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What's in a job? 2021-01-12 02:53:53

Paperboy - my first job.

It was a daily slog that started early in the morning. The paper was expected to be on a subscriber's porch before they awoke. If I could get it there by 7am, I felt pretty good. Then, I could head off to school by 7:40 and be playing my sax in first-period band by 8:05.

Here are some tasks of a paperboy:
1. Wake up
2. Un-bundle the stack of papers and any "insert" advertisements.
3. Put the insert inside the paper, fold, and rubber-band
4. If it's raining, put the papers into poly bags.
5. Put the papers into a shoulder bag or bike basket
6. Start delivering the papers. Either use your memory of who's subscribed, or mark up a neighborhood map.
7. Repeat 7 days a week.



1. Blurry-eyed because nobody told me getting to bed on time and sleeping properly was a thing. In fact, I don't thing people knew about sleep back then. This was 1985. The first Macintosh computer had come out, but sleep really wasn't something people knew about. <grin> (thinking of
therealbrandonwilson
 )

2. I had about 70 customers, so there were usually two bundles of papers and a corresponding number of inserts.

3. The manager of the area actually sold us the rubber bands. I didn't know anything about business back then.

4. Sometimes the papers would fly out of the bags -- and get wet. :-(

5. It was such a small neighborhood. I'm not sure why I always tried to carry them all at once. It wouldn't have been more than two minutes to pop back to the house for a second load.

6. Sometimes you'd throw one on the wrong porch and be short. It wasn't a big deal, but not good customer service.

7. This was a doozy. I did it alone. I had an older sibling, but she was studying abroad at the time. I finally convinced a neighbor to get up and do it with me a couple of days each week.

Bonus material:

One weekend, a friend stayed over. He was the most athletic friend I had and he thought paper delivery was a sport. The Sunday paper was much bigger than every other day and probably weighed in at 2 to 3lbs. On that day, I'll never forget the fun. He tossed one paper so hard it went onto somebody's roof. Another one, he through like the hammer throw you see in track events. He aimed straight for the double doors, did a spin with the paper in both hands and unleashed it at the target. Something gave way and the door flew open upon impact allowing the paper to land inside the house. The door had enough momentum to close itself. A paper delivered inside. I never heard any complaints from the customer.

Every Monday, one local store bought a huge advertising insert. I wasn't smart enough to realize this happened every Monday. I didn't realize people waited around to see the ads. I always figured they were just unwanted random junk - and just more work for me. As I was running late that morning, I saved myself 15 minutes by not inserting the ads and just dumping them in the bin. One lady called and said she didn't receive her insert. "No problem Ma'am. I think I have an extra. I'll bring it right over."  <digs one out of the trash and promptly rides it over>.

What fun jobs have you had?
Replies to What's in a job?

More from Brian Ball

I like this very detailed summary of the life of a paperboy. The closest I got to a paperboy as a kid was playing the Nintendo game. I agree with you, not much focus on proper sleep in the '80s. I am working on my own collection of posts about my own career history.
2021-01-12 16:37:20
This reminded me of when Joe Rogan was talking with the sleep expert -- Matthew W-something maybe walker? brandon would know -- And there was a moment when Joe was like "Holy fuck! I remember losing so much sleep back then being a paperboy. And that's prob why this and that." 
2021-01-12 16:44:19
I remember that interview. Matthew Walker, author of Why We Sleep. 
2021-01-12 18:20:09