9-روزنامه فروشکتاب: زندگی در چند بخش / فصل 9
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متن انگلیسی فصل
After a year of collecting eggs and killing chickens, my brother and I were whooshed out of the country and reunited with our mother and sister at 7308 Owensmouth Avenue in Canoga Park, a house in need of either a retrofit or a wrecking ball. On the plus side, it was big. To offset the cost of leasing the whole place, my mother rented two small cottages in the backyard and two rooms inside the house to strangers. The renters were middle-aged single men on the low ebb of their luck. They all used one toilet in the back of the house, but had to find other means to shower. We never knew and never asked.
However, one man insisted as part of his rental agreement to be allowed to take a bath once a day in the only bathroom in our house. Every day at 3:00 p.m. we were required to unlock the access door to the bathroom from the back hallway to allow “Mr. Clean” to come in and bathe, shave, and do whatever he chose to do in there for an hour. This meant we had to make sure we didn’t need to pee during that hour. If we did, we’d have to walk two doors down to the library to use their facilities.
The boarders plus my mother’s full-time employment at the photo counter of JC Penney covered most but not all of the monthly nut. My brother worked at our next-door neighbor’s western apparel store. I took on a number of odd jobs. We both chipped in.
In junior high, I had a job—a con job, really—distributing a throwaway rag, the Canoga Park Chronicle. First, I was supposed to stick people with the paper. Then I was instructed to knock on their doors to collect the fee. Shock of all shocks, not many people cared to pay $3.10 a month for a paper they neither ordered nor wanted. The few nice folks who did pony up only felt sorry for me.
I canvassed every house in the square mile of my territory. I lost track of how many times I heard: “Stop delivering that damn thing. It pisses me off every time I have to pick it up off my driveway and throw it in the garbage.”
“Okay,” I’d say, more desperation in my voice than brightness, “let’s just have you pay the last month as a cancellation fee.”
“I never ordered it, jackass!”
Trying so hard to give people something they clearly didn’t want was eroding my confidence and spirit. Every day I wanted to quit. And the amount of time it took to complete my deliveries was cutting into my master plan to achieve a C average at Columbus Junior High.
I decided that I’d only deliver the paper to the nice people who sympathized with my plight. The rest of the papers I jettisoned into a Dumpster near my house. I’d stroll casually up to the receptacle, look around to make sure there were no witnesses, open the lid, and quickly throw all my papers inside. Then I’d walk away nonchalantly.
No one was any the wiser . . . until they were. Apparently, businesses that paid for the Dumpster didn’t appreciate my disposal habits. They called the newspaper, and I suppose it wasn’t too hard for my bosses to find the culprit in the case of the missing papers. My boss called my house and excoriated me. I remember he used the word stealing. Several times. And then he fired me.
I stood in the kitchen with the receiver in my hand for a while after he hung up. I was racked with shame, and more than that—surprise. I knew my actions were underhanded, but I don’t think I fully understood that they constituted thievery.
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