From the eyes of a newspaper carrier

What do you think I have in common with John Wayne, Martin Luther King Jr. and Warren Buffet?

What do you think I have in common with John Wayne, Martin Luther King Jr. and Warren Buffet?

There’s an excellent chance you do, too.

The illustrious three people mentioned above were all newspaper carriers once. All three of them are members of the Newspaper Carrier Hall of Fame in the U.S., which the International Circulation Managers Association launched in 1960.

While a paper route might fall short of meeting the requirements of a “job,” it has some of the classic criteria.

Carriers perform a service in exchange for payment. They are hired and some are fired.

For many of us, delivering newspapers was our introduction to the workworld. Being a paper carrier taught us the value of earning our own money and being responsible.

While I impatiently await the launch of Be Kind to Editors Day, I discovered International Newspaper Carrier Day last year.

The annual Oct. 8 salute recognizes the hundreds of thousands of newspaper carriers who deliver more than 45 million newspapers to more than 100 million readers every day.

Black Press decreed that all publishers and editors would deliver a route last year, a mandate supported by company heavyweights such as B.C. chief operating officer Rick O’Connor setting an example.

Although I was unable to participate last year due to a family emergency, I joined Black Press owner David Black, O’Connor and many others this year.

Publisher Jo Ross, sales reps Peter Diespecker and Liz Tribe, production manager Susan Granberg, graphic designer Debbie Salmon and myself all walked the streets of the Comox Valley, newspapers in hand.

The Comox Valley Six lucked out this year, as the day dawned sunny and pleasant.

Fortified by a quick breakfast and an extra large coffee courtesy of Tim Horton, I dashed over to Park Place.

A cul-de-sac near the Rialto Theatre (but not next to Boardwalk), Park Place is one of the easier routes in the Comox Valley.

Yet I encountered some unexpected complications during the straightforward task of delivering about three dozen newspapers.

Seven addresses were listed as places where the inhabitants did not want the paper delivered. No problem.

Then I hit the first place where the mailbox prominently displayed a No Newspapers message. At other addresses, residents made it clear they did not want papers in the mailboxes, but they still wanted to get the paper.

“Does No Newspapers mean not in the mailbox, or No Newspapers?” I wondered.

The papers I carried were getting heavy and I had to get to work ASAP with a busy day ahead, so I gingerly dropped a Record onto the doormat.

I was continuing merrily when a woman rushed up behind me, carrying the newspaper I had just plopped in front of her door.

She reminded me, not unkindly, that her sign said No Newspapers. I explained my dilemma, apologized and explained what had led to such a rookie delivering on her street.

She seemed sincerely bemused that the editor himself had attempted to give her a newspaper she did not want, but she didn’t change her mind.

I carried on, following various instructions (including two helpful arrows at one place indicating the newspaper’s desired resting place).

I apologize for not delivering a paper to anybody who wanted one and leaving a Record for anybody who didn’t want it.

If you really don’t want one, call Record circulation manager Terry Marshall, otherwise known as the complaint department. He doesn’t usually hear from people until something goes wrong.

He’s an efficient, likeable, hard-working guy who is frequently victimized by press breakdowns, bad weather, already-heavy papers gorged with flyers, inexperienced drivers/carriers, and the ongoing challenge of finding enough reliable carriers.

Please be patient when you complain. And, if you want to freak him out, contact Terry with a compliment if all is well with your delivery of our twice-a-week miracle. He won’t expect that.


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