Hello Surf Reporters! Today I’m going to share with you another shit-canned anecdote from the book project. This one stuck around for a while, and looked like it was going to make the final cut. But, it was not to be. I’m sure I’ve told this story before, but here it is again. I hope you enjoy it. -Jeff
Mrs. Hulshizer was a horrible woman. She was in her mid-50s I’d guess, smoked like she was entered in some sort of smoking contest, and tried her best not to pay for the newspapers I delivered her. We were always going round and round, but she’d eventually – and begrudgingly – fork over the cash.
I couldn’t stand the hag. She was high-maintenance and condescending. She talked down to me and sometimes laughed in my face when I’d get angry. She’d just grind out another spent cigarette in her overflowing porch ashtray, cackle like a crazy person, and tell me to try again tomorrow. It probably wouldn’t do any good, she’d sneer, but it’s worth a shot. Amazing.
She ran up a bill of $36, a lot of money to me. I told her she’d better pay up, or there would be no more papers. And that’s what happened: I cut her off. It was the nuclear option, and I knew she’d come around now. But she told me, straight-up, she’d never pay. Screw you was her attitude, and she conveyed it with clarity. Oh, this was a person of high character.
I talked to Russ, my district manager, about it, and he gave me some advice. But at the end of the day, it was my problem (as usual). I continued trying to collect off the terrible woman and she always said she didn’t have any money, and wouldn’t give it to me if she did. Then I’d see her at the store buying a cartful of cigarettes, frozen pizzas, Andy Capp hot fries, and beer. Man, I hated her more than the Los Angeles Dodgers pretty-boy, Steve Garvey. And that’s saying something.
There was a small furniture store across the street from Mrs. Hulshizer’s house, and the two guys who worked there always bought an “extra” newspaper from me. For whatever reason, they preferred to pay a quarter per day, instead of committing to a formal subscription. There were a few people like that, so I carried about five papers more than I needed. …Then, all of a sudden, the furniture guys started requesting two extras. Strange, I thought.
I began to suspect they were buying a copy for Mrs. Hulshizer. I’d seen her hanging around the store, laughing it up with a terrifying death rattle, and flirting with the two salesmen. Blecch! I suspected she’d wait until I was gone, walk over there, and get her paper every day. And that couldn’t be allowed to stand.
I confronted the furniture guys about it, and they acted like I was a paranoid schizophrenic. They pretended to be shocked and dismayed at the mere suggestion of such a thing. So I doubled back one afternoon, and hid behind the carpet cleaning place, to see what happened. And sure enough… Mrs. Hulshizer came shuffling out of her crumbling house of cigs, and returned a few minutes later with one of my extras.
The next afternoon I told the boys at the furniture store they’d have to get their newspapers elsewhere, and they laughed at me. As I completed my route that day, I wondered how hard it would be to make a Molotov cocktail, and how fast a roomful of recliners and mattresses might burn. It was an enjoyable fantasy.
One evening a well-dressed man I didn’t recognize asked if I had any extras, and I looked at him with skepticism.
“You aren’t going to give it to her, are you?” I said, gesturing in the direction of the smoke cloud on yonder porch.
He acted confused, and I believed he was OK. So I sold him a paper, and he walked directly over to Mrs. Hulshizer and handed it to her.
I thought my head would explode. My face was burning with anger as the old bitch began waving the newspaper at me in triumph, and the stranger buckled over in laughter.
What the hell, man? I was a 16 year old kid. What was this, Prick Alley?
While playing ping-pong in a friend’s garage a few nights later, I began talking about Mrs. Hulshizer again. She’d become a mini-obsession. It wasn’t so much the money, although that was part of it. It mostly had to do with the taunting.
Several of the attendees knew the story by heart, but some guys were hearing it for the first time. All of us were paperboys, or FoPBs (friends of paperboys). So, the part about the guy who’d bought the extra off me, then turned around and handed it to the hag, caused a primal reaction. That was a bridge too far.
Before long there was talk of revenge in the air. We came up with a plan, and vowed to implement it – not on some nebulous and undefined future evening – tonight! Oh, this was going to happen. We swung by a few additional paperboys’ houses, told them what was going on, and they joined the cause. In short order we’d organized a full-blown paperboy posse, and the crowd was in no mood for negotiation.
