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Debi Meyer and her husband Marty both deliver the Seattle Times and Seattle P-I seven days a week. Photo by Jason Pagano. View more Seattle P–I photos.

Debi Meyer and her husband Marty both deliver the Seattle Times and Seattle P-I seven days a week. Photo by Jason Pagano. View more Seattle P–I photos.

KUOW News

Home Delivery

Jason Pagano
03/13/2009

The morning paper: Delivered to the doorstep, spread out on the table and read with a cup of coffee. For many people, the loss of the Seattle Post–Intelligencer means the end of a daily ritual. And it also means an economic hit for more than a thousand people who deliver the paper every morning. Jason Pagano rode along with one carrier who delivers the P–I.

TRANSCRIPT

It's after midnight at the newspaper distribution warehouse in Lynnwood. Debi Meyer is putting advertising inserts together. She and about thirty other carriers are waiting for the paper to arrive from the printer. Debi delivers in an area north of the city, in Mill Creek. It's a job she first took so she could be at home with her four children during the day.

Meyer: "It was a part–time job, and we were only going to do it for a short time, and it just ended up years later, you know, income. And that's why I've done it, for the kids, pretty much. We've paid college and all of that with it, so it's been good for us."

Debi has been delivering papers for 20 years, 400 papers a night, seven days a week. She's hired as an independent contractor, so in addition to the P–I, she delivers The Seattle Times and a few other papers. Her husband also delivers papers as a second job. Debi gets his papers ready and leaves them at the warehouse for him to pick up later.

Meyer: "Okay, we're ready."

The newspapers ride up front. I share the backseat of Debi's Honda with more bundled papers and some bagged copies of the P–I. She keeps her window down and we head out to the first neighborhood of the night.

Pagano: "So it's 2:30 in the morning right now. It's pretty quiet."

Meyer: "Yeah, very. It's kind of lonely and scary out here, so I always keep the light on in my car. It just makes you feel kinda so not alone, I think."

Debi drives a little further, then takes a right into an apartment complex. We pull to a stop in the middle of the parking lot.

Meyer: "It begins. The fun begins."

She hops out and leaves the car door open. Through the window, I watch her break left and dart up a stairwell. She drops one paper on a doorstep and starts halfway up the stairs, then stops, jumps and floats a paper up to an apartment on the next floor. She runs back down and jumps into the driver's seat and we're off again.

Meyer: "You don't realize it but, yeah, you do quite a bit of exercise doing a route. This is one of my customers that used to give my kids gum when they would come with me in the day and her husband George would wait for my kids in his little wheelchair out here. So we kinda started a thing where she's got a hook up there, a mail hook, and I put her paper on that, actually, every night. So, that's where this one goes."

It's not clear yet what the P–I going out of business will mean for paper carriers. For Debi, it will come down to how many P–I customers choose to switch over to The Seattle Times.

Meyer: "You know, I have a fair amount of P–I customers so, yeah, if nobody switched over it would be a big impact. We pay for our cars and our gas, all of it. So, yeah, it's gonna hurt, definitely."

We keep going, delivering 400 hundred papers, one at a time. Sometimes we pull into the driveway, sometimes she gets out, sometimes Debi wings one out the window.

Pagano: "I'm sorry, are we driving on the sidewalk right now?"

Meyer: "Yeah, we are. Easier to hit the front doors here doing it this way."

And as we swerve around Mill Creek I ask her, with the possibility of the P–I going away, what does she think about the future?

Meyer: "I think there'll always be a paper, it's just how long will home delivery last? I don't know. But, I think you have to have a paper, don'tcha? Really. You know, I think there'll always be a paper."

For KUOW News, I'm Jason Pagano.

© Copyright 2009, KUOW

12.09.18

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