Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Give Us A Break

Not only do I have the privilege of writing for this esteemed newspaper, but I also have the added benefit of being allowed to deliver it. One thousand one hundred and fifty two of them, to be precise, brought with decent haste, every month, to the good citizens of Littlepace, Hazelbury and Hunters Run.
It is an undertaking that I enjoy immensely. Not only does it pay for my trips to Tolka Park, but it gives me some much needed exercise that is scandalously lacking in my sedentary lifestyle. And I am also ensuring that my words of wisdom are delivered to over two thousand people, all of whom are naturally gagging to read my definitive opinion on whatever subject I have plucked out of the air that month.
Of course, I am but a small cog in the large distribution team that ensures the Community Voice is delivered to over 28,000 homes in the Dublin 15 area. And not the American delivery system, where papers are hurled from a bike in the vague direction of the porch. Try that here and the entire area would soon be smothered in a blanket of sodden newsprint.
Enjoyable as my monthly odyssey is, however, there are several ways that it could be turned into sheer distribution nirvana. I have taken the liberty of jotting down a few suggestions of ways that ordinary citizens can improve the lot of the door to door delivery people.
Walls. Littlepace is full of them. High ones, low ones, in-between ones. None of the other estates in the area have them at all, save for a few individual householders who have had them built at their own expense. An independent survey in Finland, found that in 100% of cases, it takes longer to deliver to houses with a dividing wall, than to houses without. To this surprising statistic, I can lend my wholehearted backing, based on my wealth of personal experience.
Of course, if I had the stature of an American basketball player, these walls would not present a problem. But I am what has kindly been described as “squat,” not the most ideal physique in the world for wall-hurdling. I am obliged to grab my leg by the calf, and forcibly swing it up and over the wall, hoping that there is no plant pot or cat litter concealed on the other side.
Now I understand fully how attached Littlepace residents are to their walls. They love them. They have wall parties and invite people from less fortunate estates. So I am not suggesting that they knock down their wall. Well, not all of it, anyway. Just the bit closest to the house, so we can walk right along in front of people's windows without straining our groins.
I used to deliver to Ongar too, but was forced to give it up out of fear that I might experience the joys of a cardiac arrest. You would not believe the number of steps in that place! You go up and down so often, your ears are constantly popping. The concept of having a post-box at the bottom of steps obviously hadn’t occurred to the developers when the apartments were being built, for there’s no escaping trudging up all these flights of stairs.
Again, the cost of converting one’s steps to an escalator might prove to be prohibitive to many householders, but most Sunday newspapers carry ads for these stairlifts for old people who can’t be bothered climbing up and down, and honestly, they’re not that expensive, and you can be sure your friendly Community Voice distributor would be very appreciative, not to mention your postman and pizza menu deliverers.
One of the brightest ideas I’ve come across is the letterbox three inches from the ground. This occurs in a dozen or so houses in the area, and I’m still trying to figure out the logic behind it. I only have to deliver there once a month, but I’m sure the regular postman loves it. Keeps your back muscles nice and supple, although the rush of blood to your head negates this somewhat.
Again, the solution is simple. Take your front door off its hinges, and turn it upside down. Okay, a bit of a stretch, but better to stretch upwards than downwards, at my age. And dead handy for any American basketball players seeking to get into the Dublin 15 distribution business.
I like dogs. Sautéed in a white wine sauce, the way they serve them in Vietnam. And I have no particular problem with those lovable canine friends of ours that grab the paper from the other side of the door and rip it into a mass of confetti. That’s their prerogative. I fully understand that my writing isn’t to everybody’s taste, and I respect their opinion.
No, it’s the lovable little rogues who lurk outside the front door, and haven’t been trained to recognise the difference between a burglar and a mild-mannered delivery person, that cause the problem, especially those who wag their tails delightedly at your approach and then start barking viciously the moment your hand reaches for the letter box. It’s a great substitute for electric shock treatment, however, as it’s cheap and there’s no waiting list. But I feel at this time of my life, it is a bit of excitement I could easily do without.
This problem can be alleviated in a number of ways. Boiling, roasting, served up in a casserole, a nice stew. The possibilities are limitless for the adventurous gourmet.
Post-boxes make a creditable alternative to letterboxes. They are very prevalent in one particular estate, obviously a job lot from Poland or somewhere, as they all have a flower and “Posta” on them. They are an excellent idea, especially on houses that don’t have a letter box, and save me the trouble of smashing one of the panes of glass in the hall door to deliver the paper. The problem is that the boxes are only big enough to hold a gas bill and a postcard from Puerto del Carmen. Each sheet of the Community Voice has to be folded individually sixteen times before it is small enough to force into the tiny aperture.
I think it was Albert Einstein who first promoted the concept that things could be increased in size simply by “making them bigger.” Nowadays, even the densest astrophysicist understands this, and relatively experienced technical engineers should be able to construct a box with a larger slot. Their phone numbers are in the Golden Pages.
Believe it or not, but in Castaheany, sometimes it rains. Very rarely, I allow, but it does happen. It would help immensely if residents could whip out canvas awnings on these occasions, to help shelter us from the ravages of nature. This could be organised on a call-out level, much the way lifeboats are summonsed. At the first drop of rain, a siren sounds and householders spring into action, erecting a shelter in double quick time to protect the intrepid distributor from the deadly raindrops. I think this could work quite successfully.
I don’t want anyone to get the impression that, despite what I said at the start of this piece, I’m dissatisfied with my monthly stroll around my local estates. I’m not. I really do enjoy it, particularly when I come across hydrangeas that aren’t as well-developed as mine, or when the smell of roast dachshund wafts through an open kitchen window. My blueprint for a better workplace need not be acted on immediately, but can be implemented over time, so that we can ensure that the next generation of Community Voice distributors don’t have to endure the minor inconveniences of their spiritual forefathers.

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