Dawn warriors do the rounds
By NERIDA BLOK
MATT PRIOR is a dawn warrior. He is one of Lismore's last delivery boys who use their bicycles to get the newspaper to the readers every morning.
The Lismore High School student spends his early mornings fending off dogs and suspicious police as a paperboy for Keen Street newsagency, Keenews.
"Coppers pull us up and harass us because we look suss in our balaclavas and gloves," Matt said.
"And we have to hit dogs with the papers to stop them chasing."
Matt shares the Keenews paper round with three mates, Luke Whittingham, Mitchell Pickford and Keegan Isbester.
They work in pairs on alternate weeks, from Monday to Sunday, starting at 5am.
"If there's enough time, I'll go have a sleep then go to school," Matt said.
Marking an anniversary of sorts, Matt, who turns 15 today, said he started the job three years ago on his 12th birthday.
"When I was younger it was the only job I could get. I was too young for McDonalds," he said. "We average five to six kilometres. It's good fitness riding up and down hills and helps me with soccer, but a bummer when you have to wake up at 4am."
He said winters were the worst.
"It's freezing," said Matt. "Sometimes its zero degrees with a cold wind blowing in your face. A year ago I caught pneumonia."
Savings from his part-time employment has enabled Matt to go halves with his dad in buying a car, which he is looking forward to using once he is old enough to drive.
Keenews newsagency owners Jeff and Tony Pilati admire their paperboys' work ethic.
But Jeff said he learned the bike-run himself when he and his brother took over the business 11 weeks ago, 'just in case one got sick or had an accident'.
"Such as failing breaks on a steep decent," he laughed, remembering one particular incident.
"We were on a return trip to a sub-agency one morning when one a paperboy flagged us down and told us Luke had crashed. There was skin off his hands, papers everywhere and buckled wheels."