Friday, April 29, 2016

The Paper Route

It is a Saturday in 1970, Montreal, Winter, -20F, 500am, and the alarm on my Lloyds clock radio goes off.  I am 13 years old and have to get up and deliver my Montreal Gazette paper route.  I pull on my clothes, a heavy jacket, warm up pants, snowmobile boots, a pair of thick down mittens reinforced with tape, and grab my 2 canvas paper bags.

I walk around the corner to Trenton Avenue and find two bundles of newspapers that the delivery truck thew into a snow pile at about 4am.  I grab the bundles and find the apartment building with an open door, let myself in, and "stuff the papers" in the lobby (combine the bundles of sections into deliverable papers).  I fill up the bags with the 35 newspapers, about 35 pounds, and step outside into the black and cold.  The sun won't appear until about 8am.

I go up Trenton, across Graham, down Brookfield, folding the papers and throwing them or putting them on the right doorsteps.  A couple of times I slip on the ice.  I make sure to follow the instructions of the nasty old lady who wants the paper put through her mail slot (she chews me out every week and gives no tip), and the other customers.  I know the route by heart, and can deliver it in my sleep.

At 630am or so, I am finished and walk quickly back home, because the ski school bus leaves at 730am.  My parents are up and give me a big quick breakfast.  I change into my ski clothes (more stylish than my paper delivery getup), grab my skis, boots, and a packed lunch.  My mother drives me to the bus stop about a mile away.

My friends and I wait for the ski bus in the cold, which always arrives about 15 minutes late.  At about 8 o'clock, as the sun rises, we are picked up for our ride to Mount Whatever in the Eastern Townships for our ski lesson and some time on the slopes.