Yesterday morning, I saw a young boy trudging between houses delivering the newspaper. I live on a “motor route” so haven’t seen a person actually dropping off papers in awhile.  

It brought back memories of my brother’s paper route — which really became the family’s paper route on many occasions.  We would help stuff and roll the stacks, or someone would drive him around to speed up delivery in the truly inclement weather, or we would help pull a wagon with his bundles.  Way back when, he even had to do the weekly bill collection and attempt to track down the families that evaded him.

Most of the job was not fun.

Yet he had to do it daily, long after the thrill was gone.  He learned persistence, discipline, the value of hard work, how to woo his sisters into cooperation, and customer service.  I think it taught him many things that he still uses in his professional work today.

As the pervasiveness of the newspaper fades, I know the carrier role is disappearing with it.   For many, it was a job they could hold at a very young age, where they could reap life lessons and spending money while still impressionable.

I wonder what tasks today’s youth will have that teach them skills similar to those learned on a paper route:  That all money isn’t an entitlement that is given to you as an allowance, rather must be earned.  That you have to go to work every day, like it or not.  That bad weather isn’t an excuse to stay under the covers.  That not everyone is nice, but most people are.  That having your own disposable income is a really good thing.  

The “newsies” who hawked papers on the corner are gone, and I fear the young door-to-door carrier isn’t far behind it.  Cherish this dying profession and seek ways to provide similar opportunities to young people in the future.

— beth triplett

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