In May Zack started delivering the West Seattle Herald to about 30 customers around our neighborhood on Wednesday afternoons. His first time doing the route by himself was in the pouring rain, pulling papers out of his backpack, checking addresses off his list, trying to keep everything dry – what a miserable way to start a job. Susan got a tearful call from our newly-minted carrier, and was able to help him get the papers delivered and figure out some easier ways to do it next time.
Zack settled right into the routine. His buddies helped him deliver papers. He struck up friendly conversations with neighbors. He acquired new customers, earned tips, and wrote thank you notes. He deposited checks in his new bank account and had his own money to spend on the school band trip to Idaho. Zack enjoyed a responsibility that belonged just to him.
Now big newspapers are fighting for survival. Our own well-loved Seattle Post-Intelligencer lost the fight a few months ago, leaving the city with one daily paper that has no soul. Smaller papers are feeling the squeeze, too. The West Seattle Herald is consolidating its operations and switching to distribution by mail, and this past Wednesday was the last time neighborhood carriers delivered the paper.
Like millions of boys, having a paper route was Zack’s first regular job. Like millions of Americans, he recently lost his job. He’s already had at least one of his customers ask if he’s available for other work, so it’s good that he can see how ‘referrals’ and ‘networking’ and ‘good customer service’ come into play. It just bugs me a little bit that he had his first taste of ‘unemployment’ at the age of 13.