Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Paperboy of the Year

LAP here. I’m a frequent commenter but rare blogger. This was always MEP’s brainchild, and I selfishly enjoy reading her posts much more than creating my own so I’ve been dormant for well over a year. However, since she is still basking in the glow (a.k.a learning to manage the chaos) of motherhood times three, I offered to help a sister out.

Sometime last year, MEP gave my dad a copy of What a Paperboy Learned about Business by Jeffrey J. Fox. He enjoyed the book, especially because he’d had many of the same experiences during his five years as a paperboy. I think he could still go through, house by house, reciting the names of the neighbors on his route. On his bike every afternoon, he’d deliver the papers regardless of what weather the Midwest was serving up that day. To his best recollection, there were only two times during his tenure that his mother took pity on him and drove him around. (Hard for me to believe that my soft spoken, ever shrinking grandma could have towed such a hard line.) His work ethic apparently did not go unnoticed as he twice earned the honor of Paperboy of the Year, NTB. He maintains he learned a lot about everything from self-discipline to the art of selling from his delivery days.

Well, it’s not 1960 anymore. I have a feeling that if Jeffrey Fox or my dad lived in my neighborhood, they would cringe to see the paperboy in action. I know I do. Our afternoon paper is just a once a week community press. It is lightweight in stature and content. However, it comes to each resident once a week for the steep cost of $2.50 per month. I enjoy it to the extent that it gives progress updates on construction and new businesses in the area. If I am being honest, I also find it endlessly humorous that so many people participate in the “take the community press paper with you on vacation, take a picture of your group holding it, and send it to us for guaranteed publication” feature.

The paperboy for this ever important publication is my eighth grade neighbor. Each Wednesday, his mom drives him around in her Sienna while he tosses papers to the fifty houses in our quiet, suburban, three cul de sac’d neighborhood. And so I ask….what is the point? Is this the way his mom makes him “earn” money? Is this to pad a future resume? Is the community press really hard up to find a willing carrier? Maybe the time in the van is the source of family bonding? I’m trying not to judge; I really do just wonder.

I don’t know why it bothers me at all, but it does. Maybe it goes against my sense of right and wrong, like somehow he is cheating. On a beautiful sunny day, why can’t this athletic young kid ride his bike around (come to think of it, not sure I’ve ever even seen him on a bike?) and actually talk to a neighbor or two? Am I making too much of this? Maybe I am still bitter from this weekend when he came to collect* and rang the doorbell, instantly waking my one year old. Did I mention that his dad was sitting in his van out front, following him around the neighborhood and giving him the occasional lift from house to house as he collected? I know it’s not 1960, but I guess I just hate to think this is the new standard for paperboys. What do you I being too dramatic?

*Once a month, he puts an envelope in our paper which we are to leave on our front door by noon on Sunday so that he can collect. Not a bad system, but I failed to have ours out at that time which is why we had any interaction at all that day.

MEP wants to know if any of her other readers are interested in doing a guest post. If so, send her an email at She’d be thrilled!


The Empress said...

Exactly. The pizza delivery kids around here drive nice cars than I do!!!

WHo delivers pizzas in a Lincoln Navigator???

You are dead on...

Amy said...

We quit getting the paper delivered b/c it annoyed me so much that half the time our paper landed in our neighbor's yard and on Sunday's I was lucky if we got the paper before noon and without me having to call to say I had not received it.

Actchy said...

I'm with you on this, LAP.

That said, our papers (we get two, NTB) are right outside our door every morning and I have no idea how they get there. We live in an apartment building, so clearly the person is neither in a car or on a bike. At least, while they are in-house, they're not. Are the papers delivered to the doornam and distributed by building staff? Does the same person/service deliver to several buildings? How many can one person handle? Is it a teenager? An adult?

You may ask exactly how I manage to tip my delivery person if I don't know my delivery person.


mep said...

I keep thinking of Better Off Dead and the "I want my two dollars" paperboy. Sure, that kid was a psycho, but talk about a passion for one's job . . .

I'm with you on simply wanting to understand the logic of a child having a paper route but not doing the actual work himself.

Also, completely delighted by the idea of the community press vacation photos.

Thanks so much for posting, LAP!

kenz said...

Being in graduate school for health and exercise...this especially erk's me...and we wonder why America's children keep getting bigger..and bigger...and bigger...and then grow up to be bigger and bigger and bigger

oh my...get that kid a bike!!!

PITA said...

I dont get a paper delievered to my house anymore for a variety of reasons. But these are just the sort of things that annoy me. I think all around kids are just way different now a days.

E... said...

My paper boy only gets driven around when it's really nasty out, and even then, I've seen her follow him in the van while he pulls the wagon behind him wearing his rain slicker. She does usually accompany him, but he's only in 3rd grade!
Your delivery boy's situation would truly bother me, too, kind of like the people who drive their kids to the bus stop in perfectly nice weather. Fine if you want to meet them there, but can't you all walk??

CaraBee said...

Our little community paper is delivered by an older guy who, of course, does it from his car. I don't see very many people walking deliveries of any kind. Not the mailmen, not the paperboys/girl/people, not the folks handing out flyers. They all drive It's a sad state of affairs. And likely helps to explain why we're so out of shape as a country.

And the parents driving their kids around. Just makes me sad.

Stacia said...

I was appalled to see some parents in our neighborhood shuttling their kids from driveway to driveway on Halloween. Seriously? Your kids are going to get and ingest bucketfuls of sugar and you're not even going to make them walk down the sidewalk to collect it? Let's just say, I put away the Reese's and pulled out the raisins when they got to my house. =>

east coast bro said...

the boston globe has cornered the market on slovenly, overweight, chain smoking, adult paperboys. Kind of makes me wish for a spoiled little kid in moms suv........I feel your pain though laurie.....there just aren't many Cals out there anymore

Anonymous said...

I have heard more than my fair share of paper boy stories from the king of paper boys. I guess I'm not sure what teaching moment they are working on while riding in the car delivering the paper. I guess at least the two of them are spending time together but it does seem pretty lame not walking. m

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