Although my Social Security record showed employment every year of my life from age seventeen, some months of my working life I was unemployed. Good reasons like pregnancies and babies; other reasons like layoffs, or telling them “take your job and ……”.
Turning the help wanted pags one day during a period of unemployment I found a temporary job whose description seemed innocuous. Delivering soap samples. Several times a week I drove to the warehouse district of Cleveland and loaded cases of 144 one pound boxes of Tide detergent into my Dodge Charger. What ignominy for such a great car. Boxes of plastic bags and accompanying literature went in the front seat.
At home I unloaded the cases, unloaded the boxes, put each in a plastic bag, along with the coupons and flyers, and stacked them densely in the Charger. Then I took my trusty red and yellow Commercial Survey map book, turned to the neighborhood assigned for the next day and figured out my route.
In the morning I would arrive at my neighborhood, and park my car ten houses down the street. I loaded up with soap samples. The bags had holes for hanging over a doorknob, and I could get maybe fifteen or twenty on my fingers. I started at the house by my car, worked my way up to the cross street, crossed and went down. Back at the car, I loaded up and repeated the process. Then I moved the car where it had to be and started again.
Whatever company was in charge of this advertising campaign kept us honest. There were “checkers” who drove the neighborhoods, looking for yellow boxes on front doors. My neighborhoods passed every time. I was offered a promotion to supervisor; I turned it down flat.
There are neighborhoods in Commercial Survey Company maps that do not exist except in city planners’ dreams. Not to be caught flatfooted when the development might actually be built, the Commercial Survey Company and city planners, in cahoots, put them right in those books with no disclaimer. This neighborhood soap deliverer was mighty unhappy to be deceived so.
Dogs often accompanied me as I delivered soap through neighborhoods. I could not understand the attraction until a lovely lab adopted me for a morning. He often nudged me turning up a sidewalk, but I didn’t understand him until he would physically block me. Then I realized we were on his newspaper route, and that house was not a customer.
At the end of the job my clothes no longer fit; I probably was twenty pounds lighter. An engineer at a subsequent job I took laughed at the tale of the job I had for a summer, and calculated I had walked I don’t remember how many hundreds of miles, carrying an average of ten pounds. I wish I could recall how much we were paid per box. That would be really amusing.
I was looking for a Tide box from 1969 and found the 1974 Wacky Packages Series.