Monday, April 10, 2017

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Mailbox...

Photo by Eduardo Arenas

Sometimes it's not the tale, but the telling. Descriptions add flavor and depth and humor to an otherwise boring story, like the time I pulled a sword on a newspaper customer.

Okay, so maybe it doesn't sound all that boring, but compare that single line with the fully-detailed version:

***THE FOLLOWING IS 100 PERCENT ABSOLUTELY TRUE***

See, I used to have a paper route. Not the nice and tidy kind that involves a bicycle and a few city blocks. No, this was one hundred twenty miles a day, six days a week, on gravel roads. When the weather was good, my job was very, very good. When the weather was bad, it sucked.

I inherited the job from a lady who quit without notice. I got a list of names and addresses, plus a lovely BLANK county map. Here, blank means "without any kind of house markings," but it might also mean a swear.

Actually, yeah. It made me swear a lot.

My first day on the job took nine hours. Nine stinking hours of gravel and dust and driving and heat and mailboxes without numbers and invisible road signs. I included a photocopied note with every paper, introducing myself and explaining the circumstances. The second day was much better, only lasting seven hours. By the third day, I felt like I was getting the hang of things. Pull up to a box, double-check the map and list, drop off a paper, and on to the next stop. It was during one of the stops that I ran into Angry Farmer.

A little back story here. Pretty much the same day I got the paper job, I bought a sword. Spanish steel, nicely balanced for my size, not too ornate. Why? Because. I like swords. They help me defend my yarn stash. And possibly my life, as you will soon see. I had the sword in the car with me, in case I ran into a friend. Then I could brag.

Angry Farmer was not my friend, and probably would continue to fail to be my friend for some time. He was angry and large, and at this point in the story, he was barreling across his lawn, straight toward my car. Putting both hands on my windowsill (I felt the car sag), he stuck his head in the window and yelled, "Are you the new paperboy?"

Not wanting to irk Angry Farmer any further, I declined to correct his gender misidentification. I opted to answer in the affirmative for simplicity's sake. It failed to soothe him.

"Git outta the car!"

Excuse me?!

"You heard me, git outta the car!!"

Now, I have NO idea what this dude had in mind. I expect he was at least planning to be intimidating. Unfortunately, he picked the wrong day. And the wrong person. I smiled beatifically.

Okay. Just a moment, please.

In an amazingly athletic move that would probably land me in traction today, I opened the door while reaching into the backseat. I stepped out with sword in hand and went into full en garde mode.

How may I help you?

He stared. He blinked. He stared some more. He finally muttered something about making sure he was getting his paper.

Do you see the paper in the box? Nod.

Did you get your paper yesterday? Nod.

And the day before? Nod.

Did you get my note? Nod.

Do we have a problem? A vigorous negative headshake.

Thank you, sir. Have a lovely day.

I got into the car and drove on to my next stop, shaking and cackling madly for the rest of the trip. It wasn't until I got home that I realized the funniest part of the whole experience: it was a freaking SWORD. See, if I'd been carrying a gun for self-defense, he could have called the cops and I'd have gone to jail. Imagine this conversation, though:

"Police Department."

"My paper carrier pulled a sword on me!"

"Yeah, right, Pops! Lay off the Old Crow!" *click*

I never saw Angry Farmer again, except for one time when he peeked through the blinds. I wonder if he still remembers me? I wonder if he was nicer to the carrier that took over a few years later?

Audrey Lintner does her best to find humor in almost every situation, unless you want to talk about the morning that her husband announced that there was no coffee. When she has time to write, she posts columns as The Procraftinator. Audrey also provides copy and line edits, beta reading, and friendly suggestions at reasonable rates. Contact her via Alto Editing Services.

5 comments :

  1. LOL. You go, girl! Love this piece on the hazards of delivering a journalistic endeavor (aka newspaper) on a rural route. Having subbed a few times on a mail route in the mountains of Colorado, I can relate to the challenges of those maps — and appreciate your quick thinking in silencing your intended intimidator. Great post! :-)

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  2. Hilarious story, Audrey, and very well told.

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  3. LOL several times. A great story!! Thank you for making my day.

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  4. Loved this. Great story, and as Elle said, expertly told.

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  5. Audrey, this is HILARIOUS!! You are so gifted, in so many ways. You made my evening, I can't wait to share it with the kids.

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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