JOBS FROM HELL #1
It had been a few months since I was laid off from my cushy desk job.
The severance was starting to run low and I wanted some way to supplement my unemployment check. To use dot com lingo,
we have a high ‘burn rate’ what with the mortgage, car payments and kids who demand the latest Disney /McDonald’s cross promotion toys.
I remembered that my wife had a newspaper delivery route back when she was in college.
I helped out a few times, it wasn’t that bad. This sounded like a good way to make some extra cash.
It only takes some an hour or so in the morning then you have the rest of the day free. What could be better?
After calling the circulation department of our local paper they put us on a list.
There wasn’t anything available but they’d call us when something opened up. There was supposed to be a big
turnover after Christmas. About two months later we received a call from the paper. There
was an opening for a route, were we still interested. It was delivering papers to the coin operated racks.
Easy I thought. Just shove a bunch a papers in a rack, no folding or messing with rubber bands or plastic bags.
No complaints from cranky geezers when a paper ends up on their roof.
The first warning sign I
should have noticed was there was no interview. They just called the next name from a list.
All you had to do was say ‘yes’ and you’re hired. No interview, no references, no tests, nothing. All we
needed to do was come in fill out some paperwork and go through a dry run and we were on our way.
The job was a horrible nightmare. And I say 'was' because we already quit, lasted a whole three
days. The job had a lot more duties than originally anticipated. We started this adventure on Sunday of President’s day weekend.
The Sunday paper is the biggest, fattest edition of the week. To quote Dr. Evil “It’s re-God-damn-diculous”.
There were 800+ papers stacked waist high on pallets, too many to fit in our monstrous Suburban. Since this was our first day, one of the circulation
managers showed us the route and put half the papers in his van. Otherwise we’d have to make multiple trips.
The poor saps next to us had over 1,000 papers with only one small pick up truck.
We followed him around going from rack to rack. This large unruly paper comes in two sections,
which requires them to be assembled before putting in the rack. We started at 1:30 am finished around 7:00 am. Finally with hands black as soot and feeling
nauseous from the smell of newsprint, we made it home. Ten minutes later both kids are up and ready for quality time. Guess
we could catch up on sleep tomorrow.
Another part of this job is you have to collect the coins from each rack. Which didn’t sound too bad. Except you are an independent contractor so you’re technically selling the papers yourself and the newspaper then bills you for each paper. This requires dealing with huge amounts of quarters, dimes, and nickels, totaling around $2,400 a week. The banks take them only in counted bags of $500.00 or rolled. Some banks won’t take them at all. After collecting Sunday’s take, we spent over an hour on the floor counting a bucket of coins.
So you are supposed to make 15
cents for daily and 25 cents on Sundays foreach paper sold. But what if someone steals papers, takes more than one you say? Well they just stole money right
out of your pocket. If any come up short it comes out of your 'profit'.
They also want you to 'recover' on Sundays. That means after spending 5+ hours in the wee hours
of the Sabbath stocking the racks they expect you to go back mid-day and add more papers, there goes another hour. Which makes a whooping $10 extra. Of course
if nobody swipes too many.
We finished the route on Monday, this time it was only 525 papers. They told us it should take 2 to 2˝ hours. It took over 3. Plus the time need to go back to the station and count all your returns and bundle them up. You need to make sure you do this otherwise every paper you don't return is charged to you.
Tuesday, we were exhausted
after sleeping in 3-hour shifts and arrived at the dock ‘late’ around 3:00 am. It was raining, the papers were getting
soaked, and my hands were frozen and sore. We were so close to quitting. There was far too much crap involved then we ever expected. Then they called us on
our cell phone while we were in route to tell us we didn't bundle our returns from the previous day correctly, can we meet back at the station to learn the proper way.
We arrived at the station with the return papers. A woman whose breath reeked of alcohol far too much for 6:00 am
showed us the ‘right’ way to tie newspapers. That was it. We quit right after the bundling and stacking lesson.