We moved silently through the streets, our goal defined and understood. Then we took our positions, somebody gave the signal, and rocks were hurled from all directions, breaking nearly every window in Mrs. Hulshizer’s house almost simultaneously. I’ve often wondered about her reaction when the hammer came down. Was she in there watching Quincy, when every window on the front and back of her house exploded? The shattering seemed to go on for minutes, and we could barely run for laughing.
For the record, it’s not the way I’d now counsel young people to deal with their problems. It wasn’t my finest moment. But if there was ever a person who was asking for it, it was Mrs. Hulshizer. So, screw her. I feel not a single droplet of remorse. If there’s a Mount Rushmore of Miserable Bitches somewhere, her face is surely represented.
And as I passed her house the next day I saw her smoking on the front porch (of course), with big sheets of cardboard where her windows used to be. I just walked straight ahead, expressionless, struggling with the effort of not breaking out in a huge smile.
A few days later Russ asked if Mrs. Hulshizer had ever paid me, and I said, “No, but it’s handled.” And I think he’d been around long enough to just allow the conversation to end there.
Adults are usually nice to kids, or just ignore them. Do you remember any who were full-on assholes like Mrs. Hulshizer? If so, please tell us about it in the comments. Who was the shittiest adult you encountered as a kid? This could be a good one!
See ya next time, my friends.
Now playing in the bunker
Use the Surf Report’s webhost: HostGator!
Billy Joel says
I like JK!
WB in OH says
“Mount Rushmore for Miserable Bitches” lol, I’m totally stealing that.
Jerry in WV says
This person will remain nameless, becuase it is quite possible members of his family read this site. Anyway, he lived 3 doors down the street from me when I was growing up and was a total ass!! I played with his children, but when he was around I would leave. He was mean to everyone and told me more than once that if he ever caught me walking on his grass, he would cut both of my ears off!!!! This was terrifying to a 6 year old. Once I was a teenager, whenever he was a prick, I told him so. The sad thing, his wife was a wonderful, caring person. Never understood the connection.
Billy Joel says
I grew up in Florida, so I had to learn from a rather young age that there were just about always dangerously and viciously mean crackers lurking somewhere in the general vicinity. Needless to say, I can remember numerous run-ins with menacing ‘adults’ that should have probably been incarcerated.
I am against capital punishment as a general rule, but can concede the need for it in places like Florida.
If this was cut, I can’t wait to see what stayed.
I had a paper route when I was a kid but never had anybody as bad as Mrs. Hulshizer. She got off easy if you ask me. I did have a couple of old bags that needed dealing with, but nothing so egregious. I got a stamp made with my name and address and another that had “Please Remit $__________” and “For the Month of__________.” Every month I would fill them out with the price of the subscription and the month and include them in the paper when I threw it. Almost all of my customers would just mail me a check, with two exceptions. One lady always made me come collect and I suspect she didn’t always have money so she would peek out the window and not answer the door when I’d come to collect, so I started bringing a friend with me to ring the bell while I stood at the window she peeked out of and smiled and yelled “HI, I’M HERE TO COLLECT FOR THE PAPER!” She started answering the door.
The other lady started deducting the price of her stamp from the cost of the subscription (stamps were a quarter and the paper was a whopping $10.50 a month.) So she would cross out the amount, write in $10.25 and send a check for that amount. She did it twice before I got pissed. So I raised the price of her subscription to $11 a month. She called wailing and my Dad (who wasn’t one to back me up usually) told her that HE told me to change it to cover the cost of her envelopes and rubber bands (yes, Jeff, I shamefully used rubber bands.) so she could either pay me the $.50 she shorted me and start paying the $10.50 a month, or go buy her papers from the Q-mart. I didn’t always get along with that man, but he did me a solid that day.
The old prick Mr. Quicken. I used to get a ride to kindergarten with them – his daughter and I were in the same class. One day his daughter tickled me and I said “Oh, you little bugger.” and old man Quicken fucking snapped and screamed at me “We don’t use that kind of language in THIS house.” I had no idea what I said was wrong. I started to refuse to go to school. It took my parents about 2 weeks to get the full story out of me.
Another gem was Mr. Vitaliano. He worked nights so any time we went over to his house to play with the daughter we had to go to thew smelly basement lest we wake the roaring old bastard. He would YELL. A lot. That’s when I’d make a bee line for the front door. They only reason we liked playing at Anne’s house was teh amount of candy they always had.
Don’t even get me started on Mrs. Marshall. The Queen Cuntal of 10th grade English Lit.
