paper girl.

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