When I was twelve, my older brother Justin got a paper route. Shortly after, I, then my siblings Holland and then Ben got one... according to our respective birth order.
Mine was in Eden Prairie, MN and took about thirty minutes. There were just shy of a hundred homes in the neighborhood so my mom would drop Holland, Ben and me off with our newspaper sacks each full of around 30 papers.
This was of course a solid decade before poor people or small children had cell phones, so when we finished the route, it was up to our mother's memory, mercy and discretion to pick us up. I watched Holland and Ben play on the neighborhood playground. They were seven and eight years old.
A haggard looking man approached. His gait suggested the influence of chemicals, and his shaggy hair and clothes, as well as his odor, suggested homelessness. He dragged on a cigarette and raised a 40 to his mouth but paused, noticing me out of the corner of his eye.
"Ma'am I hope it's okay I drink this beer in front of your children."
(Did I mention it was probably 11 am?)
"They're not... my children... I'm..." I stammered, "I'm twelve."
"Uhhh, I guess that means you don't mind."