Joe T. says
Best 5 minutes of my day so far was reading this.
I too was a paperboy and a few folks were high maintenance. Mrs O’Conner made me take her trash out each week; for a whomping 10 cent tip. One guy ran over my brothers bike that I was borrowing to deliver his papers. The guy replaced it with a used piece of shit of a bike. We gave it to my little sister as it was closer to pink than purple in color. The local priest insisted that I deliver the paper to the back porch and put it in the door. The funny thing about that was there was a case of empty 16 oz beer there every week. A real boozer who would always say he just paid me a few days before. Tough spot to put a teenager to accuse a priest of being a liar and drunk. In retrospect he was probably that and more.
I am reminded a little of the paperboy from “Better Off Dead”. Two dollars!
I can’t think of any adults that were constantly a problem. There may have been, but no one stands out at the moment.
Generally, I am in favor of payback and I support the idea of vendetta. I believe you were justified.
Personally I’d never would have had the balls to do it. I salute you and your posse of vigilantes.
That should never lie on the cutting room floor. It is gold!!!!
Man, this was awesome. Can’t wait for the book!
Anyway, worst adults. The only one who comes to mind is a school principal, Pastor Walker of St. Stephen’s Lutheran school in Brooklyn. I’d give his first name if I remembered it. He was more than just a hardass, but seemed to actively dislike children. The incident stuck in my brain is from 6th grade, when my best friend and I had committed some grievous infraction – I forget what it was. For our punishment, the man of the cloth made us lie face-down on the gym floor and had all available students walk on our backs. In his mercy, he had them take off their shoes first.
This happened during my first year at that school, which was also my last.
Ozzie Bucco says
Luckily I never had a paper route or had to depend on a paperboy to deliver the paper. My parents had the daily papers saved at Leo & Phil’s candy store. One of us had to hoof it or bike to get the paper.
The mean neighbor was Mrs. Enz, a particularly putrid woman who lived a couple of blocks away. She lived across the street from a vacant lot where we played baseball and football. Her yard was known as the “Enz Zone.” If a ball happened to end up on her property, she’d come out with a knife and stab the ball. We had to outrun her so that we could continue our games.
When I was a kid there was a vacant lot on our block. It was about two houses wide, for the row house that were typical there. People dumped their broken TVs and washing machines there. It was our baseball field.
One of the houses adjacent to the lot was inhabited by an “old” man. Whenever he saw up playing he would stick his head out the window and yell at us in Italian. I never thought of him as malicious; more like comic relief. None of us knew his name. Because he was bald, we called him Skinhead. This was long before that term was co-opted, etc. etc.
Bill in WV says
I had a lard-ass woman on my route who owed me 20-some dollars at one time. This was a lot since the paper was like $1 per week. I kept delivering her paper, but would find a dog turd each day (some of them WHITE!) and would roll that sucker into the mix and toss it on her porch. She never did pay me, I cut her off and that was that. I made the money up from a chronic drunk bastard on my route. I collected off him one night and he owed $4.00 total. He handed me two bills and shut the door in my face. I turned to walk off his porch and realized that he handed me a $20, a $10, a $5 and a $1. BINGO – $36.
Bill in WV says
Make that “he handed me four bills”.
I want my 2 dollars!
Shut up, JK, it WAS your final moment! As a former paperboy, AND Newspaperboy of the year for the Seattle Times (yeah I kissed butt, lol). I know how it goes. Some people just “never” seem to have a couple of bucks. Other people, like Mr. B was hard to find home, but he’s always give me a $5 tip on a $2 bill. Another great lady, a waitress, would always give me a tip in the amount of a milkshake at the restaurant she worked.
Okay, my final paperboy story deals with collecting. The Mom went back to get the money from her purse, and left me talking to her little kid. He said, “Guess where we’re going?” Perplexed I ssaid, “I don’t know.” And the kid blurted out, “We’re going to the liqour store!” Okay….so much for paper routes, lol!
Bill in WV says
Kids do say the darndest things, don’t they? One of my grandson’s came up with a doozie a couple of weeks ago. His mother (my stepdaughter) just gave birth to their fifth child back in April. They were all at the grocery store on a Saturday and a lady commented to my stepdaughter about having five children in this day and asked her how did she manage it. My grandson Trevor blurted out “she’s not having anymore babies, she had her antenaes tied”. I damn-near shit myself when I heard this.
