Special Delivery

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My travails as a delivery carrier for 6 years. And my thoughts on information.

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Special Delivery

  1. 1. Special Delivery: A Newspaper Memoir by Jason T. PowersSpecial Delivery © 2010 Deep Center Field Press, LLC.
  2. 2. The role of information in humanitys march to a closeness to a higherpower has come through our inventiveness and inquisitive nature.Gutenberg created a stir with his printing for the masses. It certainlyhelp seed the knowledge of regular folk in the countryside as the HolyWrit came to be nearly the only book one had at the family farm. Manya night was spent by the lantern learning verses that reinforced howlittle we really know about the spirit above, yet we can repeatmantras that should be a guiding light to a better humanity.Thousands of years prior, the Babylonians were placing labels on thestars above. The oddballs of the sky were planets: Mercury, Venus,Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Mercury was tied to communication; andanytime this planet was perceived to move backward, goingretrograde, communication was thought to go awry. The othersintertwined in their dance through the constellations, sending outtheir own signals about what humanitys plight was at any givenmoment. Judaism, Buddhism, and Christianity soon supplanted theastrological for various men; others would still look to the stars fortheir answers.In modern times, as a newspaper delivery man, communication ismuch much better. No day goes by without an exponential growth ofknowledge to go along with the irrelevant quips and quotables. Sadly,we rarely know which is which, in the present, or even in the yearsahead. When the media machine flubs up this informational system,“the presses going down”, many people spend their momentsuncomfortably standing around having to engage each other withoutthe crutch of information sorting coming between us. The raremoments when humans have to be humans – and interact – as we havemarch ahead into the 21st century since a man name Jesus Christ waspresent on the Earth.This media madness has evolved as iPads, the Internet, and Googlehave superseded Gutenbergs mechanics and the astrologicalBabylonians. The mediums we use to get the daily scoop have taken
  3. 3. on a gizmo, wiz bang electrical mode. (For Your Information Uranus For Information:was discovered in 1783ish. Around the time Ben Franklin helpedAmerica come about and the electrical experience was becomingmore and more understood. Uranus became tied to the oddball,electricity, and the mid-life crisis many people experience in theirearly 40s – when Uranus reaches half its orbit from where it was whenyou are born.)The nightly news recap has turned into 24-7 scroll of tidbits ofirrelevancy that people tweet, post on Facebook, blog about, or leak“Wiki” style to the horror of the State. The old printing press groans inthe corner still. Still pumping out the pulp, the “fish wrappers”, the oldand semi-edible information for those accustom to that old schoolway. It makes sounds the computers of the world dont. The clicking,rhythmic thumps of papers printing, coalescing, and bundling togetherall the ads and stories that people likely enjoy at least for a cosmicsecond.Meanwhile, the Internet hums, as these printing presses of the worldwork on cluttering your house with more low-grade paper junk, themiddle of the night should be a time for sleep and dreams andrepairing of whatever ailed you during the waking hours. Thenocturnal place to give away stresses and stirrings of unfortunatetidings and brash assertions that one is supposedly nicer than thenext person, if only for an alleged gain in self-esteem, or upwardmobility in a career.It also shouldnt be spent dwelling on the mistakes and missteps andthe disenchantment of being alive while buttressing a bruised egowith wisecracks and crooked smiles. This practice is done to give usenough time to figure out how to escape whatever jam weve managedto put ourselves into once again. (I do this on a bi-weekly basis: itscalled payday-to-payday living.)
