Thursday, January 13, 2011

Paper routes and high finance

It's been a couple of decades but I still count the homes on 100 East when I drive by — the homes that housed people my sons could count on to pay their paper bills — and the jerks who stiffed them.
We were scraping by at the time and these two young boys were trying to make their own money by delivering papers.
Derek on the road
In theory, they should've been cleaning up because they each had big daily routes plus a weekly and they were pretty faithful in their efforts.
They came home from school early every afternoon and got up early on Sundays to make their deliveries.
They bundled and banded and counted and usually got most of their papers roughly out on time. (There were some days when it would be getting dark and we were still bundling or vacation days when they'd ask a friend to cover for them and we'd come home to find all the papers still sitting in our driveway. But that's another blog.)
My husband was getting brownie points for helping them as well. He'd climb out of bed every Wednesday morning to help Derek deliver the weekly and Marc is not an early morning person.
I was proud of their efforts and their diligence. I appreciated what they were learning about working hard and being consistent.
But I absolutely hated collection. No matter what we did, it was a nightmare.
Because The Daily Herald deemed these kids independent contractors they basically sold the kids the papers at a discount and then the kids got to keep whatever they collected over what they paid for the papers.
It worked out great for the Herald because there was little or no hassle on their end.
It didn't work out so good for us because it only took one or two deadbeats to defeat the system.
Most subscribers paid promptly when these two forlorn kids showed up on a winter's night but there were a few notorious people who either didn't answer the door, couldn't find their checkbook or insisted they'd already paid that month.
It was discouraging and it became an obsession of mine to see that these boys got their fair share of the money.
We'd go back and back. I'd keep detailed books.
Usually they broke even. Sometimes they made about $20 apiece.
Sometimes they lost money which was sad because I couldn't afford to take the hit for them.
So when I drive down 100 East, I still mentally tally it up.
There's Mrs. S. She rarely paid but she gave them cookies.
There's Mr. G. He was downright dishonest and never admitted he owed any money.
Mrs. W. was nice but flakey, sometimes she paid but mostly she didn't.
And on it goes.
You'd think I could let it go after so many years.
But you know...injustice to kids is just so very wrong.

No comments:

Post a Comment