Read Paper Route From the Beginning
Truck drivers don't wear seatbelts and neither did my father. It was the 1980's version of Man Law. Sissies wore seatlets. Bad drivers wore seatbelts. Women wore seatbelts. James E. Gonzalez, professional paper route driver, DID NOT wear a seatbelt.
A guy who wore a seatbelt was admitting something.
The paper route my father drove on a daily basis was not a city route. Nope. That was for sissies, too. Driving reidential streets and tossing a newspaper into a driveway wasn't working. No way. My father drove 200 miles of dirt roads in rural Lakeville, Minnesota, the very last roads to be plowed when snow hit. The distance between houses was measured in miles. You knew the next house was coming up because you could see the solitary farm light off in the distance. Otherwise, it was a dulled set of dusty headlights giving a Promethean protest to the dominating darkness.
A call came to the house early one morning, maybe six o'clock. It was dad. There was never a good reason to call from the paper route. There was never even a way to call from the paper route. The only cell phones in those days were the kind that could fit in a duffle bag and carried a price tag that only CEO's and drug dealers coud afford. Mom let us sleep as my older brother was old enough to stay at home with us without Child Protective Services getting their undies in a bundle. Mom left the house to go and pick up dad.
By the time they came home, the three of us were awake and more than a little curious. Why did mom have to go and pick up dad? Yes, and where was the truck?
Dad went on to tell how it was at Marek's Salvage yard and would die there. He had double rolled the truck. He skidded on a patch of black ice on one of the county roads and rolled off into the ditch, rolling the Scout twice.
"Funny thing is," he said in one of the most humble (and almost dazed) tones I have ever head, "I have never worn a seatbelt on the route. For some reason, I put it on today. I even thought it was weird when I put it on. I just thought I might need it today."
Go to Paper Route 4