Saturday, August 29, 2009

and the rains came down and washed it all away...

The worst part of my job of delivering newspapers is not the 2AM start time, nor the 364 days a year, though that is hard to handle. Nor is it the cold winter nights, the ice, or the wind and rain - those are fleeting in the grand scheme of things.

The worry of running into a skunk usually amounts to nothing as they amble off, in search of more garbage. Waving the paper in front of you helps to dispel the occasional spider web. You learn to lift your feet so as not to trip over kids' toys, or garden hoses, or small plants left in your way that you cannot see in the dark. And to listen for that telltale sississ of the sprinkler system starting up before the water streams out in an unknown direction that could likely be where you are standing.

I hate running into people in the elevators. I am tired and dirty and sweaty and don't smell nearly as fresh as they who are newly awake and recently showered.

No, the worst part is the ever present markings of newsprint. It gets everywhere. And by everywhere, I mean everywhere that you touch. Your face, your hair, your clothes, the apple fritter that you stupidly decided you needed, the door that you push to open, the handrail, the switch plate, the taps ... and most irritatingly, the steering wheel. Because once it is on the steering wheel, the whole dirty process starts over again every time you are in the car. It is not easy to wash off. It takes a lot of furious scrubbing. Dish soap is often the best for getting through the grime. But there is almost always still a touch of it embedded within your fingerprints. Dark grey water droplets get all over the sink and the counter and walls and mirror if you are stupid enough to automatically shake your damp hands before drying off with a towel. It goes without saying that I have no white towels.

Oh, I know, there are ways around this. I could wear latex gloves - some people do - but I find them irritating and they never fit properly on my short fingers. And that wouldn't stop the problem of newsprint getting all over the steering wheel. I could wash the steering wheel every morning ... but we all know that is not going to happen. I could have Wet Ones (or equivalent) and use them after every twenty papers or so, but that would just make my hands sticky. And eat into my time and profit because I'd be going through an awful lot of them with 320 papers a night (400 + inserts on Saturday).

Last night (Saturday morning delivery) had to be one of the worst. Not only did we get lashings of rain pissing down as if the gods (all of them) were pouring out buckets, but I 'scared' two - 2! - skunks who were playing in the puddles. I can still taste the acrid smell in the back of my throat, though I don't think they sprayed very much and at least not directly at me or my car. I backed into a bright yellow bollard that I couldn't see for the heavy rain and fogged up windows, denting and scraping the new paint job on the rear bumper.

BUT, it was my last night for one of the papers. It was not easy to decide to give up a contract job (though after last night...). I know that I am tired of being tired all the time. There are so many other things I would like to do - like take a few more little holidays. Go to a few more fall festivals. Stay up late and watch Jon Stewart at 11 instead of at noon the next day. I can replace the exercise (?!) I'm losing by going on early morning hikes. There are over 100 waterfalls to explore in the city of Hamilton. And my car will be just a little bit less dirty.

I will hopefully fit in a few more massage appointments to pay for the car repairs.....


  1. Do I have a newspaper/skunk story for you! Don. Dark. Newspaper. Skunk. Spray. Don. Inside with sprayed newspaper. Inside the house. Did I say he came inside the house after getting sprayed on his leg and the newspaper. Brought the newspaper in the house. After a few days of that smell we discovered that Fabreeze really does work.

    I am fascinated by your tidbits of the life of a newspaper deliverer that I had never thought of. The newsprint all over everything. Yes, that would strain patience.

    I hope you have fun with what you want to do in your spare time now.

  2. Bless you for being up so early. I know our paper is here around 5am. I know exactly what you mean about newspaper print...I HATE it! My husband put a damp paper on the kitchen counter, I can still see it after scrubbing several times and I can't stand it on my hands!
    I hope you will enjoy your extra time.
    Sunny :)

  3. People don't think about how their newspapers get delivered and are there so early in the morning. They nostalgically imagine a newspaper boy on a bike with a bag of newspapers over his shoulders. 400 Newspapers are a lot! Plus all the inserts, I imagine that's a lot of work. The ink doesn't bear thinking about. I can't get the picture of you scrubbing your poor hands out of my head.

