I am no longer blogging here at Little Nuances, but I would love for you to join me on my author website www.leewarren.info.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Paperboys Are Fading into a Bygone Era

A boy on a bicycle with a Toronto Star
newspaper carrier bag. Whitby, Ontario.
February 6, 1940 (Photo: Public Domain)
Ding dong.

“Mom, it’s the paperboy – he’s here to collect.”

“You know where the envelope is, go ahead and give him the money.”

My sister or I would open the door, hand him the money we owed along with the punch card. He would punch our card and then his (remember how paperboys used to have their punch cards bound at the top with three rings?). As he handed it back, he would say, “See ya next week.”

I can’t say I ever took the time to get to know our paperboys very well, but everybody in our neighborhood seemed to know their names. And I remember my mom giving the current paperboy a Christmas bonus every year, which couldn’t have been easy for her to pull off given that she was a single mom with two kids.

Paperboys were an established part of neighborhood life. That’s why I was bummed to read this at Time.com: “With physical newspapers making their way to an ever shrinking number of customers, paperboys (and girls) have become an endangered species. In 2008 they made up just 13% of newspaper deliverers, down from nearly 70% in 1990.”

The article lists several reasons for the demise of the paperboy. Newspapers have shifted to large distribution centers so carriers had to deliver bigger bundles to large areas, which led to adults with cars applying for and receiving the positions, causing the term “paperboy” to become obsolete in favor of “independent delivery contractor.” Could there be a more sterile title? The article also cites stranger danger as a reason kids no longer deliver the paper on foot.

We live in an ever-changing world and all of the clichés apply, including the only thing constant in life is change. I get that. But losing interaction with other humans, even when it is just routine business-like interaction, isn’t a good thing. We just need to keep looking for new ways to connect. I once had a pastor who encouraged us to stop using our debit cards at the gas pump so we could go inside and interact with the clerk. I don’t do that often enough. Do you?


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