Bill, seriously, get a notebook and write all of these “isms_”for your kids and grandkids. My daughters totally love the wackiness of their childhood, which I have kept track of. Oh, and the diaper change pictures are priceless when they get engaged, lol
I too, was a paperboy. I can’t recall any particularly bad customers, most of them were quite nice to me. I did hate collecting the money. Some folks eat dinner at 4, some at 8; some have young children, some are never home on certain evenings, I could never pick the right night or time for everyone. As long as I had enough to pay for the papers and didn’t need the spending money (I was saving up for a mountain bike), I’d only go out collecting one night every two weeks. If I happened to miss collecting from a house for 2 or 3 pay periods, people would get upset when I finally caught them at home and asked for 6 weeks of newspaper money but that’s about it.
I had a neighbor across the street that was a full on asshole to kids. The people beside her have three girls, aged 4-8-12 at the time. All three of them are polite, friendly and genuinely nice but this neighbour bitch was a menace to them. If a ball or toy landed in her yard, she would come flying out of the house in a bathrobe and SCREAM at the kids. From her side of the fence, she reached through with scissors and cut up the kids hockey net.
In our area of the suburbs, many neighbours have laneways that are siamesed together. This woman had a fence installed between the laneways. The last couple sections of fence between the laneways are only about 3 1/2 feet high so it’s more about defining the property line than about privacy. While not especially neighbourly, it’s not a huge deal. However, the bitch installed angle iron along the outside top edge of the fence so that if the nice neighbours accidentaly nudge the fence with a car door, it would scratch their car. Or if you had to grab the fence for some reason or if you accidently leaned against it or rubbed along it, you could cut yourself. That, my friends, is full on asshole territory!
Bill in WV says
I would be ALL OVER THAT with revenge thinking constantly in my mind. Those are the kinds of people that I would have done donuts in their yard at 2:00 in the morning. Actually, I did that a few times back in the day.
Okay, paper route question…which person on your route did you lust after the most? Lost my virginity to Mrs.. at 14, Wow!
Bill in WV says
Oh, I forgot about this one woman (probably in her late 30’s/early 40’s) on my paper route. When I went to collect, she always made me come into the house while she got her purse to pay me. She would always offer me food, drinks, etc. and would try to carry on a drawn-out conversation. Come to think of it, I now think she just wanted some 12 yr old weiner.
Maybe she was actually Michael Jackson?
I was also a paperboy for the Wheeling Intelligencer, approximately 1970 to 1980.
One guy on my route was an insurance man who was a dead ringer for Angel from The Rockford Files. His wife was about 6 feet tall and always wearing slinky silk negligees with her tits hanging out and carrying a mixed drink. She would never pay me, claiming she did not have any money.
If “Angel” was home, he would pull out a $100 bill and tell me it’s all he had. It took me a few times to figure him out, so I made him take $95.00 in ones as change one time and the shit stopped.
They had one son several years older than me who was definitely a heavy drug user and probably in prison now, and another son a few years younger than me who is likely a professional cross dresser who sells BJ’s in a Vegas gay bar.
They also had a Doberman chained to the back porch that barked and growled at anyone. I would unhook this beast from the chain every chance I got just for spite. The dog would immediately take off and run all over town and “Angel” would be driving up and down alleys looking for it.
Their porch had a low corner that collected leaves and standing water, so I always threw the paper there for old Angel, of course.
Eventually, we made an agreement that I would put the paper on the front seat of his unlocked Buick and he would cut out the $100 dollar bill shit.
He never mentioned that damn dog.
Skippy in WV says
Mr. Britt would sit in a lawnchair in his driveway and shoot BB’s at kids that rode their bikes across “his sidewalk” (his driveway was connected to a public street via a public sidewalk). About a dozen of the neighborhood kids decided to retaliate in much the same way Mr. Kay described but we returned the favor with our own BB guns. In the middle of dozens of BB’s bouncing off aluminum siding and breaking glass, we hear a BANG!, one of co-horts had brought along a .22 rifle. A REAL FREAKING GUN!!!! We all looked at each other like”this is the end”. The law got called, but knowing what a special kind of prick he was they didn’t persue the perps too hard. He continued to sit in his driveway but he never fired another BB at another kid as long as he lived. Once he got old and feeble enough that he couldn’t sit outside anymore, we turned that once pristine yard into our personal Bonneville Salt Flats. There wasn’t a blade of grass in that yard until the house got sold after they passed away.