Thursday, July 27, 2006
Running paper route
The past few Wednesdays the publisher has actually had to work.
Delivering papers around our county kind of carried me back to when I first started in this business.
Just out of college I worked for my hometown newspaper, The Hamilton Progress, in Hamilton, Ala. Editor Les Walters and I would stay up all night getting the newspaper to bed, we’d go home and get maybe a couple of hours of sleep and then we’d be off to Fulton, Miss., where our newspaper was printed.
Back then the newspaper owned a little Chevrolet S-10 with a camper on the back.
We’d wait on the papers to get printed off the press at The Itawamba County Times and then we’d load them into the little truck.
The back of the truck was almost dragging the pavement, particularly on the weeks we had larger papers.
Les and I liked to call it “our S-10 in the wind.”
When we got back to Hamilton, we’d split up, Les going one way to deliver newspapers to racks and vendors, and myself going the other way to do the same.
The past three weeks I’ve been behind the wheel of The South Reporter van en route to Oxford to pick up the newspapers, bring them back to the office for stuffing and then deliver in the Holly Springs and Byhalia areas.
I’ve had the “white van in the wind.”
I didn’t know I could get up at 4:30 a.m. anymore. But I did. And it was quite nice seeing the sun rise.
The first week my oldest daughter Emma went with me. The next week I had Andy alongside. The third week I was training my replacement.
There were several nice things about running the newspaper route. First and foremost was spending some one-on-one time early in the morning with two of my children. Needless to say, between their busy summer and my busy work schedule, we don’t get a lot of time to talk about things.
Plus, I found they’re both good workers. They were a huge help.
Secondly, running a newspaper route on Wednesday and sweating after being at a computer pretty much all day Monday and Tuesday can be a stress reliever.
Thirdly, delivering the newspaper is reassuring of its importance to the community.
Several months back I ran Claude Vinson’s route a couple of weeks, too. It goes to Potts Camp, Hickory Flat, Ashland, and along Highway 72.
On both routes, folks are looking for their newspapers, and the quicker the better.
For example, we’ll get to a vendor location at 10 a.m., and the person behind the counter will say he or she had people looking for newspapers at 8 a.m.
“They want their papers,” is said often by store clerks.
Most of the stores I go into I sell newspapers before I ever get them placed in the racks. Last week, for instance, a lady waited in a car, saw us coming, and walked up with 50 cents in hand.
“I need a paper,” she said. “I can’t wait to get it each week.”
At another stop, two men were about to leave one store without their newspapers and go try another one. We arrived just in time. They saw The South Reporter van and bought a couple just as I cut the strings from the bundle.
In all, The South Reporter makes about 82 stops on a Wednesday.
It’s a great feeling – knowing that folks look so forward to reading their weekly, community newspaper. Being able to run the route through places like Waterford, Red Banks, Barton, Slayden, Chulahoma makes me realize once again one of the reasons I got into this business. It’s the people.
There’s no better way for a people person to be around people than to publish a weekly newspaper.
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