Observations while delivering phone books

Friday a new phone book landed on my desk and reminded me: It is once again time for the delivery of the area phone book to the front porches and drives of local homes. It reminded me of the spring I answered a classified ad for part-time work delivering phone books. I found a harried manager, working out of a temporary office set up in a back wing of a local hotel. I was handed a list of addresses, a map and told to pick up the bundles of phone books I needed from the back of a nearby semi-truck van.
Two sweating men tossed plastic bound stacks of phone books into the back of my car. I drove off with the tail end of my compact car scraping the ground. Studying the addresses on the lists, I planned my route for delivering one heap of phone books.
Delivers was no problem – especially with the houses close together like they are between North and South Park Streets. There, I found it easier to walk up one side of the street and down the other leaving one or two phone books as ordered at each house.
Along North Smith Street, the houses were too spread out to walk quickly from one to another. I drove in and out, up and down every driveway in suburbia delivering books.
Beside each address was a specific number of books to deliver to each house. I decided someone had made a few mistakes: Like the mansion on a hill that my list said only required one book. I could not believe it. With the size of that place, the number of cars and people outside, I stopped and asked if one was enough. After the man in the yard called on a phone to someone inside, I was asked to leave five books, instead of just one. I noted the change on my list for the next year’s phone delivery person and continued delivering down the street, musing that probably others needed more, butt few were home to ask.
Delivering phone books is a rather easy job. Find the house matching the address, pull out the book or two and check it off my list. Once I figured out that routine, I began studying the front porches where I left the books.
Many of them looked very unused. I suppose, in this time of air-conditioners and busy lives, that is to be expected. Often only wasp nests, white thready pouches of spider eggs and last fall’s wind-blown leaves rustling in the front porch corners welcomed me.
Other porches were freshly swept and charmingly decorated – without a place to sit in sight. The time when a kitchen stool was sufficient furniture for porch sitting is long gone, But even the porches that looked warm and welcoming from my car – with a place to sit, or a porch swing for sitting and swinging up close, obviously hosted only the wind and sun.
By the time I finished delivering my heap of phone books, I concluded that folks just don’t sit and talk now – they’re too busy, About the only folks chatting on the front porch these days are talking on a cordless phone as they step outside to pick up their new phone book.