  4. 4. But this too is the newspaper delivery mans drudgery in throwingyesterdays news on the stoops of your everyday man. The world doesnot work quite so neatly for the nocturnal workers. The world justreminds us nightly of the misdeeds, drudgery, hardships, tragediesand downfalls of people just like us, only different: they are the news.“Hey buddy, youre driving on the wrong side of the road.” A 20-something cop with a days growth surmises I am an inconsiderateclod, looking for death via a Who made Who, Stephen Kingconfrontation with a semi.“Getting out of the car 300 times a night and crossing the streetwould be dangerous too.” I retort with 257 friends in the car waitingon me.Cops dont like retorts. With all their higher education and lawenforcement codes, they assume that anything a person respondswith is a lie. Meanwhile, they are more than capable of immorality asa few angry ex-wives can attest to their ex-cops late nightextracurricular activities.“You gettin smart with me?” The cop correctly assumes thesmartness of staying in the car.“No, sir,” I reply.“Well, if I see you doing it again, I will impound you.”“Yes, sir.” Meaning: Cocksucker, if I could do anything else in life, likebe a porn star and screw all day the young version of Jenna Jameson(you know, before she put the Titanic life boat around her mouth), andyou (the cop) werent roughing up the suspect while dreaming ofdunkin your donut in her Heartbreaker-tattooed butt, I would do thatjob with a smile-if-your-horny-and-know-it attitude. But alas, I get to
  5. 5. listen to a lecture from a bottom-rung dolt that will (if the stars(dis)align) become a local police chief. And the world will be a morescrewed up place for it.“Youve been warned.” And rightly so.In the four years hence, Mr. Police Chief wanna be is still out onpatrol, and says nothing. And so am I.The news from across the pond brings home how unfortunate Americais. Every night, BBC World News comes on the radio at 4AM, mid-route. That Americans are seen as stupid, ignorant, and selfishwithout a discernible hint of a smidgen of regard for where the rest ofthe worlds inhabitants duly go about their daily tasks of living anddying. The not-so recent events of 2001 clouded and mired what littlejudgment remained in American politics and government.“Another day that is the nightmare of Darfur...Zimbabwes RobertMugabe refuses to step down...Rebels in Thailand are seekinghelp...Pakistani leadership barely functions...Russia has an interestingpower-sharing deal...China is growing at 9% a year...Iran has a $50Billion infrastructure deal with China to build oil pipelines...Venezuelais holding military exercises with Russia and exporting nearly half itsoil to China...Britain no longer has it own independentcurrency...Americas financial sector collapses due to their ownmisguided attempts to buttress economic growth through debt-ladeninvestment vehicles that were spread like a virus around theworld...10 Trillion dollars in investments and stock prices have beenlost in the richest country in the world.” These are headlines of thelate Aughts of the 21st century.The hours of U-turns, backing up, and driving 5 miles out of the way toa farm house in another state gets you thinking weird. In thisparticular area code where skunks, raccoons, foxes, rabbits, deer anda huge barn owl are the only friends a paper carrier has, a certain
  6. 6. oddball task focus over assembly line repetitiveness is promoted.Even if a delivery route is just a really, really long assembly line ofsameness like Henry Fords Model T miracle meeting the staleassemblage of news. The latter is just a bore. The former theeccentric genius of a man with a seventh grade education and quirkyviews on all things secular and spiritual.So instead of any singular focus, I defend the actions of Americansinstead.Hey, we were attacked. We got to do something about these Cretans.There isnt anyone else to be the worlds cop. We were just spreadingDemocracy using Capitalism.But the logic breaks down. We shouldnt go it alone. We shouldntattack a country that had no hand in our security breach. We failed totake harsh stances on banana republic dictators, and gave awaynearly all our industry for zero Democratic gain in the largestpopulated country. We failed to regulate an industry that worked wellsince FDR was our President.The sun slowly sets on a once indomitable nation while a firebreathing dragon comes clearly into view: China.The route is nearly done as the sun creeps slowly into view. I was lateagain today – as our business is failing under the pressures ofcompeting online media that doesnt have those pesky mechanicalproblems fixed by Snyder from One Day at A Time (if you haventwatched it, you are a lucky, younger soul) – and my customers frownat my seemingly cavalier attitude about getting them their hard-to-pay-for news that they could have all ready known for free.I cringe the day they figure that out because Ill be unemployed.But then again, it is Americans we are talking about.
  7. 7. Even mid-summer – with the seventy degree temps and warminvigorating breezes – I can only encourage so much escapism while Idrive.The curvy waitress with brown eyes and curly hair that caught my eyeas she smiled her way through another $2.13 per hour shift plus tips.This realization I am 35, not 25, and shes 20, not 30. My thoughts ofher kisses and softness, the beauty (and scent) of a woman desirablein her fragility and innocence. (Even when she is not so pure.)I remember being 16, and another young lady, only 15, who put the Xin sex, as I put the Y in pussy. I was lost without an apple, or a roadmap to her vaginal treasures. (And she was only padding (her bra) andher resume that soon included two divorces, two brats, infrequentchild support/alimony payments, and flavors-of-the-weekend that shegets the bang for her buck out of in some coked-out way.) rub:There in lies the rub to want to be that Romeo, but lacking thoseabilities to be the “Where for art thou” for the hopeless romantic,Juliet. The passion of a lifetime drilled down to a series of seeminglyinconsequential acts, words and after thoughts lived over (and over)again in the hopes of resorting them out, only better. It is to be or notto be while all the world is a stage where we are but merely sad (andlost) players. Just give me my skull back, Hamlet.But oh, how the mid-summer nights dream also brings you back tothose lost adventures of being a teenager. John Hughes films, slowsongs sung by guys with girlish curls, your first car with dirt and dentsand a too small back seat. Cruising some strip of town over and overagain. Short shorts. Drive-ins. Malts and shakes. Malls andlettermans jackets. Even a ballpark, or football field bleachers for amake-out session blend into the montage of images of teenagetomfoolery.
