Gray Sunday Afternoon

Susie has departed for Rock ‘N Roll Girls’ Camp in the Hocking Hills, so it’ll be just Steph and me for the next 10 days.  Our friend Anne took Susie down to the camp this afternoon.  Steph rode along, and I stayed behind in Columbus–although I do plan to ride along for Susie’s return trip.  Susie’s been very excited, especially during the clothes-buying and packing.

After church, and after Anne, Steph, and Susie had departed, I caught the southbound bus and headed toward the Ohio State campus.  I left in too much of a hurry.  I did bring along my laptop, but I forgot my backpack, which means no library book, no diary, and no typewritten manuscript which I’ve been slowly (very slowly) typing up in Word.  Once I got to Kafe Kerouac (which is where I am now), I thought that maybe forgetting all the aforementioned things was a subtle hint that maybe I should write in the blog.

I take my first cost-saving day tomorrow.  Stated otherwise, I am playing hooky tomorrow morning with the full blessings of Ted Strickland and the Department of Administrative Services.  I am going to sleep in (until about 8 a.m.–I shudder when I think that 8 a.m. is "sleeping late"), and then my friend Jacques Angelino and I are headed southeasterly into the wilds of Athens County, bringing food and school supplies (and our labor) to the Feed My Sheep food pantry in Mineral.  (I wrote about the food pantry in an entry earlier this year.)  I had planned to go down on Memorial Day weekend, but Ray Ogburn, the pastor and director of Feed My Sheep (and Faith Believers’ Ministry) had a family emergency, so the pantry wasn’t open that day.  Jacques is coming to pick me up at 10 a.m.

As I was logging onto LiveJournal, Steph phoned me, en route back from Susie’s camp.  She and some of her friends are going out for mojitos at a Mexican restaurant near Worthington, so I’m not in a hurry to depart from this place.

Yesterday was my third week delivering The Bag.  As always, the walking part is enjoyable, although I will probably retract that statement the first time it snows.  The worst part is stuffing all the bags and getting all the flyers organized.  This is never fun in the first place, but this week it was even more burdensome because of a very long cardboard ad for a pizza restaurant.  The flyer is made of cardboard and is purposely longer than the bag, so that the pizza flyer projects from The Bag once I leave it on the doorstep.  Adding these pizza flyers made the stuffing take twice as long as normal.  I am sure that when an advertiser encloses samples–such as soap or deodorant or shampoo–in some future Bags, that will go much easier.

I can’t complain about the delivery itself.  There haven’t been any hostile people on the route, I haven’t encountered any vicious dogs, and I am learning the odd layout of the streets west of Indianola and east of the train tracks.  The deadline for delivery is Sunday at 12 noon, but, since I like going to church, I finish usually in the middle of Saturday afternoon.

What I remind myself regarding safety is what I heard at orientation when I was a clerk at the main post office in Cincinnati.  The supervisors told the carriers that if they felt unsafe at an address, they did not have to deliver it.  (Someone asked, "What’s an unsafe situation?"  His reply wasn’t all that helpful: "If you round the corner and there’s a big mob waving baseball bats and guns and shouting, ‘Kill the mailman!’, you don’t have to deliver there.")

On Thursday night, I finally filled the prescription that my doctor gave me for this dry cough that has hung on for at least six weeks.  Four pills a day, and so far it doesn’t seem to be doing a damn bit of good.  I just have to remind myself not to take too deep a breath.  (She listened to my chest and lungs–nothing there.  No congestion, no rales, nada.)  If the cough is always dry, we can pretty much rule out allergy.

Nothing Stays This Courier From the Swift Completion…

"You must really love us to sink this low."
I think I’m going to be making up the 3.3 hours that is being subtracted from every paycheck over the life of the current contract on for State workers.  Ever since moving to Clintonville, The Bag appears on our porch, doorknob, mailbox, or yard during the weekend.  One afternoon, I was able to see the carrier in person, and I asked him how one got a job delivering The Bag.

The Bag is just that–a bag.  It contains flyers for supermarkets and businesses, coupons, etc.  I called the number on The Bag, and the woman who answered the phone said there weren’t any routes available at present, but she would keep my number handy just in case one came available.  (Don’t call us, we’ll call you, I was thinking.)

