Usually my job ends when the final page is sent to the printer at 10:15 each morning.
I recently put down my pen and paper and spent two days delivering papers both on foot and by car.
The Daily Chief-Union delivers papers to more than 4,100 subscribers each day. There are five motor route drivers who deliver newspapers to businesses, stores and homes in their cars.
Before the papers are delivered, they have to be counted and each one is stuffed by hand with inserts.
“The hardest part is inserting and just getting all the papers together,” said DC-U motor route driver Casey Nelson, who has been delivering papers for almost two years.
Nelson and I compiled 289 papers before heading out to make deliveries on a rainy day, which meant each paper had to be placed inside a plastic bag.
“If it’s snowing, raining or sleeting, we have to put the papers in bags,” Nelson said.
Nelson, who lives in Forest, travels 91 miles a day, delivering papers in Upper Sandusky, Harpster and Nevada, with several stops along the way. I recently tagged along, helping Nelson deliver nearly 300 papers.
“I love my job,” Nelson said. “Once I get in my car, I don’t have a boss. I don’t have to answer to anyone.”
It takes Nelson between three and 3 1/2 hours to complete the route. I was surprised that she did not need to look at a list. She remembers which houses to go to and where the customer likes their papers placed. At most homes, there is a box at the side of the road and the driver can just pull up and put the paper in. But there are a few exceptions.
“One of my customers, she’s about 92 years old,” Nelson said. “She asked me to put it in her screened-in porch during the winter time, but I just keep doing it because I don’t want her falling and hurting herself.”
The lady was waiting to greet Nelson with a smile as she got out of the car to hand her a newspaper.
Nelson said not all the customers are as nice.
“They will call the office if I miss someone,” Nelson said. “It’s never on purpose, but someone called a couple weeks ago when it was windy and the paper had blown out of her paper box. I had to drive back 12 miles and pick the paper up. It was in her front yard.”
Nelson also delivers bundles of papers to stores, where they are sold. When delivering the papers for the day, she picks up the previous day’s papers.
“When I get the papers back from the stores, I have to write down on a sheet how many papers I get back so (the DC-U office) can keep a count of how many papers are sold each day,” Nelson said.
The customers pay for their papers at the store and the store receives a bill for the papers each month.
Thirty-one DC-U carriers go door-to-door delivering papers to homes on foot each day. Substitute carrier Marilyn Plott, who has been delivering papers at the DC-U for 10Â years, accompanied me as I walked to deliver papers to nearly 50 homes on the north end of Upper Sandusky.
“I got started by helping my grandson deliver his papers and I just stuck with it,” said Plott, a lifelong Upper Sandusky resident. “It gets me out of the house to do a little bit of walking and in the summer, I get to talk to a lot of people that I normally don’t see.”
Over the years, Plott said she has done every route. Like Nelson, Plott also did not need a list to remember which houses to deliver to and where on the property to put the paper.
“I don’t remember the address; I remember the people,” Plott said. “I’ve lived here all my life and I just know who lives where.”
While the weather was nice that day, Plott said winter is the toughest time of the year for delivery.
“The year before last, there was snow piled up high and we had to climb through it to deliver the papers,” Plott said. “There’s ice on a lot of porches and you have to be careful. I did fall down a few times.”
Subscribers can help the carriers by keeping their walkways shoveled and putting down salt to melt the ice to make it easier to walk to and from the houses to deliver the papers.
Nelson said subscribers also can help motor route drivers by being patient when the weather is bad.
“Winter is harder because it takes us a lot longer,” Nelson said. “We’ve got snow and ice to deal with. There’s ice on the roads and we have to drive slower. A lot of the times the back roads, they don’t plow them so we have to take our time, but sometimes people get angry when they get their papers late.”
In talking with the carriers and drivers, I learned that patience can go a long way to help make their jobs a lot easier no matter what time of year it is. The papers are supposed to be delivered by 5 p.m. each day, but on some occasions, that is impossible.
“One day, I had the paper there by 4:55 and the lady was calling the office (to complain),” said 10-year-old carrier Josef Gallegos, who delivers papers after school each day.
Joseph’s 13-year-old sister Mercedez also delivers papers. Both deliver two routes each day with help from their mother and grandmother.
“People need to understand that some of the kids have a couple of routes and they have to go to school first,” mom Lisa Gallegos said.
Nearly two months ago, a mistake at the printer caused the papers to have to be reprinted. They did not arrive at the DC-U office until 3 p.m., making a lot of customers angry.
“We got all the papers delivered, but there was just no way we could have them there by 5 o’clock,” motor route driver Nora Connolly said.
Both the motor and foot carrier routes have their own unique challenges. The hardest part was the walking, but Plott drove to different neighborhoods, parking in a central location before walking door-to-door with me to make deliveries.
I enjoyed talking to the subscribers, some of which were surprised to see me walking up to their front door.
“Are you delivering papers now?” North Eight Street resident Ron Miller asked with a smile as I handed him his paper on his front porch.
Plott and I where delivering for regular carrier Ashley Leightey. Miller said he is pleased with the teenager’s service.
“She is really good,” Miller said of Leightey. “She does an excellent job.”
Subscribers seemed to really appreciate having the paper delivered to their homes.
“It’s really nice when you can just open up the front door and your paper is right there,” North Eighth Street resident Jane Clabaugh said.
Delivering papers was a unique experience. DC-U Distribution Manager Connie Sheets asked if I wanted my own route. I think I’ll stay behind the desk for now.
By CHANDA NEELY