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The Adventures Of A Paperboy's Mother

The woman in the doorway is saying, "I don't want the paper except on alternate Tuesdays, and every third Sunday until October 1. Steve stands on her porch, looks bewildered, and turning to me as I wait in the car he says helplessly, "Mommmmmmmmm!"

You haven't lived until you have risen at 5:00 a.m. to drive your eleven-year-old son on his paper route. First, through bleary eyes, I have to count the papers which have been left in our driveway by some insomniac. Steve, who gets an A in Math, somehow can't count to thirty-three at that hour of the morning. And nine chances out of ten, there are some papers missing anyway. That insomniac may be early, but he sure isn't particular.This means digging up 60 cents and taking a drive to the paper store.

Now with the papers stacked haphazardly on the front seat of our car, we are ready to start out journalistic journey. The people who make those tv commercials showing the paperboy whipping papers from a bike certainly don't live in our town. First of all, due to the early morning traffic a kid on a bike would be mowed down before the end of the first block. Also, Steve's customers want papers folded neatly and placed by hand under doormats, in mail boxes, or between doors.

Steve, with fingers that can tie flies with amazing dexterity, can't seem to fold a newspaper, so I am in the car doing that while he is on the porch trying to figure if this is a doormat, mailbox, or between-the-doors house.

The hardest part of the job though is the weekly collecting. Either there is a conspiracy against paperboys in our town, or all the residents have won the lottery the night before. It is all I can do to scrape up $3.25 in pennies and nickels to pay our paper girl, and Steve's customers seem to have an endless supply of tens and twenties. Have you ever tried to explain to an eleven-year old how much change Mrs. Smith gets from $20, while jumping out of the car to kick Mrs. Smith's poodle who is chewing Steve's leg? It also means taking so much change with us that I'll be able to apply for a position as a Brink's driver should this job end.

Tips are another part of this wonderful job which drive me up the wall. I must take a separate container to hold them, or I hear nothing from Steve but "You owe me 17 cents from Mrs. Tuner; 37 cents from Mrs. Kimball; and $1.19 from Mrs. mcGuire because she over paid last week and I gave you that 67 cents, remember?" I'm just about ready to return to school for a course in Advanced Math.

Then comes Saturday,and it is time to pay the dealer (or the piper, however you look at it), who arrives on our doorstep at some ridiculous hour. This is great fun because of course not all the customers have paid, either because they are not home; didn't get their check; didn't cash their check; or they have come down with a serious case of fallen arches or velocipede of the chest. This means I have to make up the difference out of my household money, and Steve has to go back for the second, third, or foutth time. He is too busy collecting matchbook cars and baseball cards to collect such a mundane thing as money. Besides, every 11 year old thinks their parents' bank account is second only to Donald Trump's.

When it is vacation time, we have to find a substitute for Steve so we can take a well-deserved rest. The kids who have been turning green with envy all year at the fact Steve has a job, have all disappeared. I feel like asking the mailman if he would like to moonlight. When I am lucky enough to find someone,after vacation our phone rings incessantly from people who didn't get their paper; got the wrong paper; or would like a paper from now on since a paper had been delivered in error.

The original idea was that a paper route would be benficial for Steve and would teach him discipline, self-reliance, and independence. I remember the same reasons were considered when we got him a dog. The other day when I asked him to feed it, he said "What dog?" The truth is, since the inception of the route,Steve is getting richer and sleepier. I am getting disciplined, self-reliant, and independent. As a matter of fact, if I try really hard, and continue to do a good job, during the next newspaper promotion I might be able to win the 80 points to get my very own skateboard.

Submitted by:

Barbara Ann Adams

I am a freelance writer and have had many articles in magazines, newspapers, and books. I also wrote jokes for Phyllis Diller. Do you like to write? Go to http://canwewrite.blogspot.com




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