In 8th grade I had a paper route. It was hell. Unlike city paper boys who went from door to door, house to house, each 20 feet apart and delivered 80 papers in the space of 20 minutes, living in a farming community I had to deliver papers to houses miles apart. Houses with blocks-long driveways and vicious, hostile farm dogs (I still hate large dogs because of that). It took hours every single day of the week and I had only 36 papers on Sunday and 27 during the week. Hell.
But I did it because I am the kind of person who gets the job done. It was my job and I did my duty. But I was not motivated by money. Because the thing I didn’t like was collecting the money. I was always short of money. The system required that I pay the Journal every week for the papers I delivered and I was supposed to collect on Fridays. But I hated collecting. Which was stupid of me since my customers knew I was supposed to collect and usually they gave me tips but asking Mrs Buehlen for the $1.50 or what ever it was seemed rude and grasping.
Anyway, because I always delivered the paper, everyone was very impressed and complimentary about my performance (apparently previous paper boys were not as dutiful which at the time was a mystery to me) and at Christmas I got a lot of gifts and tip money. The tip money was mostly scattered on the floor of my bedroom but some of the gifts, specifically a box of selected chocolates from Europe from Mrs Olsen was hidden from, specifically, my sisters.
Snickers and Hershey’s kisses were about all there was for me chocolate-wise (not that I’m complaining about them) in that day and age. And getting them was a rare occurrence and sharing was alway an issue in a household with 5 children. I had never contemplated anything like this in my life. A box of exotic chocolate meant only for me. The foreign languages, the glamorous packaging, white chocolate fer chrissake. I had no idea anything like white chocolate existed. [A few years later in the seminary I ate 87 pounds of white chocolate-covered pretzels and have never felt the same about the stuff again].
In the package was a Belgian chocolate bar the taste of which came slamming home to me this week when in a fit of need I opened a bar of Belgian chocolate my friend Carol brought me (from Belgium) earlier this year. It has been nearly 50 years since I tasted it but I recalled the flavor vividly. The flavor, and the satisfaction of not having to share.