I had to give my nephew a hand yesterday, helping to deliver his Sunday newspapers. I know, the print media is going the way of the dinosaurs, but in a way, it's still nice to know that a quaint notion like 'the Paperboy' still exists, somewhere.
Anyways, the work itself is not terribly difficult, just time consuming (particularly the piecing together of the Sunday Staten Island Advance, a process which has not changed since I did it as a teenager). You get your news section and your color insert (the one with the coupons, the Parade magazine, and the special features section) and you have to manually combine the two into a full paper before you deliver them. A messy job, indeed. Especially to deliver something that people could get for free online. Still, the kid has a job, and it builds character and all that, so let's not burst the bubble.
Well, there we were, walking the streets of New Dorp just before sunrise, a crisp October chill in the air. My nephew hates delivering the papers on Sunday mornings because this area of Staten Island has large wooded sections, and these wooded areas hide all manner of ferocious beast like raccoon, possum and the occasional deer. In New York City, this represents the untamed jungle. My nephew is afraid of encountering possum and raccoons in the dark, and I don't blame him, as they can be nasty. Since his parents were not around this weekend (another nephew was playing in a baseball tournament in Maryland), it fell to me to escort the lad on his appointed rounds.
It was colder than a witch's tit in brass bra. Even with my fleece on, I was shivering. I didn't get a chance to take a travel mug with coffee with me, either. The ground was wet and a bit slippery from the frost, and if you weren't slipping on that, then you were sliding on all the wet leaves that have fallen. You could smell woodsmoke someplace. Someone in the neighborhood has a wood-burning stove or a fireplace, I gather.
The work is rather boring, in and of itself. I mean, how much is there to delivering newspapers? Still, it was fun; my nephew has a remarkable sense of humor for an 11-year old, and he's a great kid who is forever asking me questions (many of which are perhaps best left to his parents to answer, but I don't mind giving him the truth as I see it). He's a wonder; bright, inquisitive, funny. I love the hell out of him, and even if it is a pain in the ass to deliver a bundle of dead wood pulp in the cold darkness of a Sunday morning, I still had a great time.
In a way, it's sort of good that people still want a Sunday paper, something solid and tangible in their hands, even if they could get their news for free on the Internet. For many years now, I've been incapable of enjoying the simple pleasures in life, primarily because I have been focused on 'The Big Picture' (or what I thought was the big picture, anyway). But yesterday, shivering, laughing with an 11-year old, doing physical labor in the dark, I had a thought for a moment that there really is no Big Picture. That life is merely a continuous run of Smaller Pictures run end-to-end, and that the idea was to glean from them what you could before they passed by in rapid succession. Maybe now, in my dotage and declining years, I've finally learned how?
Anyways, anytime My Boys (three of my nephews share this paper route) ask for some help on a cold Sunday morning, I'll eagerly volunteer.