Past is Present
With the extreme cold, doing errands in the city on foot requires more than just a To Do list; it requires that list to be numbered in the right order so it saves you from getting frostbite. This made a friend of mine ask, “When did you get to be so well-organized?” I thought it over for all of one second.
I was eleven. That’s when I got a paper route. Taking it over from an older boy, he warned me I had big shoes to fill, “Cause you know, you’re a girl.” But I had a bike, a metal rack on the back, and determination.
After school and weekend mornings, I plunked a stack of Cape Cod Times newspapers into my bike rack and pedaled off, following the route the boy had shown me. After a few weeks I wondered if there was a more efficient course, since I wanted to watch General Hospital at my friend Leslie’s house.
So I drew a map of the route and numbered the homes in the order I thought quickest. By delivering to all the homes on the right side of the street first and then those on the left on the way back (instead of running back and forth across the street as the “genius” before me had done) shaved off minutes.
Mind you, this was in the days before newspapers were tossed onto driveways. I actually had to place the newspaper inside the screen door. So I took note of any houses that had tricky doors, steps, ferocious dogs, etc. to calculate extra time. And when all 30 homes had their newspapers, I’d pedal off like a bat out of hell to Leslie’s in hopes of getting there before Luke and Laura shared their first kiss.
A year later I handed the paper route over to a friend, along with my bike rack and, by this time, the crumpled map. I was in Middle School and had moved on to more important undertakings like basketball and softball. I was also done with Luke and Laura. Looking back, I appreciate the efficiency I mastered, a skill I still use daily, and not just with errands. But more than that, I appreciate the rapid pedaling, as those leg muscles have held up just as long as the lessons.