The Paper and The Pit Bull
It was supposed to be a rite of passage. Every boy since the dawn of man had done this. If you were a boy, you had a paper route. It wasn’t just the rule in the 80's, when I was growing up. The boys on Leave It To Beaver had routes. I think even Opie Taylor had a route in Mayberry.
So, once I’d turned 11, I began asking for a route. Easiest job ever, I thought. You just call up the newspaper and the guy on the phone says, “Sure, come on down. We’ve been waiting for you to call for the past 11 years.” I just knew that was how it was going to work. Except, it didn’t.
I called and asked for the route. They told me there were other boys who already had the routes in my area. Hmmm. I didn’t see that coming. So, I asked when they thought new routes would open up.
“Well, as soon as we build other streets and houses.”
Yeah, they had the answer. And I was coming to the realization that this wasn’t automatic. Then, they said those words every job seeker despises.
“We’ll keep your name on file just in case…”
And so, I waited. I waited. I waited for years. I waited so long until I forgot about this whole idea. Well, maybe it was only two weeks but it felt longer.
Then, I got a call.
“Hey Robert, are you interested in doing a route still? One of our boys is sick and will be out a couple of weeks. Then, another one will be on vacation for two weeks. So we have two routes back to back.”
“Yes!!” I thought.
“I’m going to do such a great job, they won’t even want the other guy back.”
Then, they told me the details.
The drop would be at 4am. I’d have to put the paper together and then be on the road to deliver by 5am. This wasn’t so bad during the week. Sunday’s paper had the comics and 6 additional sections. This meant that the drop was at 3:30am and I would have to be on the road by 5:30.
Not so bad.
The first morning, I got everything together and took off on my bicycle. The cool morning air brushed against my face and I felt really important. I came to the first house and deftly flung the rolled up paper with a flick of my wrist. It made a loud bang as it smacked the screen door.
Smashing start. As I arrived at the next house, I decided to adjust my technique and lower the trajectory. Of course, I would do this without stopping the bike as I went floating by.
Hand in cart. Paper in hand. Flick.
Crap! It’s in the bushes and now I need to get off the bike to go retrieve it. I hop off the bicycle, pop the kickstand and run to the gate.
I pop the latch for the gate and,
WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF!!
A boxer/pit bull/German Shepherd/Doberman/poodle/schitzu came galloping around the corner. All of my encyclopedia research on dog breeds merged at that point. My eyes opened wide as my feet made the decision not to wait for me in that yard. That paper was staying in the bushes.
By the time I stopped pedaling, I must have been three blocks away and now needed to look back at my delivery list.
I’d missed quite a few houses. I went back to cover the missed houses. But the glamorous, black and white image I’d had in my brain vanished. A paper route was hard work and I was no longer sure I wanted the pit bull encounter every morning.
I stuck it out and made it through bike spills, paper drops and comic mixups.
But, my first encounter in the real world of work wasn’t the road to fame I’d envisioned.
This is my Day 20 post for the Speak Write Now 30 Day Writing Challenge.
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About The Author
My name is Robert Kennedy III. I’m a leadership and communication speaker, trainer and author. I recently released 7 Ways To Know You Were Meant To Lead on Amazon. Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook or on my website, RobertKennedy3.com.