I left the house at 5 am today for my morning run. Today’s loop was about 4.5 miles through the neighborhoods around my house. It is just me and my I-pod full of Bon Jovi, Bruce, Billy Joel and Def Leppard, because it might be 2009 to you, but I’m still living in South Jersey circa 1984. I run this loop often and usually notice the newspapers lying on the driveways. Sometimes, if the paper carrier is running late, I’ll see them – driving on the wrong side of the road with their interior light on, their back seats full of papers. This morning, about 10 minutes into my run, I noticed a house with the kitchen light on and I saw a woman sitting at her kitchen table, reading the paper. During the rest of my run I noticed three other people doing the same thing. I also saw two people walking out to their driveway to pick up their paper. They were not all 80 years old, as the “death to newspaper” people want you to think. They were probably between 40 and 60. It gave me hope – I thought, 40 – 60 year olds have another 20 – 40 years of newspaper reading ahead of them. So maybe we aren’t in as bad of shape as we all think?
I’ve worked in the newspaper business for about 13 years now. I used to deliver newspapers, way back when. There isn’t much that I look back on fondly about those days, they were an exhausting battle, but there are a few things that I always enjoyed.
The world is a different place at 4 am – quite and peaceful. In the dark of night, there is something so calming. If you have never had the opportunity to deliver a paper route, you may not understand this. If you have had the opportunity you’ll know exactly what I mean.
Watching the sunrise is something we rarely get to do. I see it often, now, in the summer because I get up so early to run. Back then, I would see it rise just about every morning and it was always spectacular. The ones in Boulder Colorado were the best.
I also always loved to see people’s lights on at 4 am. There was one route I was doing about 4 years ago – it was in the West Hills – the exclusive part of Portland. From those streets I could see the city lights and there was always one house that had their lights on. The kitchen had a big window that overlooked the city and the sink was right at the window. The woman of the house was always at the sink. I figured she or her husband had a high power/high paying job that required early mornings. There was something comforting to me about seeing her there – like I wasn’t up all alone in the night. I don’t know if she ever noticed me driving down the street, throwing my papers out the window, but one morning I was walking to deliver a few papers and someone called the cops because of a “suspicious person”…I always wondered if that was her.
Finally, I always loved how well I knew the city. Trevor has lived here his whole life and I know more streets, shortcuts and neighborhoods than he does. Sometimes we’ll be driving somewhere and I’ll take the secret squirrel way and he’ll say “I have no idea where we are right now”. I felt this way in Boulder, Bridgewater (NJ) and now here – there isn’t a better way to learn a city than to work in the circulation department at a newspaper.
I was having all these thoughts and memories on my run this morning. It is usually when I do my best thinking and honestly when I come up with most of my ideas for what I write here. There has been a lot going on in my life the past few days – the stuff at work has been weighing on my mind. This morning, it was like the Universe was giving me some signs that it will all be okay. All those people with their papers, in their houses, early in the morning – showing me that there is still meaning in what I do each day. I needed that.