Paperboy On My Resume

I got better delivery service when my newspaper was delivered by a teenager. And I gave better tips to the kid.

Today, our daily paper is delivered by an adult who drives a car, and likely has large overhead expenses. (S)he probably needs better tips to pay for the gas. And the profit margin for selling papers has slimmed over the years, I guess. Not sure why that would be, but it seems like it may be true, that is what we are told. I have even read that it would be cheaper for The New York Times to just send all of their subscribers a complimentary Kindle, and deliver all papers wirelessly. Maybe. News delivery is a weird business.

You got to know your paperboy.

Granted, even when I was a teen, The Times was the only newspaper delivered by adults in cars. It was the odd duck. But Daily News and Newsday were delivered by teens on bicycles, who generally provided great service at a great price. You got to know your paperboy. You gave tips every week for special favors (like running the paper around to the back door). Big tips around the holidays. This is the way a service business should be, but it seems like nowadays newspaper delivery is not a service business. News delivery is a weird business.

My wife and I lived and received newspaper delivery service in New York City for several years, during which time we felt no connection whatsoever to the delivery-person, who for several months did not bother to bring the paper to our door. We were told this was due to an operational mishap between The Times and our co-op management. Our paper would be tossed in the lobby, five floors below. Now we live in a suburb, where we feel a bit more of a connection to the person who leaves a double-wrapped blue-bagged copy of the paper at the end of our driveway each day. I retrieve it for my wife before walking to my train commute each morning, but I am thinking about buying slippers (so I could retrieve it earlier, during my bathrobe morning routine). Or buying a dog (who could retrieve it for us).

I still think it is strange that the paper is not brought to our mailbox (I think we pay more for the subscription than we do for USPS mail delivery, right? Or no?). Disclaimer: I also still think it is strange that subscription cable television shows advertisements, and that we pay admission for a movie which shows commercials before the main feature. Advertising is a weird business. 🙂

Perhaps one day the mailman will also start leaving our mail at the bottom of our driveway? For that, we may need a gaggle of puppies, and a poodle – they are smart and could surely sort the tossed mail effectively! Get ’em, Sparky!

When I was a teen, I myself delivered newspapers for a living (about $30 per week, which was pretty nice at the time; if you took on two paper routes you could earn twice that, easily). True, I was somewhere in the range of twelve to fifteen years old (with no access to a car), and I delivered Newsday, not The Times. I had a total of only 25 customers, but I provided far better service. We all did – all the paperboys. I have decided to put my experience as a paperboy on my resume, since it is relevant. I wonder if some of today’s young managers will know what the word means..

Gaining Tips

I often talk with friends about the value and meaning of tipping in America. Some accept it as routine – sort of a mandatory tax on service. Others feel like the temptation of a tip should be held in order to motivate good service. But consider the other side – not as the consumer, but as the service provider. Assume that you need to gain your tip. That’s not a bad thing, it doesn’t mean you are groveling. The receipt of a tip is feedback for your service. It can (should?) tell you how well you have done. Tips come in all forms, and there are all sorts of customers. Some tips are cash. Others are more abstract – a compliment or a return visit from a customer. On this blog, comments, ad click-throughs, and Google Analytics tracking results are my tips.

Assume that you need to gain your tip.

Customers come in different sorts. They may be “locked in”, as were the customers of my newspaper route, who had little choice of service provider. Or they may be completely free to move to another service provider at any time, as the readers of this blog are. Go, Sparky!

Either way, the idea of the tip is what motivates talented service providers. The lure of getting some revenue beyond what was agreed. When writing my resume, I want prospective employers to know that I am a person who values the chance to gain that extra little bit of customer loyalty, goodwill, or cash.

Endless Drive

Just as there are many ways to give or receive a tip, there are many types of employees and service providers, who are more or less suited for various types of jobs. Intensively service-driven jobs are best left to those who have endless drive – those who are not worn-out by the workplace, either because they are still young and bright-eyed, or because they have a customer service spirit deep within them that will not fade.

For many of us, the last chance we have to show that type of endless drive is during our teen years, when we have boundless energy, and hopefully have not yet lost our humility. When writing my resume, I want prospective employers to know that I still care about service. (Perhaps I even have a deep spirit?) I am a software developer who works at a large law firm. I do not have any traditional customers. All the same, I believe in service. Without it, our jobs become boring, and our customers (whether they are retail customers, co-workers, other team leaders, or the guy in Accounting who wishes everything would just “work right”) – well, they will go elsewhere, somehow. Trust me.

I am putting “paperboy” on my resume.