It’s a common thought that, in football, a referee or offensive lineman is doing a great job only if you never notice he or she is on the field. Oh, it’s thankless to be lauded for anonymity, but the only times those people tend to get attention is when there is a major mistake on the field of play.
You don’t pay attention to the officials if everything is going smoothly and there are no glaring bad calls, and you hardly notice offensive linemen unless there is a penalty or a quarterback gets obliterated by an unchecked defensive end. In our business, we have a similar job — the guy who delivers the papers.
Thankfully, we have a tremendous delivery guy. Jeff Seyfert has been delivering the Coastal Point since our inception, and he largely flies under the radar because, well, he does his job well. Think about it: Have you ever called a newspaper because your paper got delivered on time? Now, have you ever made the call because your paper was not delivered, or was delivered late?
We get very few calls regarding our delivery.
When we got a phone call last week saying Jeff was sick, we all kind of stood in limbo for a minute. Sick? Jeff? This was not a situation we had faced before, and we all kind of took Jeff’s reliability and dedication for granted over the years. The concensus was a collective bout of concern for Jeff’s well-being, followed by the time-honored American tradition of rolling up our sleeves and planning our attack to get the papers on the streets.
True to form, the staff here jumped on board immediately. The delivery route was divided up amongst 12 people, and we set out with enthusiasm for the task ahead.
I was teamed with our over-energetic reporter Ryan Saxton. For the record, Ryan enjoys a relaxing Sunday by riding his bike about 10 miles, getting in a workout at the gym and going out all night with his friends. I, on the other hand, enjoy my quiet Sundays by sitting on the couch and trying to balance a can of Pringles on my chest while I drink enough beer to ensure I’m asleep by about 8 p.m. This would work, I figured. I’d drive the car, soak in the wonders of air conditioning and Mr. Energizer Bunny would hop in and out to drop off papers.
The only problem was, well, we deliver a lot of papers every week. I’ve always been aware of the sheer numbers we put out every week, but it’s a far different animal when you’re staring at the massive pile of newsprint in a physical state.
Undeterred, Ryan and I set out to tackle our route. After a few hours of start-and-stop driving, getting out to fill our boxes and stands and generally walking a lot more with bundles of papers than I would have preferred, we finished off all the papers we could fit in our car. A quick glance at our route sheet told us that we were nearly finished with our part of the delivery.
Actually, that’s not true. We were about halfway through with our list, and we were dead tired. Ryan realized that he had to cut short his time on the road because he had to go to his other job, and I went home to pick up my unsuspecting wife to help me finish off my portion.
Amazingly enough, we got through the rest of the route without killing each other and, from the ongoing cell phone conversations throughout the day with Susan Lyons, I realized that the whole route was just about wrapped up — approximately eight hours after we started.
That’s not too bad, right? Eight hours is a normal work day for many in this nation, and the physical part was not as demanding as many people go through every day during their jobs.
It’s important to note that Jeff does this each and every week, in addition to the other papers he delivers. And, just to add the proverbial cherry, he does it by himself.
That’s right. Every Thursday, Jeff gets the thousands and thousands of papers we deliver every week, loads them into his van and sets off to tackle the entire route. By himself. He starts in the early afternoon every week, and finishes up sometime Friday morning.
By being out with an illness, we all learned just how valuable Jeff is to our team — and with very little fanfare or notice.
Jeff, I owe you an apology for taking you for granted every week. Your professionalism and dedication deserve platitudes and a pat on the back. Though it’s hard for me as a Baltimore Ravens fan, I have to give a thumbs-up to this Steelers fan who delivers our paper every week.
Actually, you have no idea how hard that was. Next thing you’re going to tell me is that I have to say something nice about a Yankees fan or someone who works in television news. I mean, come on, would it be so hard for you to root for the Ravens and Orioles, or at least not a team that consistently smashes my teams’ hopes every year and leaves me a twitching mass of ...
But I digress.
Jeff, we all realized just how valuable you are to what we do, and I just wanted to take this time to say thanks. Now, um, get yourself better, pal.