It’s 3 a.m. and a moonless sky greets me when I leave my house. The air has turned colder as the calendar has flipped to November. I’ve already worked one job and now I’m off to my second, running on caffeine, sugar and being too tired to care. I deliver newspapers.
This is my city. Well, actually I live in a small town eight miles south of here and I don’t deliver papers to the whole city, just ten or twelve streets in a residential neighborhood so . . . you know what, never mind.
Edgehill, Westwood, Greendale, Prescott, Randolph: these are the mean streets of my route. With ranchers, A Frames, Cape Cods, one on top of another, you never know who you’re going to run into. One morning it was the 70 year old man in his boxers waiting for his newspaper at 3:30 a.m. Another day it was a guy in the dark, on his porch, in his underwear with a cigarette in one hand and a beer in the other, surprised I was handing him a newspaper like he didn’t remember he had a subscription. Then there was the drunk girl who had obviously just gotten home at 4 a.m. and couldn’t comprehend what a newspaper was. There’s the guy walking his dog at 4 in the morning, or another man who was standing along the road drinking a cup of coffee in his bathrobe and slippers. Drunks, insomniacs, and people without pants: These are the hard cases I meet on these rough and tumble streets.
While you’re safe at home in your bed I’m up and out on the roads with ne’re-do-wells and rapscallions. So you enjoy yourself while you sleep, dreaming of tomorrow at your normal job with regular hours and vacation pay and health insurance and weekends off. I’m delivering the morning paper because who else is going to do it? You? You pansy. You wouldn’t have the guts to get up and do this job.
And the complaints I have to deal with. Like the guy who complained that his paper was wet when it was in a tube and it hadn’t rained in 4 days. Or the morning I had car trouble and I had to call my sister to come help me finish the route and ended up finishing 20 minutes late and the one house had already called to complain they didn’t get a paper. Oh, I’m sorry ma’am; did I scar you because I didn’t get your paper there by 6? Do you wake up in the middle of the night sweating and screaming, asking your god why there is so much pain in your life because you couldn’t read Marmaduke at precisely 6:01 am?
You think you can do this job? Ha! I’d like to see you try. No, really, I want you to try because this effing job is killing me. Please take over my route. I’m tired all the time, people are driving me nuts, it’s always raining, I don’t make enough money for the amount of work it is, soon it will be 30 degrees and I’ll be driving around with the windows down just daring the flu to attack me. All that stuff I said earlier about you being a wuss? Just kidding. You can totally handle this job.