Newspaper Carrier: I Work Hard To Deliver Your Grandma's Paper, And I Exist

For our younger readers who aren’t familiar, a newspaper is sort of like Google News, but all printed on a piece of paper, and it doesn’t update automatically. Newspapers don’t automatically appear on your doorstep, though. It might seem like magic, but there’s a real person who bundles up those papers and drives around in all kinds of weather to get them on your doorstep before you wake up. Reader Auron, a newspaper carrier, responded to our call for readers to tell us what they wish the general public knew about their jobs.

One job a lot of readers probably know very little to nothing about is newspaper delivery. I have been doing that for just about a year now, and it’s not as easy as some people may think. For starters, the hours vs pay really sucks. We are independent contractors, not employees of the paper. Which means it works like this: We “buy” the paper at a heavily discounted rate then “sell” the paper at a higher rate to each of our customers. The difference between those prices is our profit.

We are also responsible for paying for any supplies we use, bags, rubber bands, gas for our vehicle, etc. In the case of the paper I deliver for, we get our papers usually between 1 – 1:30 am. If there are any problems at the plant when they are printing the papers, that makes the papers get there later than normal, and sets us back as well. And if our papers are delivered late, some people will complain about that, and we can typically get those complaints removed since it was something that wasn’t our fault.

We have to assemble and bag them, then load them into our vehicles, a process that takes me anywhere from 30 min to around 2 hours. We then deliver to each customer, we are responsible for maintaining and keeping our delivery lists up to date – new starts, vacation holds/stops, actual stops, etc. Our deadline for getting papers delivered is 6 am M-F and 7 am Sat & Sun. Any complaints are docked from our bi-weekly paycheck, $3 for each complaint Mon – Sat and $5 for each complaint on Sunday. We don’t get any days off, if we miss a day for some reason, not only do we lose out on what we would have earned for that night, but we also have to pay someone else (typically $20 – $30 per route depending on how many papers) for each route that needs to be substituted.

It also doesn’t matter what the weather is like, we are required to deliver in any weather. I am in a northern state, so snow is prevalent in the winter. A lot of people don’t tip us at all, but some tip very well.

Yes, we are for the most part invisible, but we strive every day to make sure your paper is delivered on time, intact, and where you want it. I think one of the reasons we don’t get very many tips is that unlike say food delivery or a service such as salon/hairdresser/barber etc, we are, as I said earlier, mostly invisible to our customers.

Most of the people I work with are using the paper delivery as additional income. I am one of the few that rely solely on this for my entire income currently. I have 3 routes that are my own, and depending on the day, I might sub 1 or 2 routes. I typically deliver anywhere between 150 and 500 papers on a daily basis. I profit approx $1500/mo between my 3 routes, and will try to sub at least 3 routes every week.

We know that a lot of you have particular insights into jobs and businesses that most consumers don’t know much about — or about which they make huge assumptions. So if you feel like sharing your thoughts on what it’s like to work retail, or food service, or in the shipping, banking, hospitality fields (or something we failed to mention here), feel free to share your views at