My father always came up with ideas to supplement his income. He did this because we never had enough money. The problem with his schemes was that he never had time to follow these ideas through. He spent all his spare time at church or performing duties for church. He used more gas and paid more for automobile wear and tear for church than for anything else. He also paid ten percent of everything he made, everything my mother made, and even everything I made to the church. That was the gross, before taxes. As a result, he was always short on money and was always thinking about how to make ends meet.
There was Amway, of course. We had several starter kits in the food storage room. We moved them from house to house, but really the only thing Amway ever did for us was provide a way to buy overpriced soap and laundry detergent.
Several times he took part-time jobs repairing televisions and other electronics. His job in the military trained him for such work. Unfortunately that same job ordered him to go anywhere at a moment's notice and more often than not, his part-time employers needed someone who wasn't going to be scheduled to work yet find out that he was going to be in Australia an hour before he was supposed to show up. Combine that with his unwillingness to ever work on Sundays, Mondays, and any Saturday that the LDS General Authorities wanted to drone, brought to us by the large screen at the nearest Stake Meeting House and you get sporadic part-time work but more likely a 'we no longer need your services' note.
His jobs were family jobs. I didn't mention that before. When he was repairing televisions, he'd take me along to sit and be bored in some shop. The owner also didn't know why I was there, but I was nonetheless. It kept me out of trouble. It kept me out of anything. So, while I was there, I'd file stuff, or mark prices, or clean up and haul out trash. Whatever needed to be done. For nothing. Amway, as well – I had to learn the sales pitch and tag along whenever he tried to sucker some soon-to-be ex-friend schmuck into buying a starter kit and pitching to all his/her soon to be ex-friends. He'd talk to us about how much money we'd earn selling soap.
But this story is really about the pamphlets. A General at one of the Air Force Bases decided to publish a monthly newsletter and have it delivered to every door in base housing, all 1,544 of them. My father bid for the delivery job and got it for one hundred dollars. Guess who delivered all those newsletters each first day of the month for a year?
Because a hundred bucks is too much to give to a kid, and because he really needed them money, he gave me twenty five dollars to deliver those double sheets of paper to each door. I'd start at five AM and I wouldn't be done until dark, usually nine or ten o'clock. I don't remember him ever helping once. I also remember not wanting to do it, and being told it was a great opportunity, that it was required, that it was a blessing, and finally that if I didn't there'd be a beating in it for me. Did I ever mention that Free Agency is a basic tenant of the Mormon faith? That may be true, but it wasn't a basic tenant of our household.
I had a small blue skateboard. It wasn't fancy laminate, shaped wood, heavy duty trucks and grinding surface like today's skateboards. This was plastic, the wheels were small, tiny really, designed to stop suddenly at any sidewalk deformity, propelling the unfortunate rider onto his face, spraying a bagful of pamphlets across somebody's manicured lawn.
I skateboarded every sidewalk on base, up to every door, rolled each one up, and put it into every door handle.
Then I got attacked by Cujo.
I'll tell that part of the story next Thursday.