  4. I'm glad for you that you can give yourself a break - that's a very difficult job. I once dated a guy that delivered papers and I felt like I never saw him.

  5. The ink has a distinct smell too. Does the smell stick around strongly?

    Latex gloves leave a smell at least if no trace of ink, and they would dry out your hands I think.

    Sorry about the skunks. :(

  6. 2 AM?!!!!! You need a medal. Skunks to ward off as well! Makes our paper boys sound as though they are in clover!

  7. Maggie May is right. You deserve honors. Only saints begin work at 2AM. And giving up that ridiculous hour is enough to make you less tired. People are not meant to be up and functional at 2AM.

  8. I love newspaper delivery people! They are awesome for all the above reasons. We have a really great one who never doesn't deliver the paper. Now sometimes it gets covered up by the snowplow or drifted over, but that isn't his fault.

    May blessings rain down upon all the newspaper deliverers of the world!

  9. Oh yes, Ruth, Febreeze is wonderful. I used to keep a bottle in my glove compartment.

    I don't think people who have white furniture, Sunny, can possibly be newspaper readers!

    Irene, I know - the number of people who ask if that is how I deliver the paper! They don't think about how long it takes. When I was a kid I used a wagon but it was only around my block.

  10. I forgot to mention sleeping through some of the best parts of the daylight, Char. It does make socializing a bit difficult.

    Yeah, I cannot imagine wearing gloves, too much of a nuisance. I don't really notice an ink smell, Amy, but there is an odour in the car from all the paper.

  11. Maggie May, clover sounds good to be in!

    Ah thanks, Miwise! On weekends, the people I see up at 2am are often not very functional.

    I hope you give your carrier a nice Christmas tip, Susan. We live and serve for those tips.

  12. That is really interesting that your job is a little bit different than the norm. I would have a hard time getting used to the hours. When I did work I like the 5pm - 1am jobs. I could care less about night life but I liked having the days free.

  13. Hmmm...we seem to be on the same wavelength here. Are you an Aries?

  14. Having my days free is a great thing thing, Berni. And I'm only working about 4-5 hours.

    No, Geewits, but I should have been. I'm a late Pisces.

  15. I can't imagine doing those hours 364 days a year!! Canadian paper delivery people must have one of the worst jobs around!

    Our papers come, if we are ljuckt, in time for breakfast - 7.30 am. Later if its the school holidays! Most deliveries are done by school kids.

    You deserve a rest!

  16. 7:30 am sounds a reasonable time to me, Gilly. Ours are 5:30 or 6 am. But, the advantage to that is that you are finished before traffic gets heavy. And yeah, not having Sundays off at least is a pain - and a nuisance.

  17. Wow!

    Our weekend papers arrive rolled up and wrapped in Glad Wrap - difficult to unwrap but it keeps them dry!

  18. Oh, I remember that, Scott! The paper is all curled and won't lay flat anymore. And no throwing at the end of the driveway for us either - at the front door or in the mailbox only.

  19. You go girl... If I were in hamilton I'd be your first new client.

  20. I hear our paper being delivered with a 'thunk' about 4.20am most mornings, this morning I was awake listening to the rain and wondering how on earth it would be to have to be out in that! Now I know, hope you get to enjoy more 'me time' for yourself!

  21. Violet

    I wish you all the best for this change in your life,

    happy hiking days ahead...

  22. ...the long arm stretch across the front seat or the driving on the wrong side of the road would get to me too...that is really one difficult job! I enjoyed the good old days when the paper boy (or girl) was a local teenager riding a bike and who came around collecting once a I'm dating myself aren't I!

  23. Sorry, I'm not getting any email alerts for some comments for some reason....

    anyway, the rain really sucks, Sagittarian, it is worse than the cold but not as bad as the ice.

    Thanks, Delwyn.

    Oliag, that reach for the papers (and the folding of said papers) has done a number on my right shoulder. And for the record - the collecting was the absolute worst part. Luckily it is all office pay now, so no more repeated begging trips to get paid.


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