  8. 8. The weather makes or breaks the route. Your delivery time goes asthe road conditions and wind conditions go. In an ideal place, like aTahiti or Bermuda, an idyllic setting would exist for slinging the goodnews. To compose the best of weather and places, anyone could enjoya night putting out papers, adverts and other ink products for therustics.Id move to anywhere near the equator to make a buck doing thetropical news shuffle. Hurricanes? They just interrupt work for awhile. Like a vacation where you have to become a Gilligan to survivea 3-hour tour. Ill bet you need a little buddy during a Cat-2 dilemma.Going native, would be my cup of Corona. To have a daily taste ofwarm weather, Tahitian tans, bananas, coconuts and no snow ever,that, my friend, takes away many a stress, even in a whirlwind, nowand again. (With sincere apologies to those that have lost the mostfrom names they will never forget.)No matter the night sky, lunar eclipses or the Leonide meteor shower,you can never resist thinking about new career options. The soon-to-be life work of a crazy paper person is to figure out how to make more(while doing much less) in their day in, day out profession without aholiday. (I havent had one in 6 years.)You try to divine what could provide that escape from the reality. Visitan astrologer. Enlist the prayers of a Priest or Rabbi. Or maybe visit anashram while someone else slings papers for you.Most often, the theory of writing flits into view. Ideas of screenplays –“Madoff” Ponzi schemes gone bad, lottery fixes, a Caribbean-to-LAadventure, mayhem, murder and money, ah, thats the $10 movieticket – are slow burning under a nearly eternal sun that hides half thetime. Books – sports, biographies, scandals to expose, fictions ofmean people beaten by heroes that arent always – blur, at first, intoview, become clearer, but then inevitably evade your mind for just
  9. 9. another night. Poems – ah, theres enough bad rhyming and reasoningto go around in music – no need to add to that. Im not Maya Angelou,Pablo Neruda, Allen Ginsburg, or Sylvia Plath. (Sadly too, there is nomoney, Honey to support the baloney, Maloney. See, there you have it.)I think again of practicality. Warehouse supervisor. Systems manager.Bartender. Bouncer/Muscle. Singer/Songwriter/Musician. Entrepreneura.k.a. struggling, small business person with anemic sales that meanyou must work another job tootoo.There just too many things that dont really require education, but dorequire a bunch of years grinding it out, and a serendipity that aintexactly been apart of my resume on the boulevard of broken dreams.(Apologies to Green Day – if you are older, they are a rock band withan album titled, American Idiot.)The boulevard is also a place I drop two papers nearby the home ofanother struggling writer/songstress/waitress. She must type out anovel a night by my rough estimation. Hopefully she sells one soon.The boulevard is one ugly place.Every once in a while, you are stopped unexpectedly to do somethingof service other than throw a paper that shouldnt be printed anymore.And that introduces you to an awareness of where you are at in thesocial strata.A woman out at 4AM trying to figure out how to get her Toyota Priusout of ditch/cornfield made for a 45-minute adventure. She was quiteintoxicated, and intoxicating, and if I didnt dress like Goober (AndyGriffith, young pups) while out in winter, I would have been at the clubshe stumbled out of, and into that Toyota, and thinking self: “shes gotit, and knows it, and I cant get with it. How about another beerinstead.”She had probably about 3 hours of total winter driving time on the
  10. 10. hybrid to go along with a penchant for tequila. Definitely, a no go.After calling her soon-to-be ex-husband, as she related, we sat, andwaited while she told me she worked in the car industry as a salesdemonstrator. I took that to mean she didnt drive them – just showedhow the stereo and climate controls work.I was all ready behind schedule by an hour, so another half-hour didnot seem problematic. She was alone in Indiana while hoping to getback across the border to Illinois. I tried not to judge, and she, did notseem to judge my obvious lack of skill, career prospects or ignorancein getting her out through my meager brute force.But as is the case, we made awkward small talk to put each other atease while she sobered up, and I thought: Jesus, I am going to getdone around 8AM. Boy that old fucker on Oakdale Avenue will blow hispacemaker.You get in that awkwardness of knowing the other would never evertalk to you about anything at all, not even the time, or the score of aCubs game, if they had enough sense about them. (She was a Cubsfan.)As one ex-girlfriend alluded (directly to me) about having “socialsuperiority”, I knew from that conversation that I was not of this girlsilk. Granted, she craps similarly to me. Knows American slang, andcant drive, but from her Cover Girl looks, shes goes by “Princess - - -- ,” when in the midst of her similarly royal retinue.Her ex finally shows, and has the straps for the tow, but doesnt knowwhere to put them on this hybrid that I know he despises as he pullshis dual-wheeled Chevy around to the back of her Toyota. So I crawledunder the car to find a solid spot in the snow-packed undercarriage. Itcomes out fairly easy.I got snow in my pants. Anything for me lady.
