As I mentioned in a previous installment very few options presented to me on the cusp of graduation from High School were even vaguely inspiring or attractive. So whereas all my peers were headed off to university or college to become Doctors (3% chance), Lawyers (5% chance) or First Semester Dropouts (92% likely) I did nothing, hoping inspiration might hit if I took a year off.
But, alas, don't think for a second that this time would be idle. I think the day after my exams Dad kicked me out of the house to look for work and then began to call every small-town connection he knew to get me the hook up. The idea was to get a summer job, save some money and go to university if and when my future beckoned.
My first job ever was working for Canada Post. Now, before you get too excited, the job with Canada Post was delivering ad mail. Basically I would given a nice little cross-reference of local fliers in bulk, sort them into sets, load them into a mailbag the size of a pup tent and deliver them to a designated neighborhood on the edge of town. I think I was paid a flat $40.00 to deliver everything about four to six hours.
On the very first day I quickly realized that people either really love or really hate fliers. People aren't on the fence over these things. I'd either get one of two groups of people:
"I don't care if you have to get across the moat, through the portcullis, answer the riddle of the Sage, scale the parapet and defeat Cerberus the three-headed hell-hound...I want my f#@%*&$ fliers in my mailbox by 10 am every day or I'm calling my M.P.!"
"If you put another thing in my mailbox from 'Canadian Tire' I'll blow your f#@%!*$ head off!!!"
I remember after I'd completed my first round of deliveries I went back to the post office to drop off my mailbag. I marched into the supervisor's office and announced:
"Well, I'm done!"
And without missing a beat the supervisor responded:
"So, you quit?"
Apparently this was not necessarily as much of a wacky misunderstanding as you may think. Turnover's a wonderful thing, ain't it?
But I kept at it. Except for a few minor piss-off's it wasn't such a terrible gig. Lots of fresh air, exercise and a dwindling faith in the priorities of the human race.
Speaking of demonic guard dogs, one day I tried delivering fliers to a woman who came out her front door just as I was opening her gate. A beagle suddenly darted out of the house and charged at me, baying like the "Hound of the Baskervilles".
Dog owners, please heed me here: it does nothing for someone's piece of mind when you're insisting "Oh, he's fine; don't pay him any heed. He wouldn't hurt a fly" whilst at the same time the self-same hell hound is circling around you, making exploratory darting bites like a delinquent tiger shark in pre-chummed waters.
"Get him away from me!" I shouted back as the dog backed off momentarily to howl an ode to bloodlust. "You got three seconds to call him off, lady!"
"Really, he's just playing!"
"Just come on in through the gate, he won't..."
"TWO" I shouted, cocking my mailbag over my shoulder and nearly giving my lower intestine an express elevator drop into my nutsack.
"It's fine, he'll just stay outside there..."
I swung the mailbag full-pelt and connected solidly with it's brain pan as "Zoltan, Hound of Dracula" nipped out at me again The beast was in mid-bark at the time and the "ROOOWLF!!!" instantly turned to a vaguely amusing "ACK!!!" noise. The swing was pretty strong and I'm convinced to this day that if I'd struck the feral creature in anything but it's head I likely would have maimed it.
"Oh dear!" exclaimed the owner, cupping her hands to her mouth in surprise.
I managed to drive the fiend back far enough for me open the gate and get inside her yard, locking "Cujo" outside. It began pacing back and forth in front of the fence like a bear driven nuts by a zoo's electrical fence. The blow to the head hadn't fazed it in the least, much like a wrestler's immunity to chair shots to the cranium.
"Sorry, lady" I puffed, lugging my canvas flail up the steps to her front porch.
"Oh, that's okay," she dismissed. "It's my husband's dog and frankly I kinda hate the stupid thing. Ooooo, is that a 'Zellers' flier?"
The ad mail delivery biz was fine until the weather started to get cold. I seem to recall trying to deliver fliers on top of a hilly, treeless subdivision in Kippens during a gale-force winter storm and nearly getting decapitated by a flying plastic sled. Hmmm, was that also the time my Dad got bit by a dog because he took pity on me that day and tried to help me? I can't remember. Oh, well, whatever...
This all culminated with a pretty miserable event. I was fast asleep one cold, dark, rainy fall morning when Dad burst into my room and spent the next ten minutes trying to rouse his teenage Lazarus from the dead. It started with a few "shaken baby syndrome" jolts, proceeded to screaming into an ear trumpet and then attempted physical removal from the nest, which I resisted like Eva Longoria in a shoe store.
"What?! What is it?!?" I spluttered as I was dragged kicking and screaming into consciousness.
"Your supervisor from Canada Post is on the phone. He wants to know if you can deliver the regular mail for a carrier that called in sick."
"Deliver...what? What time is it?"
"Five-thirty," Dad answered as if I'd overslept.
Let me tell you, Gentle Reader, there is never a time in your life, young or old, when that answer is anything less than horrifying. There are certain times on our twenty-four hour clock that I firmly believe it's literally a crime against the laws of the universe to be awake. The only time when it might make sense to be awake this early is if you live six hours away from a ferry which you have to catch at 9 am and only then if you can sucker someone else into driving and all you have to do is stumble from your bed to the back seat of the car.
"Auuuughhh!!! Five-thirty? Is he nuts? Tell him to go pound sand," I muttered and tried to roll over.
"Like hell," Dad growled, renewing his efforts to pull me from my heated water bed. My fingernails scratched the edge of the frame as I was cast out onto the cold floor like a homeopathic birth gone horribly awry.
"What the eff?!!? I shouted.
"I'm going back to the phone and tell him you'll call him back right away. They're going to give you $13.00 an hour to do this today, so you're damned well going."
I guess he was still pissed about that dog bite.
Join me next time Gentle Reader, when I explain why Cliff Clavin was such a reasonable source of ridicule after all and why suicide rates amongst postal carrier is so high in next week's episode of "You Can't Get There From Here" entitled:
DAVE DELIVERS YOUR MAIL. ONCE. AND NEVER AGAIN.