“There’s got to be an easier way to make money.” Imagine the daily mantra, every morning around 3:30 as carriers roll out from their central distribution facility en route to sleepy neighborhoods. Just like the mail, the paper is delivered through every type of weather though there is a major difference. It’s quite a bit colder and much more dangerous in the dead of night than it is during the daytime. No doubt this would fuel the soul-searching. “Isn’t there something else I could do?”
The reality? For many carriers, there isn’t much else. A lot of these folks don’t speak English. They’re immigrants, many of them recent immigrants, who’ve saved up just enough slaving away at an equally inconvenient daylight job to buy an old car which they’ve promptly placed into service as a second source of income. But why newspapers? Because many of these guys are in the U.S. for one reason only. America is a great place to make money, and there are far fewer legal ways to do so in the pre-dawn hours than there are in the light. A lot of these people work in construction, which just cannot be done at 5am. “Make Money While You Sleep!” Try “Make Money Instead of Sleeping!”
Some carriers are more entrepreneurial than others and turbocharge the arrangement by subcontracting. Here’s how that works: One fellow waits around for the trucks to show up with all the papers. Sometimes the trucks are late, which is a headache all its own but once they arrive, he grabs his bundles of breaking headlines, places the ad inserts then parcels the whole lot into pieces. The next step is to drag the mess back to his apartment where it’s distributed among his family members or friends to deliver. Some industrious carriers cover thousands of households per day this way. As they’re paid by the delivery and not by the hour, the subcontractor model serves pretty well.
The career of a paper carrier isn’t very long. Many last merely a season. Some last six months. Few last a year or more. But those who do finish with enough extra cash to send kids to school, buy a house, maybe start a business. And they can count it on a beach back home.