By John Murphy
Until recently when I gave the ol’ two-weeks’ notice, I was writing sports for a Central Valley newspaper.
Frequently I’d wake up in the middle of the night and head down to the office to get some work done. There in the parking lot folding papers on the hoods of their cars were the carriers … or as I liked to call them, the vampires, because they only came out at night.
Confession: I was once a member of the un-dead. While covering sports for the San Bernardino Sun more than 10 years ago, I picked up a newspaper route in Grand Terrace and reported every night to a warehouse in Bloomington to collect and fold the papers.
Then it was off to GT and its well-kept blocks named after birds like Cardinal and Blue Jay. I was literally driving my father’s old Oldsmobile back then, cruising in a Navy blue Delta 88 with power-lock doors and windows and a strong stereo system as I tossed papers out of by sides of the car.
The route had some quirks. One elderly lady lived at the top of an impossibly high driveway. It was so steep I had to gun my 350 engine to propel my Olds to the top. They say she tipped well at Christmas, but I never made it that far.
Part of the route was in the country and once, about 4 a.m., I tooled up this road to see two deer standing in my path, including a large buck. I’m pretty sure this happened, too, and wasn’t just some flashback from the 1970s.
Sunday was a big paper and we’d pack them into plastic bags so they wouldn’t get wet. But if you grabbed the wrong end of the bag when you tossed it, all of the sections would fly out in different directions and land on the street. I did that like once a day.
I was not the greatest carrier. Twice I had seven-complaint nights which hurt the bottom line because you got fined $1 for each miscue. Figure in the wear and tear on the car and the havoc it played on my sleep patterns and it wasn’t worth it.
After two months I gave up the ghost – not my shortest stint at a job, but certainly longer than my 15-minute career at Safeway, which is a story for another day.