I’m sure you’re getting tired of this green couch and tan wall but I promise that I have some words to accompany that won’t disappoint! (‘Promise’ might be a stretch here…) I have been a newspaper carrier: I’ve tossed them, I’ve banded them, I’ve bagged them. However, it was not too long ago that this was my little task! And so the story begins…
A guy I know, or rather my mother knows, was a newspaper carrier to supplement his job as a school substitute and he was accepted for a job off in the no-mans-land of Oregon close to Idaho so obviously leaving the route was the least of his worries. However, he needed someone to fill his time before the newspaper found a full-time replacement or he would owe them bundles of money and be in a mess. Granted, he found out about the job about a week before school started and had to move and yadayada so I was doing him a huge favor. “Don’t worry about it,” he said… “It’s really easy,” he said… Well. Those two statements were not exactly to be proven true in my three and a half weeks of torture!
One morning, so early in the morning, he picked me up to go run the route with him – as if that one time would clear everything up. The combination of my outdated prescription glasses, fog, 5 AM darkness, and the lights on inside the car basically summed up to my blindness and complete and utter lack of retention. With some terrible notes jotted down, a killed headache, and major confusion I went back to bed and dreaded having to do it on my own the next morning. Or, at least alone with my equally confused angel of a mother to help me.
Let me tell you right now that you should never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever agree to take over a route on one day’s notice, in a town you do not live in, with misprinted maps to be polite. And who knew that people were so particular about their newspapers? I actually had one house complain every day for a week because (as I found out later) I was putting the paper in the wrong Democrat Herald paper box so they couldn’t find it! Obviously they wanted it on the one hidden inside the bush around the corner of the house by their pitbull’s cage. Duhhh. Whatever happened to the cliché young teen riding a bike down the street on a warm summer’s day and simply lobbing a light paper onto the driveway? …Those were the days.
Well, two bleeding knees, 3 1/2 hours, half a tank of gas, and some tears later, we had finished our first run at the paper route. Cue gigantic sigh… And I had three plus weeks until I could clear out of there and run off to Portland for school! Luckily my major organizing skill took over and my mom and I spent that afternoon with google maps on our phone running the race in daylight, marking down everything to get us through the next morning. I made a detailed Excel file with the house number, requested papers, extras, frequencies, drop site, and directions and put them in the order we’d get to them. “Second house from the end on the left; pink house two down; behind giant bush; third set of mailboxes; big RV next right corner; etc.” It took a lot of frustration, time, and effort but I could still do that route in my sleep a year later. In fact, when I was madly scrambling to get everything in order I did practice in my dreams!
To end this horror story, appreciate your newspaper carriers! No one tells you if it’s a newbie, your neighbor is actually stealing your paper, the paper company didn’t give them enough, or they just want to stop in the middle of the road and cry but they might have to deal with all of those things. It’s not terrible once you figure it out but there are some pretty nasty consequences while things aren’t quite settled. But even when it is figured out, it’s not fun! It’s cold and rainy and early. Plus, the pay wasn’t even good. So since it’s a little late today, write your newspaper carrier a thank you letter and leave it in the box. It may just make their morning go a little bit smoother.