Farewell O.C. Register newspaper carrier

Newspaper Delivery Boy

A few months ago The Register announced that it would no longer have employees doing newspaper home delivery but instead would contract with the Los Angeles Times to do it. While consolidation of like functions into a single operation is probably a sound business decision given the death spiral the printed media seems to be in, it marks another sad chapter in the change to American culture.

Seems like it was not too long ago that neighborhood kids delivered the paper, using bicycles or even walking on foot. That job helped instill a work ethic and sense of pride in many an adolescent in years gone by. That person collected the monthly subscription fee in person, and they became a part of the community fabric. Subscribers would often remember them at December holiday time with gifts of cookies, other baked goods, cash and a big personally delivered thank you.

Then the pursuit of “efficiencies” led to the demise of the so called paperboy (there were a few papergirls too!) to be replaced by employees, directly hired or under contract, to make those deliveries. Those people used cars, handled much larger routes and got the job done, but they were pretty much faceless except during the Holidays when a customer would find a Seasons Greeting card tucked in a newspaper coupled with the carrier’s name and address. Undoubtedly that produced some monetary gifts of appreciation mailed o the carrier. Subscription fees now arrived in the form of a bill in the mail, and subscribers mailed a check to a faceless media bureaucrat at some P.O. Box rather than handing it to the paperboy at the door. 

Today with the morning paper came an envelope with the carrier’s name and address on it. In that envelope was a note that read:

Dear Customer: I am sad to inform you that as of October 18, 2009 I will no longer distribute the newspaper for you. The OC Register notified us that due to the current economy they were forced to lay off all of their personnel, which included me. For many years this employment provided economical support to me and my family. I would like to take this opportunity to say good bye and thank you for your kindness. You are appreciated.”

We will still be getting our morning paper. But, a certain number of hard working people who delivered The Register will now be unemployed. The strain on them and their families is inevitable. As for the newspaper subscriber, it seems life in the neighborhood has moved further up the scale of impersonal service delivered by faceless people. I miss the paperboy and all the personal interaction that came with those kids. I’ll send our terminated carrier a check of appreciation, but I will do so while being in a funk about “progress” like this.

About Over But Not Out

A retired Orange County employee, and moderate Republican. The editor seriously does not know OBNO's identity as did not the former editor, but his point of view is obviously interesting and valued.