My parents were a little older than most and as such so were my siblings. My father was a banker and we were the typical Father Knows Best sitcom story. At an early age I noticed that all the adults in my life wore suits and ties to work, never got dirty at work and we all went to church every Sunday. All of our neighbors, relatives and friends dressed and did the same. I really never paid attention to the auto mechanic, the construction worker or even the old man that cut our neighbor's lawn. We were not rich, but very well off, and we were not snobs either. However, I was taught to never look down on anybody, but the typical "blue collar" work was just not our style. College was mandatory and so were chores around the house as well as part time work for our own spending money. My oldest brother had a paper route for six years until time to go to college. My next brother took over for another six years until he moved away to college as well. At age nine, I took over the route and had it for eight years until I too was ready to go away to school. One Sunday paper weighs enough by itself, but imagine a 9 year old boy with 88 of those things. Up before dawn, I tried every possible way to decrease the effort needed to get the job done. Roller skates, skateboards, little red wagon, you name it, I tried it. None of these things worked as well as just dragging that heavy bag until it was light enough to carry on my shoulder. My dad helped me open my first checking account and I was in business. Since I was a legacy on this route, everybody knew me very well. Too well when it comes to hanging out with the rowdy boys. Whenever we would do what boys do and run and hide, nobody would get caught except for "Hey, isn't that our paperboy?" My father was very strict and had no tolerance for horseplay and I learned that the hard way if you know what I mean. By age 10, all of my siblings were gone and it was just me and the parents. On my first day of sixth grade, I came racing home to announce my appointment to the student crossing guards. But the bank called. My father died at work while sitting at his desk. He was 53 years old. I quickly went from being the baby of a nuclear family to an only child with a single mom. That damn paper route was completely my own responsibility and my own source of income. My benefits went straight into my college fund, not to be touched until matriculation at the University of my choice. My father was never the mechanical type. We had a reel mower, a few tools, but he did not even change his own oil on the cars. Now that he was gone, nobody ever taught me how to do even the most basic of things, but I certainly could balance a checkbook. Without encouragement from mentors, I never pursued any knowledge of trades, skills, or vocational things. My life was put on cruise control to graduate from college, get a 'white collar' job and be who I was suppossed to be. Years passed and my Mom dated a few times. She once told me about one of her dates. He drove a pick up truck and didn't wear a tie to work. That relationship soon fizzled. When I got my driver's license it only took me one week to experience my first flat tire. Oh man, there were no such thing as cell phones. I got out the owner's manual, struggled with the job and about an hour later, I completed the task. At age 17, it was time for me to go away to college. I was finally allowed to give up that damn paper route and did some lifeguarding at the pool for the summer and off to school I went.