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?
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.