I was six and sitting on the sandstone steps in front of our home on Eccles Ave, no shoes, just socks, when Richard the paperboy passed by. I asked what it took to become a paperboy and he said "nothing, come along." So I went.
Two hours later I returned home, socks filthy, proud of a hard day’s work. My mom stood on the porch with a face that looked like she had seen a ghost. She screamed at me, “Bloody hell, where have you been?! I called the police looking for you!”
She took me inside, spanked me, then sent me to bed. I lied alone and cried for a while until she came back in to console me. She explained that she was mad because she was afraid. I looked her in the eyes and said with a sweet Spanky-from-Little-Rascals voice, “I just wanted to be a paperboy!” All was forgiven. I still use this technique, it works.
A couple of years later my dream came true. My brother and I were hired as paperboys to take over for Richard who had turned sixteen and got a real job. Two days in I realized how much the job sucked. I had to get up at 5am on weekends and deliver heavy newspapers in the freezing winter cold and I only got paid at the end of the month once I had personally collected the subscription fees from customers. The internet does all that now.
I'd like to hope that I learned some good life and business lessons from my first job, but I was a pretty lousy paperboy. I would sleep in on most of those cold weekends and then beg my dad to drive me around to deliver the papers from the warm comfort of our Chrysler minivan. All in all, I only lasted about six months on the job.
Despite all of this, I somehow managed to win the Paper Carrier of the Month Award. I didn't even know the award existed until I won it. It turns out the lady who lived across the street from us was pleased that my brother and I always delivered to her first, so she wrote to the newspaper to praise us for our stellar performance. All you needed was one customer recommendation to qualify for the award.
For our prize they picked us up in a creepy white, windowless van and took us to the newspaper headquarters for a tour, and then lunch at Dominoes Pizza. We also got our picture in the paper with our last name spelled wrong.
For one day I got to rub shoulders with guys like Mark Polhman and Bret Anglesey (see photo), who probably deserved the award. I'm still jealous of Bret for going to Space Camp.
I kept this picture on my bedroom wall for years as a reminder of what you can achieve with a little hard work, persistence and determination, or in my case, just by showing up.