Asking for the holiday tip

This is the time of the year when the newspaper carrier tries to tell you to give him/her a tip without actually asking for a tip. It’s all very Minnesotan, and I have some expertise in this field.

As I’ve written before, I delivered the Pioneer Press for 10 years and perfected the art of getting the Christmas-New Year’s tips. I was once told by the Pioneer Press circulation manager that I was “a legend.” Yes, of course.

The best way to get a tip if you deliver newspapers is to hit the top step, even when the homeowner couldn’t be bothered clearing the two feet of snow from the driveway or sidewalk.

Also, when you leave the Christmas card, put a letter in it, use your name and address, and say “thanks for shoveling the walkway,” which is Minnesotan for, “do you think you might get off your fat tush and make life a little easier for me? I’m only making 10 cents here!”

The holidays were a wonderful time. Every day between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I’d come home to a mailbox full of cash (note: don’t ever leave cookies or food for your newspaper carrier, they’re not out every morning at 2 a.m. for a sugar fix).

And so every Christmas I pay attention to the subtle ways my carrier asks for money.

Today, almost a week after Christmas, I got the card with no name signed, and an envelope with a convenient “return” address already stamped on an otherwise blank envelope, tucked inside the paper, which was tossed in the bushes.


Be looking for a plate of cookies on the top step, friend.

  • Jim Shapiro


    As a relative newcomer to this esteemed forum, I was heretofore unaware of your career as a literal as well as verbal and written deliverer of the news.

    A childhood and still dear friend of mine was the first of our young ( 3rd grade) group to get a job delivering the morning edition – up before dawn, trudging through the snow when necessary.

    His precocious industriousness eventually led to a somewhat more lucrative career, this one involving a different type of snow.

    Perhaps not surprisingly, the long arm of the DEA eventually severely curtailed my friend’s adult snow-related activities.

    Somewhat ironically, one of his first jobs outside of an institutional setting entailed again trudging through the snow to deliver the morning paper.

    I thought more ironic still was the fact that my friend had wintered in Maui for the better part of three decades, thanks to his Andean snow activities, thus avoiding our not always stimulating Minnesota kind of snow.

  • Jamie

    Welcome back, Jim Shapiro. Haven’t seen you here for a while.

  • THis is NOT lucy


    That was a touching story. I am crying.

    Oh the great circle of life…

  • This is NOT lucy


    I didn’t comment to your article Bob. I delivered an advertising circular that used to come once a week. Most people didn’t care for it, but one day I did get a compliment on the fact I could deliver before 6am which the daily paper boy could not.

    I recall the to-walk-on-the-lawn or not-walk-on- the-lawn to feel awkward. I was prior military (really), and we were told through training, “This is the General’s lawn, those are the General’s rocks, eccertera…You are showing disrespect if you walk across them.” Clearly, I realized that the General didn’t live in any of the houses I delivered the unwanted circular to but the inculcation involved in my military training out-weighed reality.

    About that paperboy of yours; I am sure he will deliver on target from here on in. After all, gettng a soggy newspaper is as welcomed as having your mail consisting of government information and bank statements half openned as I have for the last couple years.


    it is as welcomed as having the DMV make your driver’s license photo look like you are more of hispanic descent than that of being 4th generation european descent. I am not racist here, I am concerned that my State ID does not clarify my identity one bit and if you hold it up to my previous ID, I look like a completely different person. Sorry, I drifted slightly off topic here.

  • Jeb

    I’m pretty lucky for my newspaper guy back at college. Since the dorms are unlocked, the newspaper guy can come all the way up the stairs (to my third floor dorm room) and deliver the paper to my door. He does this dutifully every morning. It’s almost better than living in a hotel.

    He got a good tip this Christmas.