The Life of a Paper Carrier

Being a newspaper carrier has been a pretty eye-opening experience. I’d never thought much about the people who delivered the newspapers before – back when my mom took the newspaper the carriers were generally middle school and high school kids looking to earn a couple of bucks. There were a few adults who ran routes – usually they were “state routes1.” For the most part, you never saw the adult carriers at all. Our paper carriers were always the kids of people we knew.

Now it is completely different. You have to be an adult, you must have a valid driver’s license, you  must have a reliable vehicle, and you must be able to prove that your vehicle is insured.  You also have to be willing to work in any weather conditions, work on a deadline, and be willing to put up with a lot of crap in the meantime. Sometimes the papers come out late, but you’re still required to meet your deadline – unless specified when you pick up the papers. On Thanksgiving, I have to give every customer a newspaper, even if they don’t normally get one on Thursday and even if they are a business that isn’t open on Thanksgiving. I get exactly two days per year off – Christmas and New Year’s Day2.

I am out there in oppressive heat & humidity, down pouring rain, severe thunderstorms, blizzards, ice storms, freezing cold, sleet, you name it I have to deliver in it. I even have papers to deliver once a week in the blazing heat of a summer day. And being a paper carrier is expensive. Here is a list of things that I have to purchase for my paper routes that I do not receive any sort of reimbursement from the newspaper for:

  • Rubber bands – $2.50 for a bag, I go through a bag a week.
  • Polybags for rain/snow/wet conditions – $1.75 per strip, I need 3 strips for every 2 days it’s wet out.
  • Gas – I have to fill up about every 4-5 days.
  • Vehicle maintenance – Oil changes come far less than 3 months apart now – I put 20 miles a night on the car.
  • Vehicle insurance that I am required to maintain at all times – This I have to have legally anyway, but I lose my route if they find out it lapsed, where I have to get caught by the police without insurance before it would affect me legally.

Take a guess at what I get for this? Go on, take a guess. I’ll wait here. Ok, I get $3.50 per customer per month maximum. That’s it.  On Thanksgiving I delivered a total of 120 newspapers. Of those, 2 only take the paper 3 days a week and 6 only take the paper on Sunday3. So for the ones who only take the Sunday paper or take the paper 3 days a week, I don’t even get $3.50 for the month.

I make less than $400 per month from the customers I have between two routes. I’ve had my paycheck come in as low as $180 because of having to buy rubber bands and polybags. At least half of every paycheck goes right back into the gas tank. And let’s not forget that because the newspaper considers me to be self-employed, they don’t take any taxes out of my paychecks. That’s right – when it comes to the end of the year, I have to pay the IRS for every dime I’ve made as a paper carrier.

Of course, they say that at the end of the year, I’ll get a 1099 form, plus I’ll get an itemized list of everything I’ve purchased from them to do my route so I can take the amounts off my taxes. I can take the miles I’ve put on the car off my taxes, but I can’t take the price of the gas I put in the car off my taxes. But that’s an IRS thing and not the newspaper’s fault.

The life of a paper carrier is interesting to say the least – but it does have it’s perks. For a night owl like myself, the time of day is perfect. I rarely have to deal with other people4. And come Christmas time, many of my customers are fairly generous when it comes to Christmas gifts/tips5. Not that the Christmas tips/gifts are required, but they are nice because they show that my customers do notice me. One customer even mentioned they appreciated my doing my job because in winter, it’s rather difficult between snow, ice, and freezing cold temperatures!

I like my paper routes. I get really irritated with the paper itself when they make me have to rush to get my job done because the papers are late and I hate doing carrier collects6, but I like my routes. After all, it’s at least a little bit of money in my pocket and it’s a job I can do without having to talk to anyone.

  1. Out of town/rural area routes.
  2. For our newspaper at least – it doesn’t publish a paper on Christmas or New Year’s Day. Some papers do, so some carriers don’t get those days off.
  3. Remember, every customer gets a paper on Thanksgiving, regardless of what days they normally receive a paper
  4. I’m anti-social at best, downright psychotic when having to deal with other humans at worst.
  5. Strangely enough, it’s mostly the bigger route that has gifted/tipped me. I’ve received only 2 from the mobile home court route.
  6. Where I have to go collect a check for the customer’s monthly subscription fee.

