When I was a kid, I was a paperboy starting in 2nd grade and on into junior high. It was a modest afternoon route handed down through my older brothers. Took about an hour on my bike (I’d see how far into the route I could get each day riding no-handed). Had to “collect” every two weeks in the evenings, going door-to-door… “$2.40 please.” Oh the excuses I used to get over a couple bucks!
Now someone is protecting kids from this experience and so we have adults in cars doing the job… at least that’s what I’ve seen in many places. We’ve had good delivery service in our neighborhood… no complaints. Our favorite carrier was a high school girl saving up for college… did the route every morning at a jog to get in shape for school sports.
But the things I hear on Front Porch Forum… ay yi yi. One neighborhood forum complained that their delivery man was also a peeping Tom. Police were called. Another FPF neighborhood forum complained so long about delivery service (late, no paper, wrong location, etc.) that the newspaper eventually responded in writing through Front Porch Forum to the whole neighborhood with a broad apology and excuse and a plan to do better… not sure where that one stands today.
And one neighborhood reported that the delivery person’s car was so loud that it was waking people and, amazingly, the neighborhood’s response was to pass the hat to give the person a gift certificate to a local muffler shop. Now today the identical issue surfaced across town… did the same carrier get transferred and just pocket the gift certificate? A resident of the new neighborhood reports, after being awakened repeatedly at 4:30 AM, that the newspaper advised him to call the police… it’s not the paper’s problem.
So, the blogosphere is crowded with discussion about newspapers’ business woes as brought on by the web and other forces. But I haven’t read anywhere about the struggle to just get their product to customers’ doorstep. Where are our nation’s 12 year olds when we need them?
P.S. Of course, before Front Porch Forum it wasn’t so easy to know what was going on in a given neighborhood. Maybe it’s always been this bad. I recall tossing the paper onto the porch roof of one my customers so often that I knew where to find the closest ladder (two doors down, behind the garage) and put it to use before I was found out… lucky for me he didn’t post my bad aim online for the whole neighborhood to see!