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Paper carriers just can't win

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By W.B. Evans

You know, I was kind of glad to see paper carriers get their due during National Newspaper Week.We should honor those who deliver the local news to our homes.Newspapers have been called many things from rags and birdcage liners to sources of enlightenment.Nothing is more aggravating than a walk to the street on a cool, crisp morning to find an empty tube (that’s industry lingo for a paper box). Once, I was ready to boil my “paper man” in oil because my paper was missing on several occasions.It had been a rather restless night and I had been up and down almost every hour.I finally gave up and strolled outside to welcome in the morning. Just as I hit the door, a truck pulled away from my paper box.But when I there and reached inside, all I found was a whole bunch of nothing.Now, I was no longer sleepy or restless, I was mad and I was on a mission. That night, I tossed and turned for hours with my mind consumed by that truck.I jumped into my bedroom shoes, wrapped that old dog-eared bathrobe around my shoulders and headed outside to the paper box.Bless Pete, my paper was gone again.Now was the time for some drastic action. The weather was cooperating with me. The following morning was bathed in a good steady downpour.On stormy days, both of my home-delivered papers arrived in protective sleeves (newspaper talk for a plastic bag).My plan (which bordered on the ingeniousness of a dog race some years earlier) was coming together.The old saying, “the early fellow usually gets even with the morning paper swiper,” was about to get shoe leather put to it. I mixed up a witches brew that smelled to high heaven. Gagging, I poured it over an old paper wrapped in a plastic grocery bag.Concealed in darkness, I placed this special edition in the paper box.Standing out of view under an old umbrella in a puddle of water, I awaited my expected visitor.Sure as shooting, that good old boy wheeled up to my paper box with his window down, yanked the stinky paper from the box and drove off with water swirling from his tires.I hurried to the roadway to watch, but I was disappointed by the outcome. I was hoping to see him fling that special package out of his truck window, but there was no such luck.I imagine when the paper swiper got to his work site, he had accumulated a special air about him.One thing for sure, it broke him from taking my morning paper.Of course, my newspaper carriers didn’t realize what had been going on because they had been doing their job the whole time.But just the other morning, my morning daily paper was missing and my thoughts raced back to the time I fixed the paper thief.I reacted just like most subscribers, ready to fuss at the carrier.I saw him wheel up to my paper box, and walked down to the street to meet him. Our conversation was brief.“Sorry to be running late but I had car trouble,” he said.Then, like most disgusted customers, I replied, “No problem, hope everything is OK.”You know, newspaper carriers just can’t win.I’ll prove it to you.Last month, I was doing a little “fill-in” work in the newsroom at The Lancaster News. They don’t mind me hanging out there every once and a while, and even pay me to pitch in when they’re short handed. Part of filling in is answering the phone, which I did.As I held the phone receiver about two feet away from my ear, the lady on the other end proceeded to give me not just a piece of her mind, but just about all of it.Why? Because the Friday edition of the paper wasn’t on her front step.Seeing how she just lived a couple of blocks away, I decided to take her a paper.As soon as I knocked at the door, this dear lady raked me over the coals for bothering her so early in the morning.Newspaper carriers have to be a special breed to put up with that kind of stuff.You know, I might not like some of the stories and may or may not agree with an editorial. I often wonder where the letter writers come from, too.But there is one thing for sure; a hometown newspaper will give you all the facts, when network and cable TV news only whets your appetite.Sometimes we don't like the facts, especially it’s going to have an adverse effect on our lives and pocket books. They also tell us when the county fair is coming.I must admit I’m past the “girlie show” age. To tell the truth, I never could get the hang of pitching pennies or trying my luck at knocking over those wooden milk bottles to win a stuffed animal.But at least I know where I could go to try it, if I chose to do so.Beside, everybody knows that it rains when the fair sets up down at the American Legion Fairgrounds. I learned that from Cloudy McClain.OK, enough of that. It’s time for another cup of coffee while I glance over my morning newspaper and enjoy one of life’s remaining simple pleasures.It’s National Country Ham Month? You’ve got to be kidding. I had no idea.Just where does Greg Summers find these recipes?