Sunday, January 8, 2012

Applied Newspaper Delivery Psychology

In my lot of papers to be delivered, I am given 4-5 extra papers every day, which are for if a paper gets damaged, ripped, wet, etc. If we end up with extra (or damaged or whatever) papers, we are free to do with those as we please. Usually, this simply means putting some in the recycling bin at the main newspaper office every day.

Throughout the area I have been delivering newspapers in, there has been construction work going on for, well, ever since I started delivering papers about a month ago. This construction work usually consists of nothing more than a narrowing of a two-lane road to one lane, which in the very rural area I deliver to, almost never causes any kind of slowdowns.

Linking the above two paragraphs together: every once in a while, when I'm out delivering and I go by the construction zone, I will give a paper to one of the sign holder workers. I do this for a few reasons: 
(1) it must suck to stand out in the freezing weather holding a sign all day, (2) it means less garbage for me to take out of my car, and (3) it feels like a nice thing to do, and they are always very happy to get a paper.
Now, I've always had a few rules for myself when it comes to this:
(1) Even though there are 4-5 workers on the site every day, only ONE worker gets a paper. This is because (a) they can share a paper, and (b) if only one worker gets one, it makes them feel special, lucky, fortunate, etc. Reason: if everybody gets a free paper, it cheapens it and they will be less grateful for the free paper.
(2) The papers are NOT handed out every day, or on a regular schedule. Maybe 1-2 times a week do I give out a free paper, on random days. Reason: I do not want to foster an expectation of a free paper. If it is expected, it is less rewarding.
(3) I try to rotate the worker that I actually give the paper to. Reason: I don't want to seem like I'm favoring any one in particular, and I want to gain favor with all the different workers.

Last week, all my currying of favor paid off. The construction zone was occupying both lanes of the road. Two cars were waiting in line while the sign holder had his "Slow/Stop" sign facing the "Stop" side. Then I pulled into the line. The worker, seeing me, quickly went over one of the construction trucks blocking one of the lanes, and told him to move. The truck did, and the cars, including myself, moved on.  On my way by, the sign holder smiled at me and gave a friendly nod.

I have NEVER in the past seen a worker actually go to another construction worker to ask him to move out of the way for cars. Usually, it's more of a "You can wait indefinitely for all I care" attitude.

Whether it actually was or not, I chalk this up to an act of reciprocation of kindness towards me for the simple, small act of giving out free newspapers to cold, bored people.

1 comment:

NoJGenny said...

It's not "currying of favor." You're just a nice guy.