Thursday, February 23, 2012
Running the route
Typically, on weekdays, I wake up about 6:30 a.m.
That’s not been the case the past couple of Wednesdays – and again this week most likely.
Pam sets the alarm for 4:15 a.m. But last week it didn’t go off. I awoke at 4:45 a.m. and made it to The South Reporter office at 5 a.m.
Jerome Johnson, one of our newspaper delivery route drivers, has been out sick.
Yours truly has filled in.
It’s not the first time. I’m sure this week won’t be the last.
In a small business, everyone, including the boss has to pitch in where needed to get the job done.
The South Reporter is printed by the pressroom crew at The Oxford Eagle. We send the pages over electronically, via the computer, the night before (Tuesday).
Highway 7 South, the route to pick up the newspapers on a weekly basis, is pretty quiet at 5 a.m.
I do the best I can to stay awake – usually turning up the radio in the van. That’s after stopping for some early morning caffeine.
Once in Oxford, it takes about 30 minutes to load up before heading back.
One of the things I like most about being a substitute delivery driver is seeing the sun come up. There’s not a prettier scene in God’s creation.
This particular delivery route begins in the edge of Lafayette County about 6 a.m., hits a few rural stores south of Holly Springs, covers all of the city and then goes on to Red Banks, Victoria, Byhalia, Barton, Warsaw and Watson. It’s about 50 stops in all, including post offices along the way.
The other route, manned by Claude Vinson, goes everywhere else – like Potts Camp, into Hickory Flat and Ashland in Benton County and on to Slayden and Mount Pleasant areas along Highway 72.
The best words I hear when visiting the newspaper vendors are “sold out,” and that’s a regular occurrence.
Typically, I sell a new newspaper or two as soon as I walk in some stores – while I’m unbundling them and placing them in the racks.
Our customers generally purchase their newspapers at the same place each week, and once they get used to you getting there at a certain time, they expect it every time.
That’s OK. It’s definitely a good thing. And it’s up to us to meet those expectations.
My favorite part of the route is simply seeing and talking with Marshall Countians. There are lots of good folks, from one end of the county to the other.
Some seem shocked that “the boss” is actually working.
One lady told me last week, “I can’t believe you’re doing this.”
Actually, I enjoy it, and I learned the ropes way back.
My newspaper delivery days actually began as a young reporter at The Hamilton Progress, a weekly newspaper back then in my hometown of Hamilton, Ala.
I would ride with the editor, Les Walters, over to Fulton and the offices of The Itawamba County Times. He had a little Chevrolet S-10. We liked to call our routine – “S-10 in the wind.”
When we got back to Hamilton, we would usually split up in different directions.
Those “fill-in” days continued during my newspaper work in Fulton, Red Bay, Ala., and Aberdeen.
I’ve never been one to sit in the office.
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Holly Springs, MS 38635
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