I was out for a jog one morning and noticed a blue pick-up circling the neighborhood. It crawled slowly up to the front of a house. A man in a blue shirt exited the truck with a wrapped, folded newspaper, and tossed it gently on the top step.
I immediately flashed back to my childhood when my best friend and I had a competition to see who could have the most paper routes. We knew who had the routes with the most customers, because more customers meant more tips on Saturday collection day.
I remember at one point having multiple routes before I finally landed the best route in the neighborhood. At the time that route belonged to an older girl named Chrissy. As she neared retirement age, which back then was about 15, I convinced her to let me take over the route.
About a month after I saw the man in the blue pickup, I was out for a jog in a different neighborhood. This time I saw a woman in a Subaru delivering newspapers. It had snowed the night before, and the driveway wasn’t shoveled yet, so the woman put the newspaper in the curbside mailbox.
This neighborhood that I was running through was a regular part of my run, with a nice lollipop loop. As I made my way into the loop, I passed a yet another house where a man was shoveling the snow off a long driveway. As I made my way around the loop and back out of the driveway, I passed the same man with the same shovel, but in a different driveway.
Again, I flashed back to the days of walking door-to-door, offering to shovel sidewalks and driveways. Five bucks for a sidewalk, ten for a driveway. If it was one of the really big driveways, then it was twenty. Plus tips, which were great during bigger storms.
So why are adults taking all the fun kid jobs?
Here are five reasons why we no longer see our neighborhood teenagers loading up their trusty paper bag full of folded news papers.
1. Delivery Times – Newspapers were usually delivered in the afternoon on weekdays which coincided with after school hours. I can still remember sitting in front of the TV with a sandwich watching Saved By The Bell reruns, as I waited for the newspaper van to drop off my bundles. As readership declined, afternoon deliveries shifted to early mornings making it difficult for kids to keep their routes and still make it to school.
2. Online Readership – While there are still home deliveries, online readership has mostly taken the place of the printed newspaper.