During one of my slow, pathetic runs this week I was alarmed to hear a car directly behind me. After years of running on the road — always facing traffic — I can tell what a car sounds like when it’s coming from the other direction behind me. And this? This sounded wrong.

I darted for the grass, and looking back saw a car driving on the wrong side of the road, dangerously close to where I now stood. A drunk? Someone who had fallen asleep at the wheel? No, just the guy delivering the Times Union.

To paraphrase an old joke, I should have worn my brown shorts.

This is not the first time I’ve seen this.

Early in the morning, Times Union carriers routinely drive on the wrong side of a busy state highway near my house. Stretches of the road have limited sight lines, so this doesn’t seem like a great idea.

But maybe it’s no big deal. I’m sure he’s paying extra close attention to what he’s doing and never fumbling around with his newspapers or anything. Clearly, these are highly experienced professionals who’ve had training in safely driving on the wrong side of the road. It’s possible that they even hold a special license that allows them to drive on the wrong side; I must check the DMV website for that.

Call me old-fashioned, but I miss the days when twelve-year-old kids would deliver your paper. It seems unlikely that you’d get run over by a kid on a bicycle.

When I venture out in the morning, I’m always wearing a reflective vest or sash, and if the sun’s not up yet, I have an annoyingly bright headlamp to alert drivers. I’ve jumped off the pavement once or twice over the years. The one thing I have little control over is cars coming from behind me, and what with all the distracted driving out there, maybe it’s time to be concerned.

So, I hope you don’t read about me getting run over by someone delivering newspapers. It would be a hell of a story, though.  Newspaper people do love irony.

5 thoughts on “Newsies

  1. The TU guy delivering in our neighborhood comes through on the wrong side of the road as well, though he’s easy to hear, because it would seem he has no mufflers at all, just a straight pipe out the manifold. I don’t mind much, because I’m awake anyway at 5:30 each day, though there is no late sleeping on the weekends. No point calling the TU, because delivery people are ‘contract employees’.

    When I was 7-9 I was a ‘contract employee’ delivering the Waterbury Republican in Middlebury CT. 16 papers, about $7 – 8 per week including tips. It was an afternoon paper, and some of my customers preferred their paper placed on their kitchen tables or living room coffee tables. It was a different time.

    1. Yeah, no use calling… and I wouldn’t really want the poor schlub fired.

      I never had my own route, but I filled in for friends sometimes. One time this guy, who looked like a Sopranos character, gave me a $10 tip. That was real money back then!

  2. I had the highly desirable east side Mitchel Field route, though I lived on the west side of Mitchel Field. That meant I had to ride my bike, fully loaded, for quite some time before beginning to lighten my load . . . which sucked especially hard on Sunday. But as you note, good money for a junior high school kid. Me and friend Jim (who had the west side of Mitchel Field route, even though he lived on the east side)(don’t ask) used to go to the Mitchel Field Mini Mart and buy a whole six pack of Dr. Pepper, so flush with cash were we. Those were the days.

  3. I should note that was the NEWSDAY route . . . not some other fancy city rag like the Times or what have you . . .

  4. My Sunday NY Times route in ‘The Pines’ in Hauppauge, Sophomore year of HS was back-breaking, but very good money for 3 hours work. 150 papers, $95-100 including tips. Thankfully, no one there wanted the paper fanned-out on their kitchen table.

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