The newspaper subscription was dirt cheap. We’re talking $2 for two years, Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday. When the offer came in the mail, I must have checked it a dozen times, using my cheaters to look for fine print. There was none. So why wouldn’t I subscribe? The Sunday coupons alone would more than make up for the cost. Heck, they’d be paying me to take the paper!
There was something nostalgic about having the paper delivered before the sun peeked its lazy eye over the horizon. Reminiscent of the days when young boys rang the bell, steam rolling from their nostrils, collecting coins in an envelope in exchange for a stub that proved you had paid. In the morning, the smell of coffee and rustling newsprint would bring me from my bed, knuckles rubbing sleep from my eyes. I bounced on my father’s knee while he silently read the headlines, Mother’s bangs taped neatly to her forehead.
But reality hit like a poorly aimed Thanksgiving issue against the front window. My paper is delivered not by a paper boy, but a paper man, clad eerily in all black, driving a clunker in need of new brakes and a muffler. He lacks aim and has, on several occasions, lopped off the tops of carefully planted flowers. The issues, when retrieved, sit in the entry until the pup brings them into the living room, shredding the protective plastic and scattering the pages over the floor. Sometimes I save him time and just hand the newspaper over when I bring it in. It’s a cheap toy at $1 per year.
The coupons, which were the real selling point, take about an hour to sort, cut, update and file. If I save $5 in coupons on our shopping trip for Bubba, the dogs and myself, I’m getting paid about $5 an hour. When there were six of us living off one income, it was justifiable, but now my time is worth more. In addition, what do coupons really help you buy? The newest fad processed food, that’s what. When was the last time you saw a coupon for fruit, vegetables, or meat in the Sunday ads?
Day 1: Thrown in the general direction of the front door.
Day 2: Found in the flowers and tossed inside.
Day 3: Shredded by the dog.
Day 4: Picked up piece by shredded piece.
Day 5: Recycled.
In the summer it was used in the garden as mulch. Or if I was feeling very efficient, I’d pick it up on my way out and put it in the recycle bin on the way to my car. It was like chopping down a forest and sending it to the recycling center every day.
It wasn’t making any sense. And it wasn’t bringing back the paper boys on bicycles or keeping me any more informed. It had to stop. And so I went online, where I get all my news, and I cancelled my $2-for-two-years subscription. I admit it felt a little like I was canceling a tradition; giving up on the way life used to be. But everything evolves if it is to exist at all. The newspaper will need to find a way to change and survive or go the way of the dinosaurs. The man in black will need to find another way to fund his car repairs. I can’t be single-handedly responsible for the decline of society. And this should have been the end of my story.
Except little did I know that canceling a subscription to the newspaper automatically enrolls you into a subscription to a daily phone call. At first, I didn’t answer. I didn’t recognize the number, and they didn’t leave a message. But curiosity eventually got the better of me, and I answered the call. They want me back. They want to know why I cancelled. They want to know if I would be interested in a subscription for just Sunday, or maybe Sunday and Thursday. Whatever I want I can get . . . for the bargain price of . . . . wait for it . . .
. . . just one dollar a week!
No thanks, I said. I’ll let Twitter tell me when I need to know something. Then I’ll Google it and decide if I should post it on Facebook.
Peace . . .