It's weird because I don't remember my first summer job fondly. In fact, I don't remember my first summer job at all. Maybe that is because, come to think of it, I never had a summer job.
My first job was as a paperboy. Paperboys knew no season. They rode their wobbly bikes in the awakening sunshine of a summer morning and in the predawn, teeth-chattering gloom of winter.
I say they "knew" no season because paperboys are a thing of the past. Like rabbit ears on TV sets and sit-down family dinners, they are relics of a simpler time when subscribers often found their papers in the bushes. These days, the delivery of the paper is vastly more efficient. Guys in cars hurl the paper in places on the property so remote that you have to send out a search party to find it. It makes an old paperboy envious.
In the popular imagination, paperboys were Leave It to Beaver types. Friendly. Hardworking. Freckle-faced. They pedaled on their bicycles through the neighborhood, ring-a-linging an amiable "Hi, Mr. Livingston. How's Mrs. Livingston?"
In reality, paperboys were an embittered lot. We griped about the long hours, the low pay, the customers. "Ya know old Mr. Livingston? Jerk, that guy. Never tips. And he's always like, 'I want that paper on my porch - hear me?'?"
On Thursdays, I'd collect. That's what they called it: collect. Like something out of The Sopranos. Except it was more like something out of Death of a Paperboy. I trudged from one house to the next, ringing doorbells, hoping somebody answered so I didn't have to come back, then hoping for a tip. Subscriptions were 35 cents a week. As I recall, I made a nickel on each subscription I delivered. You know how they always say things were cheaper in the old days? How cars were, like, seven cents, and houses a buck and a quarter? Well, even by those standards, and even for a kid, a nickel a house was a wage worthy of an Amnesty International investigation.