  11. 11. I served my purpose for the odd threesome at 4:30 AM.As I drive away, I all ready see them having words about somethingelse (more or less important) while they are getting back into theirrespective vehicles. I guess the “social superiors” dont always have itso good.As the winter snows hit hard in the Midwest, and the sleigh bellsjingle without the money tingle at the mall for the Salvation Army, I amreminded again why the job can be pleasure for brief moments. Afterputting out Christmas Cards to my subscribers, you are in the hopesthey offer tips in return for a job (often) well done in the very time ofyear we are in.Recently, I received a bottle of wine, Poverty Road from an Oregon Road,winery. Talk about sending a message. Am I on Poverty Road? Is ourcountry heading that way? Or do (they) feel that way in a 3,500 sq. ft.domicile with a pool and a nicely paved drive-through driveway?I get ornaments, candy, fragrances and money too. No Speedway giftcards this year, so far. Last year, I got 3 reminders that gas was tooexpensive and I was a victim of an interesting topic: oil, inflation,scarcity, alternative energy and macroeconomics. As per usual, I amon the ass-is-being-kicked end of that deal.But the holidays are allowed to be a crazy, message-filled, reflectivetime. Some writers even have messages in their works, my currentone probably is no different. (If I qualify.)But Ill share with you the thoughts of one of my favorite practitioners:Kurt Vonnegut.Vonnegut survived World War II, the fire bombing of Dresden,Germany, and being a prisoner at the crucial end of war when the
  12. 12. Nazis were not particularly concerned with appearances of mercy,compassion, or decency based on the atrocities and heinous actionsof their entire campaign against all humanity.Vonnegut inspires some of this work. (Ok, maybe 75%. But I typed.)In Fates Worse Than Death he relates how his mother was crazy and Death,killed herself, his son, Mark, a Harvard-educated doctor was in aninsane asylum for a time, and Kurt, was on the verge of suicide in hislife, but yet, spoke candidly about those things.So I picked out these quotes: “Why do people try so hard to keep such things a secret? Because news of them would make their children seem less attractive as marriage prospects. You know a lot about my family. On the basis of that information, those of you with children contemplating marriage might be smart to tell them: Whatever you do, dont marry anyone name Vonnegut.” “I am surely a great admirer of AA and GA and Cocaine Freaks Anonymous, and Shoppers Anonymous...and on. And such groups gratify me as a person who studied anthropology, since they give to Americans something essential to health as vitamin C...:an extended family. Human beings have almost always been supported and comforted and disciplined and amused by stable lattices of many relatives and friends...” “I am able to follow the three rules for a good life set down by the late Nelson Algren, a fellow depressive...Never eat at a place called Moms, never play cards with a man named Doc, and most important, never go to bed with anyone who has more troubles than you do.”Matching up with Vonneguts depressive friend and the AA gang is the
  13. 13. show Magnificent Obsessions, which airs on Sunday mornings onChicago Public Radio. Ive listened for years to the messages givenout by fellow alcoholics and their stories of addiction and ultimateobsession to change. It is also the closest thing I will call a religiousservice.By now, I have heard variations of functional drinkers, deadbeatdrunks, gay alcoholics, and every painful mix in between. You canhear the craziness in their path to sobriety. Some found it at the endof their ropes – no friends, no more therapy sessions, no more money –others, sooner, but often losing just as much of their soul.The obsession to be better, treat yourself right, and grow into arespectable person is not glittery. Nobody survives the need to fill thatempty space inside them with a harsh liquid without learning thateach day is just a gift. Not so much from God, but from you, the personleading this seven ring rodeo called a life. While God can be insertedplenty into this Universe, even inside of you, you still have free will.AA teaches many things are found through God. Others in theimprovement realm deem it more influential to find ways to impactyour soul by reading, discovering, and taking action to make adifference. The argument can ensue over which path (or both) cangive you the life you should have.But make that the goal: to find the wisdom in whatever brightens yourday not called a beer, a shot, or a fifth. And somehow take yourselfand others to a higher level of being. It doesnt have to include morestuff...preferably it includes more information on helping humanity andyou.As this years holiday cheer rises to a crescendo, and you find yourselfby a fire, or sipping a Brandy (irony), or reading a story to the kids, orwatching for the twentieth time Rudolph vs. The Abominable
  14. 14. Snowman, or else, just thinking about the credit card bills you justrang up and maxed out, remember:The importance of people, whether they are your favorites or not.The importance of being open to new ideas, and where they can takeyou in pursuit of your dreams (even some ideas you have not yetenvisioned.)And the importance of love, with the hope it is with someone lesscrazy, less trouble-filled, and less neurotic than yourself.But alas, presents dont always come dressed in the packages youenvisioned.And Deliveries dont always come on time.Sometimes, Theyre Special.... Happy Holidays!!!

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