The paper boy, the computer and a dot matrix printer - a Christmas miracle
Many years ago, when I actually looked like this...
...I made my pocket money by doing a newspaper delivery round.
I had earned my stripes and got to the point where I only did the lucrative Sunday run - where the papers where dearer and people bought more of them.
One of the first things I bought was the cassette stereo (with detachable speakers - that was a MUST!) that you can see on the bookcase behind me.
I also bought my first computer, a kit, around then too. But that's another story.
Through some fatherly generosity, some more hard work on the paper round, some finagling of future monies owed and a partnership with my brother we managed to upgrade to an Apple II Euro plus computer.
This Apple II+ in fact...
As any aficionado can see we were lucky enough to have 2 floppy drives.
It also had a cooling fan in the lid (the blob you can see between the drives) and some expansion cards inside that gave it more memory and something else that I can't remember.
For the love of me I can't remember why, but I also acquired, off my own bat, an Apple Writer printer.
I could hardly afford the paper or the ribbons that it used, but I "needed" it.
One Sunday on my paper round on the lead up to Christmas, I had an idea.
I thought it would be nice to use my computer and printer to make some inserts for the newspapers wishing my customers a "Merry Christmas" etc.
I couldn't afford even to print anything big or flash so the printed wishes were many to an A4 paper. I had to cut them into fairly small strips of messages.
They were probably about the size of a business card...maybe smaller.
I honestly thought that most people wouldn't see them, but that was OK. I hoped they would.
I just thought it would be nice.
I didn't even put my name on them. I figured most people didn't know or care about that. I was just their "paper boy", so that's what I wrote on the notes.
Every paper I delivered and sold that Sunday had a slip of thanks in it.
I don't recall feeling proud or anything special. I just recall thinking it was a nice thing to do and that was the end of it...
...or so I thought.
The following Sunday I set off on my paper round as usual.
From vague memories I think it was actually after Christmas by then.
But fairly shortly into my round a strange thing started happening.
As I left papers for pre-ordered deliveries on people's front steps, I started seeing envelopes addressed to "The Paper Boy".
I was surprised to say the least. Naturally I collected them. they were addressed to me.
Not much further on, a customer I never usually saw, came rushing out and handed me a gift.
I was gobsmacked and a little overwhelmed (I am a bit now too).
People sometimes left me tips. This Sunday things were a bit crazy. Some of the tips would be considered generous even by today's standards.
The pattern continued the whole morning and even the following week to a lesser degree.
I had never expected any reaction. I'd half thought no-one would see them or care.
I certainly had never expected to get anything in return for a simple note...a small simple note...inside a newspaper. I just did the best I could in a unique way to say thanks to my customers.
Thinking about it now I realise that that action could quite possibly be the first time any paper boy in the world did such a thing.
Computers were rare. People interested in them were rarer...especially kids. Printers were rare - especially in a home setting on a kids computer.
So I quite probably gave my customers quite a unique, albeit it very small, experience :-)
I'll let you decide what I learnt from that.
Merry Christmas, happy Holidays...whatever it is you are doing this time of year stay safe and have fun.