I Need Some Sleep

I’ve been so frustrated the past few days and I think part of the problem is that I need sleep. The past few days I have been up far earlier than I normally would be. I’ve been having to get up early for various things – a job interview, to do things around the house, etc.

It seems the less sleep I get, the more frustrated I get. Especially when I get up early, go to a job interview, am told that it will be a couple of days before I would hear anything, then get an email time-stamped for less than an hour after my interview ended saying that I would not be getting the job. :P

Oh well, there are more jobs to apply for I suppose. I got the job hunting paper this afternoon so I guess I’ll have to get back in there, check out what is available and then put in more applications. I am getting sick of the application process though. :P

Maybe I Can Have A Job?

Well, I recently applied for the umpteenth time at the McDonald’s down the street from me. I’ve put in several applications at this location, but have never been called back – until Thursday that is. I actually got a call for what turned into my 5th interview in 2 years.

What a lot of people may not realize is that we frequent that McDonald’s a lot. To the point that they generally know what we want to eat when we come in, and usually don’t even have to wait for us to decide. We always get the same things. :) We’re talking people who will put in fresh cookies for us even if the cookie case is full. LOL

So tonight the one gal asked me when I’m supposed to hear back from the main manager on my job. I told her early this week. I’m hoping I hear soon, but I am not going to say that I’m getting the job for certain because I may not be hired. I would love to be hired but if I am not, I will just keep looking for another job. :P

I Know It’ll Take Time But…

How much time already?? LOL My shop opened up back in December of 2008 and I haven’t sold anything. Well, according to Etsy. :) My friend Amy bought some custom bracelets from me last year. So I *have* sold something. But on Etsy itself? Nope. Not yet anyways. I’m hopeful though. I did get some pretty good new shots up, and the pictures I took of my new jewelry are pretty great (in my opinion at least). So hopefully soon I’ll get something. I know I won’t get enough to start looking at Outer Banks vacation rentals or anything like that, but a little extra money coming in would be a great thing to have right about now. LOL

Speaking of money coming in, I put in another application today. This time for a housekeeping spot at a local Hampton Inn & Suites. I’ve done housekeeping before, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to catch on. ;) And besides, this time around that was pretty much the only job listing that was worth anything. Most of the others either stated you had to have your own vehicle (I don’t). So that let me out of those, or construction jobs (um, no.)

So I’m just waiting now for the next job paper to come out (the actual newspaper here for some reason isn’t much better for jobs, and they direct you to HotJobs all the time, which only seems to have jobs requiring resumes to be mailed in). I’m hoping ot find something soon because I’m tired of not having any money. LOL

Picture Taking

Well, yesterday I spent a good portion of the afternoon setting up a mini-photography studio. I used white tissue paper that I taped to the wall behind the desk, then laid down white tissue paper on the desk to make a flowing backdrop for the velvet jewelry stands I bought the other day at Michaels. The tissue paper makes a neat background because I can get a package of 40 sheets for $1 at Dollar Tree and so the backdrop is disposable in the event it tears when being taken down (which the wall portion did, the desk portion did not, heh). I can also get the tissue paper in colors and prints for variety so it’s not a bad thing. :)

The only problem I’m finding is that I am completely incapable of holding the camera steady it seems. The desk is low enough that I have to bend over to take the pictures – and because I have to bend over, my arms are not held at my sides like the instructions say I am supposed to. So now I’ve turned on the Steady Shot feature on my camera and we’ll see if this makes any difference. I have a lot of jewelry to see if I can take some better/decent pictures with so I want to do some of that later this afternoon if at all possible.

The other thing I’m working on this afternoon is, well, work. I have some assignments to do, plus I have some other things to do that I want to get done before I forget. Then tomorrow is going to be all about putting in the 5 job applications (less if I’m told positions have been filled) that I circled in the job paper. A couple of the places have been looking for just a few days, others have been looking for a couple of weeks, so I’m hoping that one of them will be fruitful. At this point, I’d take even a part time job!

I appreciate that we’re in a “recovery” as far as the economy goes, but I wish the job market would pick back up! :(