collection days it seems as archaic as kids carrying newspapers now but they used to give us a thick ring full of cardboard paper cut into perforated tabs they acted as receipts when people paid you for their papers once a week in summer or after school i had to walk my paper route with the ring of cardboard tabs knocking on people’s doors to get the post-gazette’s money in winter i saw the dark on both ends of the day i was the great interrupter of dinners sexy time after long days at work of infants falling asleep after hours of struggle the great ruiner of children’s birthdays and underage parties i stood at closed doors listening to hushed voices hoping that i’d just go away while the same dogs that barked at me in the morning got a second chance to go at me in the evening the people who condescended to open their doors looked at me as if they didn’t understand like their newspaper just arrived by some voodoo or magic and not by some fat kid trudging along in the rain or snow or the humid damp of summer heat i delivered to rich people with big houses but no one ever had the money to pay me next week, they’d say and i’d walk away from their homes my labor given away free for another week left to explain to my angry dispatcher why i didn’t have his cash some saturday promising him i’d have his money come next monday like i was some errant tenant or a goddamned junky begging to a dealer a feeble man with empty pockets and a huge-ass gambling debt who’d let his life fall off the rails yet again.
About the Author: John Grochalski is the author of the poetry collections, The Noose Doesn’t Get Any Looser After You Punch Out (Six Gallery Press 2008), Glass City (Low Ghost Press, 2010), In the Year of Everything Dying (Camel Saloon, 2012), Starting with the Last Name Grochalski (Coleridge Street Books, 2014), The Philosopher’s Ship (Alien Buddha Press, 2018), and Eating a Cheeseburger During End Times (Kung Fu Treachery, 2021). He is also the author of the novels, The Librarian (Six Gallery Press 2013), Wine Clerk (Six Gallery Press 2016), and P-Town: Forever (Alien Buddha Press, 2021). Grochalski currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. You can read his baseball card ramblings at his Junk Wax Jay blog https://junkwaxjay.blogspot.com/
Image Credit: Harris& Ewing “Newspapers Coming Off Press” (1936) Public domain photograph courtesy of the Library of Congress
One thought on “John Grochalski: “collection days””
Oh, gosh, you nail it…not a pleasant memory, but one I shared. I got to see the humor in it years later. But, like you, my pay for that week was based on my collection, and I’d have to go over it with the dispatcher. I’m proud I did it now…giving folks something to read and talk about.