The Paper Route

 

There was a point when I was in elementary school that my mom was pretty much my best friend. When I first started school and she still had her paper route she would sometimes let me stay home sick so we could play hooky. We’d get McDonald’s for lunch and rent movies like Splash from Blockbuster. We’d laugh and joke. Probably make fun of things as we were wont to do. There’s a scene from the movie “Say Anything” when Diane Court’s father is trying to figure out what’s going on with her and he implores her, “You know you can say anything to me.” That’s how it was with my parents, I could say anything to them. 

I remember once I got old enough to start going out with friends and start making big girl mistakes they sat me down and told me: No matter what you do, what happens in your life whether you kill someone, get pregnant, rob a bank, anything. We will help you. I never forgot that.

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Trailer Haven

When I was really little, before I started school, mom worked a paper route and many times I would go with her. She would wake me up at three in the morning, make us each a cherry Pop-Tart wrapped in a napkin and a little glass of milk for the road. We would drive out to a bank where all the paper deliverers met and rolled their papers for the morning. Then we would drive through the Trailer Haven trailer park while it was still pitch dark and mom would cruise through the lanes and whip the papers out the window of her Toyota while she played Fleetwood Mac.

Thunder only happens when it’s raining … players only love you when they’re playing

The balmy night air flowed through the car. We pulled in to deliver the paper to a corporate office and along the drive, the rustling trees lit by amber lampposts smelled like cinnamon. I hung my head out the window and soaked in the ethereal experience. I wasn’t allowed to be up this early, but here I was, riding shotgun next to my favorite person in the world. Sometimes we’d see glowing eyes illuminated in the headlights and a small deer would bound away from the road into the trees.

The old folks in the retirement park loved my mom. She would deliver them Christmas cards every year and they would tip her handsomely.

But there were exceptions.

One woman, we’ll call her Mrs. Spivey, didn’t like where her paper was positioned on her lawn. She had no plan to purchase a newspaper box to mount below her mailbox, like many of her neighbors did. Instead she demanded that her paper sit neatly on her front door mat so that she didn’t have to walk outside to retrieve it in the morning. This would mean that my mom would have to stop her route, park the car, get out and hand deliver the paper to the woman’s door. Clearly, Mom would have none of this.

Mom continued to deliver Mrs. Spivey’s paper as she did all her other clients. Then one day Mrs. Spivey called and complained to Mom’s boss stating that she was disabled and unable to retrieve her paper although this was highly suspect. Neighbors had seen Mrs. Spivey carrying groceries from her car just last week.

After several more calls and complaints, June Kellner had had enough. That night it rained so hard that the ground at Trailer Haven was soaked. Rather than whip Mrs. Spivey’s paper up to her porch as she normally would, Mom backed up the Toyota into her front yard and laid wheels, flinging mud all over her the front of her double wide.

I don’t think Mom delivered papers much longer after that night, but it was definitely the most punk rock thing I had ever seen. Don’t mess with The Kellners. 

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