, Derry, New Hampshire


May 2, 2013

Column: How to not succeed in business without really trying

One early Sunday morning recently, I noticed a car pull into my driveway. Its occupant, a middle-aged man, opened his door and tossed my newspaper, Frisbee-style, onto the porch. It landed with a pronounced “thud,” and then he was off. I watched as he repeated that ritual at several other stops down the street.

It occurred to me that this guy is yet another sign that the times they are a-changin’. Delivering newspapers used to be a kid’s first taste of working for a living. Today it’s a second or third job for adults, a way to make ends meet in an economy that continues to struggle.

I was not as excited as my mother when I got my paper route because it was her idea, not mine. She’d decided it was time I learned some responsibility and the value of a dollar, and I was learning neither watching old “Superman” episodes and playing endless games of Wiffle ball with the O’Brien boys next door.

I suspect my mother sensed early on that her youngest son was no budding titan of industry, but instead a budding slug who might end up, if she wasn’t careful, taking up permanent residence in her recently refurbished basement.

My mom insisted that I talk to my other next-door neighbor, a non-O’Brien if there ever was one. I guess he was 14 or 15 at the time, but he seemed much older to me, a real Junior Chamber of Commerce type. He was ready for the world of high finance, so he was more than willing to pass along his paper route to me.

I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but I’m a morning person. I had all day to not look forward to my new job delivering an evening newspaper, the Northern Virginia Sun.

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