During this summer drought I've been watering my garden early in the morning. Sometimes I'm out there when the paper lady shows up. Her husband cruises slowly down our street and hands her papers from the car window which she throws on our driveways. Used to be all the neighbors got a paper. The stops now are both few and far between. She complains about the cost of the plastic bags, which the Tribune must require because why would you bother putting the paper in a plastic bag these last couple of hot dry weeks? If the carriers have any discretion over the bags they use my carrier has to be buying the absolute thinnest and cheapest. They used to be blue. Now they're flimsy see through. They tear immediately when they hit the concrete on the drive, leaving small holes. I discovered this because I used to use the Trib bags to clean up after my dog. I'm using other bags now after learning the hard way. I feel like the whole newspaper thing is deteriorating. What can you do?
I don't know how much longer the Chicago Tribune, or our local Ottawa paper, will continue to be delivered at my house. The local paper has apparently run out of kids to take the route and the adults that deliver the Trib are delivering it as well. The local paper used to be an afternoon paper but now that it's being printed out of town and trucked in each morning with yesterday’s news they've stopped pretending and deliver it in the morning. You can get both papers online. I'm afraid both driveway delivery deals are going to run out. I’m already starting to mourn the loss of that good feeling I get of holding the paper in my hand, turning the pages, and when I’m done reading the sports section folding it into a tablet size pad and working the crossword with a yellow pencil. The coffee is ready by then. It’s quiet. I love those mornings.
I dread the day that home delivery is discontinued. But given the cost of paper, printing and delivery compared to hitting “send” on a computer how can they afford to do otherwise? As old people like me, who are hooked on real paper, dwindle away it will surely happen. Its economics I guess. When the customers and the money start to run out some things change and some just go away. I can feel it coming, can’t you?