I think I have made it clear that I am not a morning person, not terribly fond of the entire human race until I’ve had coffee, and… Like the Reese’s commercials… “Not sorry.”I happily spend the first hour of my day in silence, except to talk shit to the cats on my way to the front porch, where I can sit quietly and follow the Hop rule (from ‘Stranger Things’, if you don’t know what I mean by that) which says “mornings are for coffee and quiet contemplation.”

It was a day like any other in a typical great Northeast morning in December; cold, overcast, and gently breezy mornings always seem to put a mournful edge on the soulful sounds from the wind chimes, and this always sets just the right mood for mapping out in your mind how you see the day ahead unfolding.

I am especially fond of Sunday mornings, between the hours of 6:00 and 8:00 a.m., because most people are still in bed or, at the very least, not yet blowing through the neighborhood side streets, car stereos cranked up loud enough to spread spider cracks across the glass, like the fucking morons that think they’re on the Autobahn. Then, just about the time the caffeine began to wash over my addled brain, a car slowly and quietly rolled up and stopped directly across the street from my nosy neighbor perch on the porch.

Dread and loathing already starting to rise in my head, assuming I had been scoped out as a good target to ask for directions, I took a long draw out of the thermos and steadied myself for what would surely be yet another early morning conversation that I wanted no part of but would be forced into engaging all the same.

What got out of that car and headed directly towards me from the other side of the street was a guy roughly my age who was carrying the Sunday paper, rolled up, and slipped into a cheap plastic bag from the local newspaper company. Not only immediately relieved, I felt a smile spread on my face as I chuckled to myself at the idea of a paper boy nowadays being a senior citizen. As he slowly approached, hobbling with the same old guy knees that I have, I had a rush of flashbacks about my years as a paper boy, newspaper-filled Satchel slung over my shoulder, sporting my banana seat Schwinn with the high handlebars, squirreling up and down sidewalks as I flung the papers somewhat near people’s front porches before rolling on to the next house. I thought to myself, “Holeee shit has the world changed since the good old days of my youth.”

We exchanged the standard “good morning” greetings, I added “Happy New Year” since it was New Year’s Eve, and – me being me – I asked him, sarcastically, if maybe he wasn’t a little old to be a paper boy. We both chuckled, and he told me that he was already old enough for Social Security but did the paper route just to get out of the house and make a little pocket money. He said that he had spent much of his career driving several thousand miles a week… Picking up or delivering things in the medical world… And that delivering papers was a pretty good way to be able to keep driving without having to do as much of it as he used to.

It was a natural transition, each of us having done quite a bit of driving in our respective lives, to go off into a series of one-upmanships about some of the crazy shit we had each seen across the highways and byways over the course of our lives, and how happy he was (with which I quickly agreed) to leave all that chaos behind and let the ‘youngsters take over the heavy lifting of all that congestion, traffic jams, and road rage nonsense. He went on to add that the best part of being an old guy Paperboy was that, just about the time he was going to get home and put his feet up for the day, the rest of the world would be just barely getting started fighting for their lives out there on the road.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t happy to see him go, taking another few sips of my coffee and thinking about our conversation, but in a lot of ways – especially because I can’t drive anymore and would not be able to read the addresses I was supposed to deliver papers to – I envy this guy. If I’m being honest, though, my envy isn’t so much about what he can do that I cannot as it is that he is still able to take at face value the declining degree of goodness in people, whereas I’m more often see the increasing badness in them. I guess there’s a New Year’s resolution in there somewhere.

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