About two weeks later, there was a message on my cell phone.  The same woman, The Bag’s route coordinator, told me that yes, there was a route available, and did I want it?

I knew the pay wouldn’t be as good as at other part-time job–such as at The Laundro or bagging groceries at Giant Eagle.  Delivering The Bag, I would have a free hand and would be able to work without someone standing over me non-stop.  That made it worth it.  Also, I have been wanting to lose weight (I’m not obese or anything, but I am a little more convex than I would like to be), so the extra walking would be a blessing.

So, starting on the Independence Day weekend, I became a delivery person for The Bag.  Delivering it is actually the easy part.  Lots of walking, going up and down porches and steps, make sure everything is delivered by Sunday at noon, page the route coordinator to let her know when I’m done.

It’s the pre-delivery part that’s a nightmare.  On Thursday afternoon, I come home from work there sits on my back porch step six or seven bundles of ads.  All the Kroger ads are bundled together, all the Meijer ads bundled together, all the Marc’s, etc.  There’s also a supply of bags, a manifest, and a list of the addresses where I deliver.

Steph stepped up to the plate and offered to always help bundle all the ads together, with Susie helping to tear off the bags and hand them to her.  That was indeed a blessing, because doing it solo would have taken at least six hours.  To make it more fun, there is one type of bundle for Columbus Dispatch subscribers, and one for non-subscribers.  So, once Steph’s last Thursday piano lesson is finished, we go to work.  Once you get a rhythm going, the work goes faster than I thought it would (Steph put a quick stop to my "Kroger two-three-four, Meijer two-three-four").  It still takes more than two hours, and the living room is full of bundles.

Then comes preparing them for delivery.  On my list, non-Dispatch subscriber addresses are represented in blue, so Steph loaded them into a blue canvas shopping bag, and the non-subscribers in some other color bag.  These bags I load into the two-wheel grocery cart (I dread what I’ll do this winter when there’s snow on the ground)–although I can’t carry the entire load in one trip.

On paper, my route doesn’t look that strenuous.  If I was just walking those streets, it’d take me no time at all.  But I have to go up to the porch or the front door and hang The Bag on the doorknob, or on the hooks under the mailbox where the carrier leaves packages–the only absolute no-no is leaving them between the storm door and the front door.  (There are some people who have asked not to receive The Bag–their addresses are in red on my list.)

The work is pleasant, once I actually hit the bricks and start delivering.  There is a cul-de-sac that has had me climbing the walls, a horseshoe-shaped street divided into east and west.  That’s hard enough, but the people living at the place where east and west split have an amazing green thumb.  They have many vines and other plants overrunning their yard and fence, and it doesn’t stop there.  The vine has begun climbing up the telephone pole next to their house, and the foliage is so thick that it completely covers the street signs.  That’s not helpful when I have a hard time getting my bearings and have trouble keeping east and west straight.  I got on the City of Columbus’ Website this afternoon when I got home from church and logged an official complaint.  I respect anyone who is talented enough to maintain a garden, since I definitely am not–I could probably kill kudzu.  Nonetheless, I’m appalled that no one has spoken to them about how their runaway plants are blocking the street signs.  That entire neighborhood is already a nightmare for pizza delivery people and letter carriers, and their blocking the signs only makes it worse.

This weekend’s delivery was done in installments.  I did some of it Friday night, and the instant I stepped out the door I heard thunder.  I delivered everything on one street (three blocks, both sides) before the rain started to fall.  Yesterday, I set the alarm for 5:30 (which is my wake-up time for my "real" job serving the good people of the State of Ohio), and was out the door a little after 6.  I aborted mission around 9, because the rain was starting again.  Additionally, Susie was having a friend over and Steph was leaving to knit with friends.  So, I watched "Your Local Forecast on the 8s" on The Weather Channel on and off all day to see when the deluge would be over.  It was over late in the afternoon, so I finished in the early evening.

During my time at the post office in Cincinnati, I was never a letter carrier, because of my lack of a driver’s license.  So maybe delivering The Bag is my way of doing the same task.