There were two newspapers in our town. The Hartford Courant, which is a morning paper, 7 days a week and the Journal Inquirer, which is an afternoon paper 6 days a week. At some point between the ages of 10 and 13 I had a route with one or the other or both. I think the Journal was my first. I had a route from our apartment complex all the way up to Burnside Musicland. It was easy doing an afternoon paper route – no Sunday papers and no mornings. I was good with that but then I got greedy. I wanted more money so I could buy more posters, buttons and pizza. I got a route doing the Courant in the mornings and I had the other side of Burnside, which was my apartments down to 7-11. Morning papers sucked – and the Sunday paper was so big that I used a shopping carriage. The inserts would arrive on Saturdays and you would have to put them together twice. Once on Saturday (two separate inserts) and then again on Sunday morning when I had to stuff the inserts into the paper.
Collecting was always a pain in the ass. I had so many customers and most lived in one of the apartment complexes on Burnside. This meant that they weren’t home a lot and that I was always owed a lot of money. I used to have at least a few customers that owed me like 6 or 8 weeks and I used to get serious anxiety over it. To this day I have dreams about falling behind in my collection book and people owing me money. First of all I had this huge collection book which was hard enough to keep organized and second, I paid my bill every week so I had already paid for their paper and I was always afraid that I would never get my money back and third I needed enough money to pay my bill on Saturday morning. The DM’s did not like when you didn’t have enough to pay your bill because it meant they had to come back to you later in the day. They had to collect from 60 or so paperboys and girls to cash out and pay their “bill” and when you didn’t have enough they would get highly pissed off. I would learn this first hand several years later when I became a DM myself.
Even though I had to pay my bill on Saturdays – I would have a ton of money burning a hole in my pocket on Fridays. I got into a little routine of sorts. There was a pizza place and bar across from my apartments and down a little ways called Wish’s Pizza. It was mostly a bar and that half was always packed but the pizza side never was. They had a small dining room in back that had a couple of tables and a jukebox. After collecting I would treat myself to a small pizza and soda and a few tunes on the Jukebox – Maybe some Phil Collins (I loved Take Me Home) or some Brian Adams. They never had the good stuff on those jukeboxes. Then I would go home to watch my Friday night shows – Knight Rider and more importantly Miami Vice. Yup I wanted to be Crocket – add it to my list of wanna-be’s. C’mon, how cool was the intro music and sequence to that show?
My son now has a small route with 18 papers in our neighborhood and only three customers to collect from. He doesn’t collect every two weeks like he’s supposed to and I start to bug out when I see customers owing him more than 4 weeks. He’s probably like whatever Dad and doesn’t seem to be bothered as much as I am about it but I found out that anxiety didn’t go away. I did show him all of the cool tricks though like how to tie your carrier bag on your handlebars, how to roll or fold papers and how to throw them. The secret to throwing papers is that they can’t be rolled and banded. You need to fold them in half twice and then put a rubber band on them. That way they’re denser, travel further and don’t roll away. I like to show off by opening the car door to throw a paper and make it right in front of the door. Yeah – my son has a paper route.