No Christmas Box For This Paperboy

Some people can prove most irritating, even when you’ve never met them. Take, as an example, the boy who delivers the local papers. I’m talking the advertising rag here, not the proper local newspaper. I don’t subscribe to that. Well, there’s no point; I don’t have any hogs and I’m not a farmer growing corn, and if you’re neither of those the local newspaper is not for you.

The price of hogs and corn is the reason the local paper exists. Often, it’s the main headline. Corn is up, or, hogs are down; it’s what consistently stares back at you from the news stands six days a week. There’s no newspaper on Sunday. The staff are all in church.

That’s the other thing you’ll find in the local paper, besides commodity prices: a list of local churches and the times of their services; plus pages devoted to who’s born, married, or recently deceased. So you see, as I have no hogs, corn, or religion, and everyone in town’s a stranger to me, I have no need whatever of the local newspaper.

Delivering newspapers was the first job I ever had. I was only twelve and very proud of my profession. I took the work seriously. My bag, wherein reposed the neatly folded broadsheets, was a prize possession. I would collect my papers from the shop in the early morning hours and cycle from door to door, popping a paper into each mailbox. It took about an hour before school, and earned me the magnificent sum of fifty-six pence per week.

In Illinois it’s very different. The delivery person drives around in a beat-up old pickup, hurling the papers out the window. Often, they land on the front lawn, or in the driveway. The first you know its there is when you back the car over it, reversing out the garage.

The last couple of weeks it’s been way too cold to get out and pick them up, so they’ve accumulated. You’d think, on seeing last week’s still lying there, they wouldn’t bother leaving another. But, no, a fresh one appears regularly, waiting to be crushed by the wheels of the car.

It snowed heavily last week, six inches or more. Mind, it didn’t last very long. Within a few days a thaw set in and it all melted. It had been no fun trying to reverse the car out over it every morning, so I was glad when it was gone.

This morning I backed out as usual, only to be jarred almost out my seat as the nearside rear wheel hit a huge lump of papier mache welded to the concrete. It took ten minutes with a garden spade to prize free the rock-hard remains of half a dozen advertising rags, chemically transformed into a model Eiger in the middle of my driveway.

Damn that delivery boy.

Some people can prove most irritating, even when you’ve never met them.

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