I got my first job working with my grandpa on his newspaper route. It was ten dollars a day if one could last through the whole five hours which to me then was a good sum since I planned on working all summer when I first started. , I really didn’t know much my grandpa at all, only what I had heard about him from my family, and he really didn’t know much about me either. It was an awkward first couple of hours afterwe got past the conversation of us both being fine and that it was chilly thatmorning, but we quickly learned that it takes communication between the driver and the folder to make it work.
Some customers are really picky and particular about what conditiontheir paper is in and how they find it on their lawn or in their box, and beingnew I didn’t know who was who yet. I just quarter folded the papers, stuck a rubber band around it, and threw it down by my feet to be used later because I learned that you can’t wait for each box to fold the paper, and Grandpa would do the things that that the customer liked after few days I caught on what to do and where, but we still didn’t talk much. During the week our hours were from 10am to 3pm or later, it depended on how quick the press printed that morning,but on Saturdays anywhere from 2am – 8am were our hours. Trust me it’s a lot different in the dark! We messed a lot of boxes and he’d back up whichgot me confused on when to do the specialty papers not to mention I wasfalling asleep while I folded because it got so monotonous. The first time I fell asleep at a box, Grandpa just smiled and tapped my shoulder so I could put the paper in the box. He then asked me the first real conversation-starting question we’d ever shared, “Is this what you want to do for the rest of your life?”
Of course I answered no, knowing that this wasn’t what he wanted either. He then asked me what I wanted to do, and being in eighth grade going into ninth, I didn’t have a clue. At that time I was still just an ornery kid having fun with no real plan for the future, and school was the last thing on my mind. He knew all of that since he’d talked to my mom and saw me with my cousins, but he decided he wanted to help me understand the world that would be before my feet in four years. We talked about everything from finances, school, college, marriage, children, and even about the uncle I never met because he died before I was ever thought of. He taught me that life is no bed of roses like I once believed and he opened my eyes to what I had to do.
That next school year, I worked harder on my studies than I ever had in my life and earned straight almost perfect A’s, and I was only able to go on the paper route with him on Saturdays, but I enjoyed our time we shared. One time I was doing my homework until ten on a Friday night and only slept for four hours. Grandpa noticed what I was doing, and I’ll never forget what he said to me, “You can work your whole life away if you’re not careful. Sometimes you get what you work for, but it’s the little things in life that bring us happiness; don’t miss those little things by working too much. Work hard but have fun.” After seeing my report cards, my mom kept asking my grandpa what he did to get me to work so hard. He just looked at me, smiled, and said, “I didn’t do anything; she did it all.” He changed my life and I have everything to thank him for, but he insists that all I have to do to thank him is keep working hard and being happy. He made me the person I am today and I have to smile every time I see a green newspaper box.