The Paper Boy

A blast from the past jogs the memory of a most honorable of professions, and some of the hardest weather you can imagine!

(This is my own personal blog, not the opinion or the station, my family nor anyone else, just me!)

I got an unusual phone call this morning.  I had slept in because the family had left early to attend a band concert event at the high school. (My son is in his senior year of High School and so is valuing every last event, gathering, concert and opportunity.)

I got to sleep in, not being required to be there.  But the phone rang once and I rolled over to answer it.

":Hello, Mark?" said a adult voice.

"No, who are you looking for?" I asked sleepily.

"Don't you deliver the local Newspaper?" asked the voice, and I recognized that it was an older person.

Now, both of my children, at my encouragement, started delivering the newspaper daily some 8 or 9 years ago, when my son was just old enough to handle it.  Every morning before school, he would fold his papers and ride his bike around to drop the 20 or so papers on his route, and then return to catch the bus to school.


Once in a while, I would wake to a note asking me if I could handle it that morning because of something catastrophic...the papers were printed late, it was pouring rain, half the papers were wet from where they dropped them... whatever.  Always, I would take care of it, so I got to know his route at least as well as he did.

After a year and several small paychecks allowed him to buy a Game-Boy of his dreams, my daughter wanted to get in on the act, and so she also got her own paper route. The routine was basically the same, with only an occasional miss or problem.  I was used to being their back-up.

But it had been several years now since the paper decided to do away with all student carriers and do all delivers themselves through motor-carriers.  We had been given no notice, just one day a phone call came informing us that the kids were laid-off. (Fired, actually, though they both got two weeks pay.)

So this call came quite out of the blue.

"No, the paper took over their own delivery several years ago," I calmly informed the caller, without a hint of resentment in my voice. "We have no connection to them."

"Oh, OK," said the elderly woman, and I felt so sorry for her, trying to place the voice, that I added...

"Is there anything else we can do for you?"  I had visions of running to the corner vending machine and buying a single copy to deliver to her.

She snorted and in a laughing voice, said, "No, I guess not, Sorry." She hung up.

I got to thinking about it.  My son delivered papers for seven years. Daily. Every day, except for holidays, band camp or vacations..and then, had arranged a replacement (DAD) or alerted his customers that the paper would be delayed some days.

In all kinds of weather, he delivered...rain, snow, heat, sleet, wind, darkness or sunshine.  Never did he complain, but just accepted the responsibility to get the task done in a timely fashion.

Now he's about to graduate, near the top of his class, probably going on to college with a scholarship.  He's thinking about law school or something with logic, strategy or similar mental challenge.

And I have to wonder, was it his experience in delivering papers that made him into the fine person, the success full student that he is, or is it the other way around?  Did his personal qualities make him the good, dependable paper boy?

Doesn't matter.  The paper (who will remain nameless) decided they couldn't afford having kids delivering their paper. They'd rather pay a man to drive his car around daily and throw the paper at the doorstep.  

And today, somebody forgot, or missed, or needed some personal service.  But they don't know who it is anymore.  They've got my son's number, but not the right name.  Doesn't matter, he's not in that business any more.

But the impulse to jump up and go deliver that one missing paper was strong this morning.

I guess some values of customer service never die.

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