When I was in fourth grade, still back in the 1960's, my mom let me sign up for an afternoon paper route to deliver the Mason City Globe Gazette. This is when my paper route education began. (You can see my dad's 1963 Chevy in the background of this photo. I remember the day we got it. I helped wash the old 1955 Chevy one last time before dad traded it in. Dad was a vocational agriculture teacher and taught shop in the 1950's, but in 1963 he became a school administrator.)
Every weekday after school I would have to start my paper route. I learned many things right away. For example, a man who has worked all day will want his afternoon paper ready to read when he gets home at 5:00. The man does not care if the paper boy wanted to stop and play with friends or if the paper boy didn't get started on his route on time. The man wants his paper and he is not afraid to tell a fourth grader not to be late with the paper tomorrow.
Concerning dogs: When a dog begins to chase you, pedal your bike faster and lead the dog away from where the owners can see him. Then let the dog catch up to you, steady your bike and kick the dog in his head as hard as you can. The dog will still bark at you and he may still chase you, but he will not want to catch the paper boy again. If you fail to do this correctly your jeans will get ripped and you may have teeth marks in your leg. Also, if you get scared and do not control your kick you could crash your bike and the dog will end up on top of you. (This is the worst case scenario.)
Another thing the customers taught me is that wet papers are not readable. There is a big difference between getting the paper to the right house on time and getting it there dry. Customers want the whole package: right location, on time and dry.
Each Saturday I would have to visit each customer and collect 50 cents for the week. If they were not home or did not have the money I would have to return later in the day. Customers did not like to fall behind on their bill. They wanted to stay current and would be upset if I let their bill get up to $1 or $2.
I quickly figured out that the more papers I delivered the more money I would make with basically no extra effort. I walked by houses every day that did not get the paper. I started visiting these houses and explaining the benefits of getting the daily Mason City Globe Gazette. Within a month my paper route had doubled. The representative of the paper from Mason City showered me with gifts and prizes and I was hooked.
I delivered papers for years. I was the one who delivered the paper that told of the first moon landing. I remember the headlines when President Nixon resigned. The headlines were simply big block letters that said, "I QUIT." I also remember Hank Aaron chasing Babe Ruth's home run record, and finally, getting to deliver the big one: "715, Move Over Babe!"
I delivered the afternoon paper until I was in junior high. Then, because of sports I moved to a morning route and began to deliver the Des Moines Register.
My education would have been much, much different if I had not had that one last class each afternoon after school. The paper route class that included responsibility, speech, history, money, sales, and, of course, self-defense.
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