Paper Boy Blues

It goes without saying that delivering papers is not normally entered into without significant financial duress. We started because our day jobs were not supplying the income necessary to break even, and selling seed required too long and arduous a process (and, really, how can anyone feel okay about foisting their genetic deficiencies onto a total stranger and their progeny?). Our goal is for this blog to bring paper carriers out of the shadows and into the light of a broad, sunlit day.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

600 Bucks A Week Sounded Pretty Good

I’m a paperboy and this is my story. I moved to Manchester because—after 10+ years down south—my Connecticut-born wife suggested that if I wanted to see her or my kids again, we should move back to New England. With loads of family-in-law in Connecticut and a job opportunity in New Hampshire, the distance between the two seemed just about right and I took a job in the Mill District selling consulting services. I’d had luck before selling consumable products, so I wasn’t too worried about learning how to sell something you couldn’t put your hands on. I turned down what seemed like a pretty good job in Dallas and negotiated a salary with the company in Manchester that would reduce my base salary 10% after the first three months, then another 10% after six months, at which time I assumed I’d be pulling in commission hand-over-fist and wouldn’t even notice. I found an apartment to rent in a big three-family on the West Side, and my family and I moved in at the close of August. Things were looking up.

The first cracks in my financial foundation came in October when the whirring in my Saturn’s manual transmission became more than just sinister background music for my short daily commute. My older brother had gifted the car to me for a dollar and it was in good shape in every respect save the rear passenger door that smelled vaguely like upchuck, and now it had a broken transmission that would require sixteen hundred bucks to make new again. Getting the tranny fixed would raise the car’s resale value to approximately fifteen hundred bucks, so I pulled the radio, the spare, and the tail lights (surely I could sell them on eBay) and donated the car to a charity I’d heard a radio spot for. I was without wheels and walking to work for a few weeks before I found a 1988 Toyota pickup truck with only 65,000 miles on it, bought with money from an IRA my wife had to cash out upon leaving North Carolina. The diminutive truck looked like something straight out of a Shriners parade, but for me it held an immediate charm that no amount of rusty, crumbling body parts could take away.

When my first heating bill came due in October it was a bit more than $100. I’d never had an eighty year-old Asbestos daub-covered natural gas furnace before, so I didn’t quite know what to expect. When the next bill topped $200, I turned the thermostat down to 59 degrees and assumed that it couldn’t get much worse. When December’s bill was more than $300 I realized that there wasn’t an ounce of insulation in the house’s external walls and I could no longer pay my heating bill in-full each month. In January, I started to put plastic on all the windows and would have re-insulated my pipes if I could have safely removed the crumbly Asbestos wrap. By February I began to look for a new place to rent, key feature being a furnace that was preferably less than ninety years old. In March, we moved into a rental on the East Side one week before my wife had our third child. The house was built in 1969 and its furnace was manufactured in 1993 (check). We still keep our thermostat at 59 degrees, but this place is so well insulated that now we only have to worry about Technicolor mold in the corners fed by condensation that literally pours off of the windows six months out of the year.

After six months on the job I still hadn’t sold a thing. While I was elaborating on my bosses’ sales efforts and working hard to penetrate a market that no other consulting firms seemed to be interested in, it became evident that the market itself wasn’t interested in what I was trying to sell, either. In early summer, the tsunami of old utility, COBRA insurance, and compounding credit card debts became to great to keep up with and I declared personal bankruptcy. By September, I was making calls to plasma hotlines and sperm banks looking for some other way to augment my income and keep a house over my family’s heads. I heard rumors that the husband of one of my wife’s friends was earning more than $600-a-week delivering papers, and after speaking with him about it he had his supervisor invite me in to see about giving newspaper delivery a shot. I’d never had to not be in my bed at 1:45AM in the morning before, but destitute times called for drastic measures and I remember thinking that $600-a-week was probably what it would take for me to even contemplate taking on a second job at night. I’d already spent the money by the time I showed up the following morning to ride with my future supervisor to get the lay of the land and the rhythm of my new paper route.

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Blogger ComelyMarc said...

Don't forget the promise of $5000 in Christmas tips!!! Great stuff

5:36 AM  

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