Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Extreme Rural Newspaper Delivery Driving (Part 1?)

So back in December I got a job at the local newspaper delivering newspapers throughout the upper Kittitas County area. Mostly in Cle Elum and the surrounding areas, but as far North as Easton, WA.

I've also been here,
although this is the first
time I've noticed how much
this sign resembles a
certain male appendage.
I've been here minus the moose.
In case you aren't familiar with where Cle Elum is, I'll provide a point of reference: it's about 2 miles from Roslyn, Washington, where the TV show Northern Exposure was filmed. In case you're unfamiliar with Northern Exposure, it's a TV show about living in a small town in Alaska. This should provide a hint as to the typical weather conditions in this lovely part of the country. This can (and sometimes does) make for some interesting driving on bad weather days, especially driving around in a 1981 Ford Escort. This has made me into a super-pro winter-weather driver, which I will discuss in more detail in a
                                                           future blog entry.

Over the next few days (weeks? months?) I will summarize a few of the more interesting aspects of this paper delivery route.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

My Relationship with 7-11 and How It's Destroying My Life

Oh, 7-11.

We have a love affair that can't be put into words.

Going to get a Slurpee in the summer growing up was a rare, rare treat. Your services in providing caffeine in so many different vessels through so many different liquids throughout my college years and the trips back and forth across campus both alone and with friends are memories and debts that I can never put a value on beyond 'priceless.'

But after graduating and moving on to the "adult" and "real" world, I thought our young, impetuous fling of fun and convenience had run its course. But, every time I went to Seattle to visit friends, go out for beers, go to Mariners and Sounders games, and stayed out past two or had a long drive or long ferry ride home or needed to sober up for an hour or two, you were always there. In fact, you still are. There are at least 8 of you, always open, never judging me all within a 10-mile radius of Seattle. And so it continues.s campus at all times of day and night with friends was and is an indelible debt and memory for which I will always be eternally grateful.

But again, such a relationship doesn't run deep; I use you and you use me. You're on that side of the water; I'm on this side of the water. Our rendezvous in Seattle are random and they don't last long. There's no commitment and no guilt; we have an understanding.

But then you...you...you bitch! You had to go and open TWO new locations within two miles of my home and work. You used our past that I thought was special but with no strings attached and you used what you know about me against me! You know I'm a procrastinator. You know that I stay up late and get up early. You know that I don't like making coffee in the morning despite it's simplicity and financial savings. You know I never grocery shop more than 1-2 days in advance so I hardly ever have breakfast or lunch ready for the day. You took our special connection and you have made me into your despondent whore. I may have been your whore before, but it was cheap and inconsequential, or so I thought. And now it's...come to this.

It's 3am, again, and I'm getting up 4 hours early to go in to work to finish some things, but I need coffee and caffeine and food for later in the day. No espresso stands are open this early. The 24-hour Safeway is no longer open 24 hours but now opens at 6am.

As a way of hating myself even more and publicly revealing how you've ruined my life and as a way of avoiding going to work yet and having to see you one minute sooner than I have to, below are my...my sins.

1 Month Tally:

Sadly, these are all separate trips, and this only reflects debit card records from a single month; there were at least several occasions where I used cash.

The evidence is damning - I'm left with no defense.

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.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What I asked for for Christmas

For Christmas, my one big wish was for Gene Wilder to make a new movie. It didn't happen.