Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The things people do for a bit of money!

We bit off more than we could chew last week!

Several weeks ago I found in our letter box a flyer looking for people to drop catalogues into letter boxes to earn good $$$$$$$ in their own district. It sounded like something that might be good for us so I logged onto their website and left my details. I imagined strolling leisurely for a few hours, enjoying the fresh air and being paid for it. In due time, a lady phoned offering a catalogue route that includes our street. The last person who did it had just hurt her back. It seems there is a pretty fast turn-over of deliverers and now I know why.

My daughter and I went to this lady's house on Monday evening and found a Mount Everest of catalogues waiting for us. It included 9 different types, including thick catalogues from Cheap as Chips and other emporiums as well as vouchers from Dominos that needed to be folded. Our job was to take them home, prepare individual rolls comprised of each of the 9 which we were to rubber band, and then have them all delivered by Wednesday at midnight. Then we were to return on Friday night and repeat the whole thing, finishing the next delivery by Sunday night. "You'll get $100 from this," she told us. Then she gave us a map of our section, which seemed to include a third of Mt Barker spanning several kilometres! I had misgivings on the spot but Emma and I lugged them into the car and they filled the whole back seat to the roof.

So that night, Logan, Emma and I were standing around the table preparing the rolls which took absolutely hours! Rubber bands were snapping, the couch was getting piled, our fingers were inky and hard to bend. And my husband was telling me, "If you'd put this much time into promoting and selling your books, it'd be great." And I said, "We haven't even started delivering yet."

Next morning we got up early, crammed bags full of catalogues into the car boot and back seat and got going. I'd drop Logan off at one cul-de-sac and Emma at another, and Blake would go with whoever he chose. I'd do another section and drive back around to pick the others up. After the first couple of streets, the kids were still saying, "This isn't too bad," but I knew it wouldn't take long for the novelty to wear off. After a few hours and several steep hills it had turned to, "My feet hurt!" and "This is a rip-off" That last comment came when we figured out that after splitting the money four ways, we'd each get only $25 for all our hard work! We went home for a quick lunch break and then got back onto the job in the afternoon.

We traipsed through very flash new sub-divisions with multi-storey homes. These were the steepest and hardest, as these people pay for the magnificent views on their lovely blocks of land. Then there were the older, poorer areas where the letter-boxes were rusty and many of the houses in need of repair jobs. This area has a gipsyish sort of charm of its own. So many homes have old, faded couches out on their porches and whimsical wind-chimes and decorations hanging from their eaves and rusting old car bodies and horse floats in their overgrown yards. I found it interesting to think that every week, people from all sections of Mt Barker rub shoulders in the shopping centre. It brought home what a varied demographic area we live in. We just didn't want to do it twice every week for a measly $25 each. Especially when we reminded each other that this would fill each and every week-end, rain and shine, as well as mid-week. Only one of us had a wow of a time and that was Blake. I think even he would soon get sick and tired of it.

So it wasn't a difficult decision to chalk this up to experience and give in our notice already. The lady didn't sound surprised. When a job keeps 4 people (or rather 3, as Blake wasn't all that much help), working flat-out for far more than 10 hours for only $100 when normal award wages for one person is around $18/hour, getting calluses on our fingers and blisters on our feet, it needs to be re-thought. Especially as it actually ended up guzzling a fair bit of petrol in the car. It turns out that lots of short, spasmodic drives in one area is as costly as a long, steady drive down to the city. Andrew worked out that at that rate, we were being paid less than 1cent/catalogue roll.

Anyway, good has come out of it. The kids are aware that there are better jobs out there than delivering catalogues, I am keen to put just as much times into writing ventures for better pay, and whenever we find our rolls of catalogues from now on (for someone has taken over from us already), we spare a thought for the poor delivery people.


  1. What a wonderful lesson for them! And yes, there are better ways to make money. Marina is in her dream job shelving books at the library. Half the time I have to remind her to deposit those paychecks!

    Peace and Laughter,

  2. That's just crazy! How do they ever keep people with pay like that for that kind of work? Wow!

  3. I guesswe all learn, If it looks to good to be true, it usually is.

    And now you know why the previous lady hurt her back?!?!

  4. Aplets and Cotlets are a wonderful little confection made in the manner of Turkish Delight. But rather than using rose water or pitaschios, it is made of apples and apricots with walnuts. They make it right here in eastern Washington.I imagine that it is what the Turkish Delight that Edmund desired from the White Witch is like. And despite what my boys think I wouldn't sell them out for some. :o)

  5. Live and learn.
    Your story reminds me of my first job. I was ten so actually too young, but since both my older brothers had a job delievering the local newspaper, the company let me have a route, too. I had to roll & bag my papers then carry them via bicycle up and down steep hills. I earned enough to by sugar cubes for the ponies along my route so I kept the job for over a year.

  6. Wow! I'm impressed that you went through with it - lesser individuals might have given up midway and just thrown away the undelivered catalogues! Good on ya! But what a tough lesson. Gives me a better appreciation for the newspaper delivery person!

    Hey, I just read "Leingangs" comment about the Aplets - my family always had these at Christmas time when I was growing up. Now, when we travel to Leavenworth, Washington, we pass at least one Aplet/Cotlet outlet.

    Have a good week!