Suzi gave me grief this morning even before anybody in the family could. Suzi and her husband Sam own the general store and bait shop here in North Puffin. When they aren’t behind the counter, their assistant Mark waits on customers. Suzi was right and wrong to chastise me but mostly right. See, last Sunday, the Burlington Free Press delivered just 4 papers to the store and I didn’t get one.
I said a dirty word. Out loud. In fact I probably said, “Those ****ers” when Mark gave me the bad news.
Suzi called me on it this morning when I asked her to hold a paper for us. “You weren’t very polite to Mark,” she said. “You should not have cursed at him.”
I’ve been known to miss out on a paper there because I was late arising on a Sunday morning but that’s my own fault. It irks me when the news conglomerate doesn’t hold up their end of the deal despite my long experience with that company.
We used to get the Sunday paper delivered at home. I like everything about home delivery here in North Puffin except the price, the business model, and the paper itself.
The paper itself, self-titled “Vermont’s newspaper,” is less than ideal especially when compared to other papers around the country. The Miami Herald, for example, is a real newspaper. The Sunday Burlington Free Press, with just 32 pages in the four editorial sections, has less than a quarter of the Sunday Herald‘s content.
The Free Press business model is borrowed from the phone company. That means it ain’t free. My primary complaint, year in and year out, has been that they cheat on the bill. They bill for papers not delivered, apologize, promise to fix the problem, and bill for papers not delivered.
The price is ridiculous. There is no excuse for a local paper to charge more than a national paper. The Free Press charges $1.75 on Sunday plus an extra half a buck for home delivery, week in and week out. The Herald delivers each Sunday edition and the Florida Keynoter twice weekly (that’s three separate papers and three separate deliveries) for a little more than half of that. The three papers and three deliveries add up to one or two more than 32 pages, too.
If you wonder why I keep rewarding this outfit for such lousy behavior, the answer is simple. They are the only Sunday paper with any Vermont coverage in this part of the state. They publish a local toob guide. And they have the grocery store fliers.
All that is true but it’s no excuse for what I said when the store had no papers. Mark thought I was talking about him.
I hate it when that happens.
When I apologized this morning, Suzi admitted that she hates the Freep, too.
My first response to her might normally have been, Hey, deal with it, but Mark is truly a sweet and caring young man who probably really did think I was mad at him for the Freep‘s screwup.
This is not about Mark. It’s about the Free Press (those ****ers) and my need to spread more joy in spite of them.