Paper Route or Dairy Cow?

I like to tell people I used to be in the newspaper business. It sounds respectable and it’s true. Yes, ok, fine, it’s also true that I only delivered the paper, but still…I technically was in the biz.

Besides, if the Grand Forks Herald didn’t have me and my Huffy mountain bike, how would Mr. Johnson have kept up-to-date on the latest world news? What would accompany Mrs. Queen and her morning coffee?

“Should I get a paper route?” This is a question nobody has ever asked me. But if one day I get the pleasure, I’ll have something to say because I have thought about it quite a bit.

The first thing I’d do is ask this person whether they’ve ever thought about owning a dairy cow instead of getting a paper route. I know that might seem like an odd thing to ask, but really it makes a lot of sense.

Because the business hours of both a paper route and a dairy cow are about the same: up before the devil, seven days a week. Want to know another thing they have in common? The news cycle and a cow’s milk supply don’t take vacations.

Now let’s just imagine for a minute that you absolutely have to miss a day. Well, it’s going to have to be a very serious excuse. Nothing like weddings and funerals (except your own funeral) will do. Maybe you break both your legs. That’ll work. So while you’re waiting for your legs to heal, you need to have a friend who owes you a big-time favor cover your route. This friend needs to owe you big time because your paper route doesn’t pay so hot. It’s also extremely complicated to know all the details of each person’s delivery (e.g., Mrs. Olmsted – leave a paper on back step. Mr. Anderson – leave paper on porch. Mrs. Dahl – leave on table in kitchen, start coffee maker, and feed cat.) So the learning curve is steep and the ROI pathetic. So, Step 1: have a friend. Step 2: make sure this friend is fairly intelligent. Step 3: make sure this friend is in your debt.

Something else to consider. One morning as I was peddling to my last house, I realized that my pack felt a little light. Sure enough, one tiny little paper short. It could’ve been my fault. It probably was. I must have dropped it. But in the name of journalism (and also because it was company protocol) what did I do? I rode my Huffy to the Holiday gas station and bought a paper with my very own, hard-earned 75 cents, got back on my horse, and delivered that news like I was Paul Revere.

Was I late for school? Yes. But a more important question is, did I get the message to the people?

I absolutely did.

Anyway, back to whether you should get a paper route. I think it should be clear by now that you should definitely get a dairy cow.