I had a paper route when I was 13. There was a bowling alley with arcade games towards the end of the route who subscribed to the paper who provided a much-appreciated respite from the drudgery that is newspaper delivery. They always paid me in quarters which was extremely convenient to plop into their video game machines. If you were to do the math, I have a feeling they made far more money from me than they ever paid for the newspaper. I feel for the subscribers who lived after the bowling alley, because I would regularly play video games before continuing the route, but they probably didn’t realize they got their paper much later than the other subscribers.
However, this story doesn’t have anything to do with the bowling alley. Nor does it relate to the time my bike was stolen by two older kids when I was playing video games at the bowling alley. When I came out they were walking my mode of transportation down the street, so I ran after them and asked what they were doing with my bike. They claimed that since the chain had fallen off the gears (my chain fell off on a regular basis) they thought it was a piece of junk (which was arguably a valid point). I politely informed them that it was my piece of junk, retrieved the bike from them and finished the rest of my paper route.
But that’s not the story either.
There was an inclined dead-end road on the route with a single subscriber at the very end. The incline meant on the trip back down I didn’t have to pedal and would build up a great deal of speed. One day, as I was cruising down the road without pedaling, I noticed something in one of the yards on the left. I don’t recall what it was, but I remember staring at it for longer than I should have, in retrospect. You’re probably aware that when you turn to look at something on your left while driving, you tend to turn right, and turn right I did.
A parked car sat on the right side of the road, and ended up being far closer than I anticipated. As I turned to look ahead and enjoy the wind in my face, I was met with something much less pleasant: the hindquarters of a car.
I don’t recall the details of the impact, but suffice it to say my bike slammed into the back of the car, I fell off and my knee was in intense pain. I slowly got up from the ground, picked up my newspaper bag and got back onto the bike, but my knee hurt so much I couldn’t ride. I swallowed hard and began slowly walking my bike down the road.
All of this happened in front of a house, presumably where the owner of the car was located, and as I walked away I saw someone in a window looking out at me. They didn’t do anything but stare, so I kept walking. As I reached the end of the street, the pain in my knee had subsided enough to allow me to get back on my bike and continue the paper route.
I think I played even more video games than normal that day to make up for the unpleasant incident with the parked car.
Dan — loved the nostalgic stories. I remember well the bowling alley and its inviting arcade games; I remember that you rode your bike into the back of that car that one time, but I don’t think I ever before knew why. Did the Christmas season bring up this reminiscing, or perhaps you’d had it written for some time before posting it now? …
It’s not related to Christmas at all, I’ve just had it in my drafts folder for so long I decided it was time to finish it off.