Tossing newspapers isn’t for everybody

I’m a sucker for stories about newspaper carriers, a dying breed that operates in darkness but still has a bigger impact on the day’s news agenda than any journalist.

You rarely read stories about them, for the reasons I’ve noted before: a newspaper would never let its readers know about the scandalous conditions under which its carriers work.

The great Jim Stingl, of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, wades into the reality of carrier life, however, with a nod to Susan Speerbrecher, who’s had to give up her route of 200 customers because she just couldn’t adjust to getting up at 2 a.m.

And the four accidents in her car, ending a 17-year accident-free run.

In December, she slammed her Toyota FJ Cruiser into the garage door of one of her customers after accidentally leaving the shifter in drive. That customer came outside and they talked about how Susan’s insurance would buy her a new door.

In January, she accidentally put her vehicle in reverse in a car wash and hit the car behind her. That one didn’t even make the note to her customers, but did lead to another insurance claim.

In February, she hit a pole at a gas station. She offered to come back and repaint it, but the manager said that wasn’t necessary. And in April she backed out of a driveway on her route into a car parked on the street.

“I didn’t even see this car. A friend of mine said, ‘What, were you asleep?'” Susan said. The answer is probably that she was half asleep. Again, she called her insurance agent.

Anyway, that was enough of that. Her last day was May 8. It’s too bad. Susan liked the job and took pride in getting newspapers to people, dry and near their doors, every single day. As a former Journal carrier as a boy, I can appreciate that. I also like knowing that the stuff my colleagues and I write finds its readers.

Here’s a little glimpse of the life from the Courier Post in New Jersey.