Late on Thursday afternoon, the last day of publication for The Ann Arbor News, Cary Push was waiting in his pickup truck at the corner of Eberwhite and Woodridge. The bundle drop hadn’t been made yet to his carrier route, which covers this west side neighborhood south of Liberty and west of Seventh Street.
When the bundled papers finally arrived, and after Push had rolled them into their plastic bags, The Chronicle tagged along for a bit as he delivered the last day’s edition of The News.
We shadowed him as he walked through the neighborhood with a canvas bag loaded with newspapers. He stopped at some of the houses – but by no means all – and placed each paper in the spot where he’d learned over the last three years that subscribers on his route preferred to have their paper delivered.
Some of them got placed right on the door mat. Others found a temporary home in the hooks under the mailbox. Some were tossed inside a screened-in porch.
None of them were simply flung from the sidewalk in the general direction of the house. That was something that one loyal subscriber and reader of The News was a little concerned about – because it won’t be Push who’ll be delivering the printed edition of AnnArbor.com to this neighborhood – that’s the publication intended to replace The Ann Arbor News, at least on Thursdays and Sundays.
That subscriber – who greeted Push with a handshake, wished him well, and asked for his contact information – wanted to know who would be delivering the new paper, and whether they were just going to throw it from a car. In light of some recent commentary by Chronicle readers, it’s a subject that resonates across Ann Arbor.
The conversation between Push and the subscriber continued. Contemplation of newspapers thrown with too much enthusiasm raised the specter of broken windows. Push couldn’t say for sure who or how the new paper would be delivered in that neighborhood, but told the subscriber if there were any broken windows, to definitely give him a call: “I do glazing, you know!”
Push owns Joe’s Glass and Handyman Service – “Joe” is his middle name. That business he described as “not going too bad.” But he’ll be continuing to supplement his income from that business by delivering the Thursday and Sunday editions of AnnArbor.com. He just won’t have the Eberwhite route. His new route will be the next neighborhood west of Eberwhite off of Liberty, which will get the sort of human-touch service he’s been providing here.
It’s not just the geographic location that will change. The Thursday AnnArbor.com will be a morning paper, unlike the weekday afternoon Ann Arbor News, and the bundle drops will come at 2 a.m. Push says he imagines that Thursday nights, he’ll try to get to bed around 9-10 p.m. for a few hours of sleep, but on Saturdays, he’d likely just stay up all night.
Push figures that the first few days, he’ll need extra time to learn the 300 addresses where he’ll deliver the new paper, but that once he learns the route, he’ll have no trouble getting the papers out on time.
And Push’s confidence on that score is good, because there’ll be one less hour to get the Sunday paper delivered, compared to the standards required by The News. AnnArbor.com wants the papers on the door step by 7 a.m., instead of 8 a.m.
In any case, it’s a fair bet that at whatever time he delivers them, Push’s papers will land on the doorstep or whatever place subscribers want them placed – not just wherever they happen to land.