Friday, October 15, 2010

No Sign of The Times

Once upon a time, shortly after dinosaurs ruled the earth, newspapers were delivered to our suburban homes by boys on bicycles. Usually, it was one of the kids from the neighborhood, earning his spending money after school. I knew a couple of boys who did it and they used to say the thing they hated most was somebody cursing them out because the newspaper was late or not put exactly where they wanted it.
When the local papers either switched to morning editions, the after-school job became an early-morning task and those kids were replaced by adults, in many cases a parent who didn't want Billy out riding his bike at 6 in the morning.
Somewhere along the way, the parents and kids were replaced by delivery service companies who have contracts for large areas.

Doing our best to keep the print media alive, we get three daily newspapers delivered: Newsday, The New York Times, and USA Today. Newsday is delivered by one company, while the latter two are handled by another. And, other than on a morning of terrible weather, we would awaken to find the newspapers in the driveway.

A few weeks ago, we got a note from the Times/USA Today guy that routes were being changed and he would no longer be delivering our papers. The following week, delivery was spotty, at best. One day we got the Times, the next we got USA Today, then both, then neither. One morning USA Today was on our driveway and the Times was two houses up and across the street. Presumably, we were not alone in making complaint calls, and the problems seemed to be resolved. Whoever the new delivery person was, s/he went so far as putting the papers on the front steps rather than just tossing them onto the lawn or driveway.

That person's tenure seems to have been short-lived, however. Last week, deliveries were once again spotty. On Monday, there was no USA Today. On Tuesday, there was no Times, but we did get Monday's USA Today. On Wednesday, there was no USA Today. Each time, we called.
On Thursday, Laurie was outside when the delivery guy came by. He handed her USA Today. When she told him that we also get the Times, he looked at his list and said, "No, you don't."
"Well, yes, since 1974 and except for a couple of days this week, we do!"
For the next few days, we got both.

This past Tuesday we got neither, resulting in yet another pair of phone calls. (Someone eventually delivered the papers, to our next door neighbor's house.)
On Wednesday, we got two of each, the sets being delivered about an hour apart.
Yesterday, we again got two of each.
This morning, I was about to leave for work when the delivery guy drove up. He said it was only his second day on the route and apologized for running late, but he knew which two papers I was supposed to get and handed them to me.
He also told me he had just been cursed at by one of the neighbors because he was late. I guess some things don't change...


  1. Say, now that's a remarkable story...

    I didn't know there were three newspapers still being printed in the U.S.

  2. And now, the Weekend Update...
    Saturday: No Times. I called and was told that they could no longer deliver, but they could deliver Saturday's paper on Sunday, along with all the Sunday sections that are usually delivered on Saturday.
    Sunday: Only the main sections of the Times are delivered. Another phone call...talking with two different people this time. One tells me that we have a new delivery person; I reply, "Yes, I know. I met him Friday mroning when he handed me the papers." Eventually, an entire Sunday Times is delivered.
    Monday: Monday's Times is delivered, along with Saturday's Times and the Sunday sections.
    No USA Today.