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.