I called them tip misers (and probably other things too, but this is a G-Rated column). The tip misers on my morning paper route might have gotten the damaged papers, or the wet papers, or the ones with the Thursday coupon inserts left out. Hypothetically, of course.
I delivered these papers seven days a week, 365 days per year, regardless of the conditions. Pouring rain, frigid New England cold, searing summer heat and everything in between, including neighborhood dogs who wanted to take a little nip of me every now and again.
A Texas college professor once wrote about "the invention of the paperboy," and commented that "paperboys were businessmen, establishing relationships in their own communities." The U.S. Postal Service even issued a stamp in 1952 recognizing paperboys for the "important service rendered their communities and their nation," further depicting them as standard bearers of "free enterprise."
I had to deliver my papers by 6 a.m. six days per week, no later than 6:30 a.m. on Sundays, and placed on the porch with the masthead facing the front door, protected from the elements. Long before computers and CNN delivered 24/7 "breaking news," kids schlepping papers delivered the breaking news.
Relying almost exclusively on tips from my 50+ customers, I hustled, and then hustled some more. I was, indeed, a businessman engaged in free enterprise. I knew exactly who tipped, who didn't tip, who paid on time, and who didn't pay on time, and I serviced the accounts accordingly.
I bumped into an old customer at a charity golf outing last summer. Although I had not seen this man for over 45 years, I had not forgotten him. For very good reason.
"Do you remember me?" he asked. "Absolutely," I responded. "You were one of my tippers."
Paperboys are a thing of the past. But when I received a letter from a friend's daughter a few weeks ago selling Girl Scout cookies, I was reminded that there's a new generation "establishing relationships in their own communities." Tatum thanked me for supporting her last year when she sold 750 boxes, and said she learned "goal setting, managing money, business etiquette and teamwork" in the process.
She then asked for help reaching her goal of 800 boxes and promised that this year she would, again, "personally deliver the cookies to your doorstep with my dad in March." That's tip-worthy service right there.
Clearly, Girl Scouts are businesswomen engaged in free enterprise. I'm all in on the entrepreneurial efforts of my friend's daughter, and she'll likely remember me as I remembered my morning paper route customers from so many years ago.
Support kids like Tatum – they're hustling, and then hustling some more.
And who wants to be remembered as a tip miser?
Carl Ficks helps busy professionals and their teams get back in the fitness game to reduce stress and increase productivity. He practiced law in New Britain for many years and is a proud member of the Generale Ameglio Society. He has run and cycled thousands of miles and competed in dozens of races, so when you're ready to get back in the game, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.