Random Paperboy Thoughts

A recent perusing of the Alltop.com listings drew my attention to an entry by Cyclelicio.us, who referenced an article by Tom Vanderbilt from howwedrive.com (Phew…this giving credit can be tedious), about paperboys; and what’s become of them. It got me reminiscing to days of old.

Seems paperboys have fallen prey to two factors. First, there’s the slow demise of the printed newspaper; which I hear peaked around the year 2000. Second, more papers are now delivered in the morning rather than in the afternoon, and of course kids aren’t likely to be allowed out of the house in the wee hours of the morning.

In early high school I spent two years as a morning paperboy. I’d get up every morning at 3:30 and pedal madly on a beast of a bike burdened with over fifty newspapers. Navigating that whale of a rig through shadows and past chasing dogs was pretty spooky…but an excellent workout. Over time I honed a personal path through hedges, between parked cars in driveways, through open gates, and up and down selected sections of curb.

It was a route designed for maximum efficiency.

Each morning I’d make it into a race against time, and would arrive home sweaty and out of breath. But if I went hard enough, I’d have enough time get in some extra sleep before school.

In the meantime, that was about the time I was getting heavily involved in cross-country and track…a path that would eventually lead me to a complimentary college degree and a short stint of running the road race circuit for Adidas.

Throughout my high school running career there were a few crazy runners who were doing ‘two a days’…you know, two workouts a day. I couldn’t imagine how they mustered up that much dedication.  I thought they had to be nuts.

It wasn’t until much later that I realized that I’d been unwittingly doing ‘two a days’ right from the start. In fact, with my daily grind around the neighborhood on a 100 lb bike I was benefiting from a classic case of cross-training.

But we’d never heard of ‘cross-training’.

During that era, the closest thing to ‘cross-anything’ in the exercise world was Richard Simmons leading aerobics classes in a girlie voice and short, striped shorts.

But whether I intended to or not, I was a pioneer in the cross-training arena…and I’m convinced that my secret morning workouts were a boost to my budding running career.

Now a word about parental fear…and keeping the kids safe indoors.

Lenore Skenazy has written a book entitled “Free Range Kids” in which she maintains that the rate of stranger abductions has been dropping rather than rising.

So why are kids getting dropped off at the curb of the schoolyard every morning and hustled home at the end of the day, only to be ensconced in the safety of their rooms (and in front of their computers)?

Because each and every tragic incident is trumpeted across the countryside via a proliferation of media.

Here’s what she says about it– “If we only focus on the rare and horrible, we will be too scared to let our kids do anything.”

And that type of living has it’s pitfalls as well…including fat, under-active kids who aren’t eligible for morning paperboy duties, should we ever need them again when the New York Times makes a comeback. 😉

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