Swans Commentary » swans.com September 26, 2011  



The Best Of Times, The Worst Of Times


by Jan Baughman





Read Chapter 1 of this saga, Help Wanted: A rural struggle with The New York Times delivery
Read Chapter 2 of this saga, I Want My NYT: Rural Delivery, from the Sublime to the Ridiculous


(Swans - September 26, 2011)   When I sat down to write Chapters One and Two of our struggles to get the Sunday New York Times delivered to our rural home in Anderson Valley, California, I admitted that I did not know how, when, or if the saga would end. Little did I know how quickly the conclusion would present itself, let alone what the surprise ending would be.

As I've explained in the previous chapters, for two years we'd attempted to no avail to have a blue NYT tube, in which the paper would be delivered, installed at the bottom of our hill; and for the five months from April to August of this year, we faced the paper being missed all together, delivered to the wrong house, or delivered with missing sections. After countless e-mails and phone calls, and a veritable team of NYT representatives attempting to remedy the situation, the tube was finally dropped off and installed (by us) and received its debut delivery on July 24, with only one paper missed since. With guarded optimism, we've returned to enjoying the seemingly-simple Sunday-morning pleasure of reading the newspaper, in paper, and not online.

The end of this story began to reveal itself on Tuesday, September 13, when my husband, Gilles d'Aymery, received a phone call from a NYT representative who indicated that "the paper would not be delivered no more as of October 1." The poor grammar was emblematic of the declining literacy levels in this country and perhaps the demise of newspaper readership. Gilles was told that we could get the paper through the US Postal Service (USPS) one or two days later, or get it on the Internet.

How ironic to consider the sinking USPS as an option for receiving the sinking New York Times, not to mention the silliness of paying to get the Sunday paper on Monday or Tuesday, when it's already obsolete.

As an aside, the USPS is contemplating saving itself through, among other things, the closure of some 3,600 post offices and 250 mail-handling facilities (potentially contributing about 36,000 casualties to America's unemployment battlefield), which has not affected -- yet -- the two post offices in Anderson Valley (Boonville and Philo). It used to be that the Boonville post office, where we have a P.O. Box, had one slot for mail to be sent within Boonville, and another for mail to be delivered outside of Boonville. In an effort to save the Cloverdale post office 32 miles away, now all mail, even that to be sent within Boonville, is carted off to Cloverdale to be sorted and then returned to the Boonville post office for P.O. Box delivery. American ingenuity and waste at their finest!

Back to the end-of-NYT-delivery sorry story: Gilles sent an e-mail on the 13th to Hank O'Day, the amicable Times representative who finally turned our delivery situation around (so we thought), regarding the phone call he'd received, asking "What the heck is going on?" Mr. O'Day replied:

Hi Gilles,

I did some checking and discovered that the [Santa Rosa] Press-Democrat made a business decision to cease home delivery distribution in the Anderson Valley. Unfortunately, our home delivery rides along with the PD's. I'm sure you can imagine that we do not have sufficient home delivery numbers in the Anderson Valley to warrant a stand-alone route.

From what I understand, there will continue to be retail sales of The Times at the:

Boonville Hotel
Lemons Market in Philo
Mosswood café in Boonville and
the Pic and Pay in Boonville.

I wish I had better news to report, but at least you'll be able to purchase the Sunday Times at one of the above locations.



Gilles replied the following day:

Dear Hank,

How ironic -- and sad -- that after so many months of efforts to get the NYT delivered properly and in time, the rug is being pulled from under our feet (and tires) by this little crappy newspaper's business decision -- a paper that is fully owned by the NYT Co. to boot, which means that the decision had to be agreed upon or chosen in NY.

I guess that we will keep the tube as a reminder of what could have been, but, apparently, was not meant to be.

As far as I am concerned, I'm done with the NYT. I won't read it any longer, for I am not going to pay to read a paper online that has treated Jan and me so poorly.

Thank you for your past kind help. I regret the development.

(I suppose Jan will write a piece about the demise of the NYT in this household.)


Gilles d'Aymery

With our Sunday subscription summarily cancelled because of The Press Democrat -- a local, watered-down nothingness -- we will now have to pay to have unlimited online access to the NYT, even if we buy the Sunday paper in one of our local venues. Of course, there are always ways work-arounds... Or perhaps the paper of record would take pity and grant us an exception for our loyalty, perseverance, and innocence in this matter. Mr. Sulzberger, Mr. Heekin-Canedy, if you're reading...


T Minus Two Weeks


On Sunday, September 18, we received the paper, and it included a section called "Collectibles: Historical Items From The New York Times Store," selling everything from a $60 vintage stock certificate for the International Mercantile Marine Company, which owned the Titanic; original New York Times Civil War newspapers, 1861-1865, for $75; to a Kit Carson, Jr., show saddle and poster, circa late 1800s, for $25,750. I'm not sure that a garage sale will keep the Gray Lady alive, but it gave me the idea of saving our last two newspapers (assuming the final one is delivered) because one day, long after the paper NYT has run the course of the Titanic, they may actually be worth something -- perhaps even the trouble we've gone through to try and read it... Meanwhile, we'll see what happens between now and October 1. Will the NYT's publisher, Mr. Sulzberger, do right by us? Will we follow Mr. O'Day's advice and drive to one of the local businesses for the paper, as we used to do? Will we play the unlimited online access game? (Trust me, it's very easy to game the NYT online system.) All questions that will be answered in the final chapter in some future edition of this reliable publication.

As Gilles put it succinctly, we regret this development.


[Author's note: Irony of ironies -- in another unbelievable turn of events, two days after this article was completed, Gilles received a call from a New York Times representative who understood that we no longer wanted delivery. Gilles explained that we do, and that it is being canceled because of The Press Democrat's decision. He said he would investigate and call back. Never heard from him again. Another little cog on the sinking NYT ship...]

Continue to the last chapter of this sorry saga.


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Swans -- ISSN: 1554-4915
URL for this work: http://www.swans.com/library/art17/jeb232.html
Published September 26, 2011