Life has a way of circling back on itself, renewing old experiences. My first job, at about age twelve, was as a newspaper carrier. Mounted on my bicycle with the basket on front, I delivered the evening news. Now I’m back at it. This time in the predawn hours and by car.
Call it fate. My long time carrier was seriously injured in an auto accident. This caused her route to be carried by a member of the management staff while they attempted to hire a replacement.
Not privy to the reasons, I became increasing frustrated at having my 5:30 AM paper arrive at 9:00 AM. I met the gentleman tossing the paper at my front gate and asked him what I would have to do to make sure I got my paper on time. He smiled and said, “you could always take the route yourself.” I don’t know which of us was the more surprised when I asked “when and where?”
In retrospect, it was a fortuitous moment. The pay is decent, the ongoing discussion at bill paying time about what is an appropriate amount to spend promoting books is now moot and I have three to four hours each night, totally undisturbed, doing a rote memory task while in my mind I can work out plot development, characterizations and dialogue.
Friends and family members have asked the usual questions: How long is your route? Is it hard to remember who gets a paper? How many miles between brake jobs? However one neighbor went all Schopenhauer on me and asked. “what was the most unexpected aspect of the job?”
I gave it a few moments of thought. Considering that my route is 95% rural, leaving the town lights behind after the first few minutes and taking to country roads where there are no gas stations, no restaurants, not even a single “Stop and Rob” and given that I am transporting an aging prostate over 120 miles of rutted, bumpy road, I had to conclude that the most unexpected aspect of the job is that I find myself, with some regularity, peeing by the side of the road.