I recently had the experience of riding along on my daughter’s paper route. Her route could begin anywhere from between 1:00 a.m. , when the papers arrived, until as late as 5:00 a.m. If, by 6:00 a.m. there were no papers, the phone started ringing at home and continued until their arrival. People could be quite passionate about their morning paper. It was right up there in importance with their coffee and eggs!
This was my second excursion with Sally on the route, however this morning was different than the first. Today we left at 5:00 a.m. , the procrastinator’s hour. Oh sweet sleep that does not want to give us up!
As I shut the door to her pickup, I noticed the stars and the Big Dipper. I prefer a later waking time myself, but there was a quiet beauty this time of morning. Sally had already picked up her papers and slapped a pile on my lap. She turned on a C.D. ,some of that rap stuff, and we were off.
First we putted along the river road. Sally would pull over on my side every so often. I would quickly fold the paper, crank down my window, and slip it in the blue paper box with the pink flagging. Sometimes the boxes were very close together. I would slip one in, then Sally would inch the truck forward until I could reach the next box, slipping in one after another. Usually 4 in a row were the most at one stop.
Her route began at the river road, back across the bridge to the rural highway that ran out of town. Next would come Sam’s Creek, a dark, curling dirt road that went part way up the mountain. I was wondering who the heck Sam was, half expecting to see bear up there, or cougar at least. Instead we spotted a skunk scurrying away with his feathered tail stuck up high like a flag. Glad we didn’t hit him. I did not have enough coffee in me yet to deal with skunk perfume.
Sally backed the pick up down and turned onto one of the creek’s side roads that led back down to the highway, stopping here and there at the boxes, sometimes on my side, sometimes on hers. She pulled back onto the highway, crossing over from time to time to the left side boxes. Once as she was backing up a little, getting ready to pull into the highway, a motorcyclist came flying around the corner. He panicked at the sight of us and swerved scarily away. He then pulled over like he was going to back up and give us what for, but we just locked our doors and continued on. Whew, that was a little hairy.
Sally explained to me the downfalls of leaving later in the morning. Garbage trucks could be another problem, especially if they were in front of you. Sally avoided passing them, as she had heard tales of the robotic arm of the garbage truck ripping through a school bus. She was not taking any chances with those beasts. The garbage cans could also get in your way.
We drove out in the valley past barns, and pastures. We passed the area where the Elk could sometime be seen crossing the road. Elk were so large, they could be pretty startling. It would not do to hit one of them. Great damage could be done.
I noticed my daughter’s keen eye sight as we turned into a gated community’s winding drive. Sally pointed out deer and jackrabbits to me more than once. Raccoons and possums were frequent fliers also.
Occasionally some early bird would be waiting impatiently for his paper at the end of his driveway, while other folks waved as they left their homes early for work. Sometimes turning around on a sloped area would make Sally’s truck stall.
I was impressed with my daughter’s prowess in weaving in and around the back country roads, shifting up, shifting down, backing up and avoiding hitting fences, mailboxes and the like. Her patrons like her, and tip her often.
As we finished and headed back to town, Sally’s truck picked up speed nicely, smoothly sailing back towards home. We passed a sign that said “Adopt a Highway”. By then we only wanted to adopt some biscuits and gravy and head off to bed for a while.
Ah, the secret life of a paper girl…………. Maybe, when you are out in the wee hours of the morning, you will think of it, remembering that she, could be my Sally-O, my daughter, my heart. Maybe you will think of how she swiftly weaves back and forth from box to box, quietly slipping the morning’s news to you, dodging different obstacles from time to time. Maybe you will remember that you may even have to dodge the paper girl yourself………………….