Don’t Let the Back Guy Drive

I worked through much of my college years. Summer and Christmas breaks were spent at a local retailer. My sophomore and junior years were spent as a resident advisor in the dorms. It was a great gig with free meals and housing and a very small monthly stipend in cash. I think it was $70 a month for your first year and $80 for your second.

For my last quarter at Ohio State, I had moved out of the residence halls and into an apartment. Well, it was really a half-way house for those too accustomed to dorm life. It was a high-rise apartment that was furnished, had utilities included and even had someone on the floor that played a role similar to an RA. They even filled the apartments bed by bed, like dorm assignments. Other than having a kitchen and having to cook my own meals, it was eerily similar to the residence halls.

To help pay the bills I knew I needed a job. For a few short nights I worked as a telemarketer for Publisher’s Clearinghouse. Yup, that one. The one with the $1 million giveaway. I tried to sold magazines to people who didn’t want or need them. I hated the job and walked away from it very quickly. I then turned to a job somewhat related to my major.

As a journalism major (specializing in public relations), I had written, edited and taken pictures for the school paper. With a daily circulation (5 days a week) of over 50,000, it was actually one of the most read newspapers in the state of Ohio. I could have taken a job in the advertising department selling ads, but it was just too close to the job I had just left. One other option, though, was delivery. I took it.

Like any other morning newspaper, it was delivered really early in the morning. Being a campus newspaper, however, delivery meant stacks of newspapers to locations both on and off campus, not individual delivery to homes. I was assigned to one of the two crews and showed up the next morning at 5AM to start my shift.

I met the other two guys on the crew and we started by loading 250 stacks of 100 newspapers into the back of the delivery truck. There were only two trucks and one would deliver primarily on campus while the other generally hit all of the off campus locations. I found that each truck had three roles: driver, hopper and “back guy”. The driver, drove. The hopper would take the papers from the truck to either the paper box or store. The hopper would identify how many were needed at the next stop and the “back guy” would prepare that exact number of papers for the hopper. As the new guy, I was relegated to the “back guy”.

The stacks of paper were wrapped in string and after the first day, my hands were raw. A little soaking and a purchase of leather work gloves fixed that. In August, the “back guy” worked in an oven. In December, he worked in a freezer. I didn’t mind as it was straightforward, mindless work and the crew had a lot of fun. It was always a race to see which crew would finish first and a good “back guy” was critical to keeping the truck moving.

One day the crew leader, who generally drove, asked if I wanted to drive. He wanted me to learn the route (being in the back I was clueless) in case one of the two front guys called off sick. I acquiesced and we took off. We were on the campus route that day and everything went very smoothly. I was a little slower than normal, it being my first time driving the route, so by the time we were getting to our last stops there were more cars around than normal. I pulled up for a delivery at the journalism building (ironic that it was last on the list) and as I pulled to the curb there was the unmistakable sound of tearing metal. Uh oh.

Not being used to driving the long truck, I underestimated and scraped against a university owned truck’s mirror. Thankfully they were both university vehicles! The other truck’s mirror broke but was otherwise unscathed. The delivery truck had a gash in the side about 6” tall and almost a foot in length. The metal had rolled up like the top of a tin of sardines. I was never offered the chance to drive again, but I now had a window when I was the “back guy”!

Paper Wrapped Chicken

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This chicken is wrapped in a very different kind of “paper”.

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I used boneless thighs for this recipe.

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Nicely diced and soaking up the sauce.

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These are really thin, so you don’t need much oil. Keep an eye on the temperature so it doesn’t get too hot.

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The triangles will often “puff up” during cooking.

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A great appetizer!

Paper Wrapped Chicken


1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon salad oil
1 tablespoon white wine
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 green onion, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Aluminum foil, cut into 6″ squares
Cooking oil


Combine all ingredients except the chicken.

Cut the chicken into approximately 1/4″ to 1/2″ thick and 1″ square pieces. Fold the pieces into the marinade mixture, coat well, and let them marinate in the refrigerator for about 2 hours.

Place 1 piece of chicken on a square of aluminum foil. Fold the foil over to form a triangle, then seal the open edges with small, double folds. Repeat with the remaining pieces of chicken.

Melt shortening or pour oil in a skillet to a depth of 1/2″ and heat thoroughly. Drop chicken packages into the skillet and cook 1 1/2 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels.

Serves 6 as a dinner appetizer, 2 or 3 appetizers per guest.


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Categories: appetizer, Chicken2, Chinese, Fried, kosher, Low Carb, Recipes, Wine

Author:The Ranting Chef

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