The Family (Or most of them)

The Family (Or most of them)
The Family

October 21, 2008

Perspective

What truly matters...

It appears that the strike at my newspaper MAY be coming to an end in the next day or two. This strike has shut the entire newspaper down, except for its website and its ability to deliver flyers.

The union I'm in represents everyone from us journalists, who earn as much as $90,000 a year, to the carriers, who earn way less. I've whined about the effects of the strike on my personal situation.

But this guy, who commented on our strike website, had this to say.

It touched me. And my comment to him, being a divorced father myself who wants to see his kids and be a part of their lives and as a fellow employee at another level, would be "I hear you and I support you."


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Hi, my name is Dan. I am a FP carrier and I feel the need to inform people of what it is like to be a carrier and let me tell you right from the start, that it is not a glamorous job.

I do it because I have to, not because I want to, and I will explain shortly.

Before I start, let me explain my situation. I am a recently divorced father of four young children. My divorce has left me in financial bind that has forced me to take on a part time job in order to survive.

The high cost of living, and the cost of raising children has necessitated the need to get a part time job to make ends meet.

I chose to be a FP carrier for two reasons: a) to pay the bills and b) it is the only part time job that I could get that would allow me to continue to see my children on a regular basis during visitation nights.

By being a carrier I can still partake in my childrens activities like baseball, soccer, dance recitals, hockey games, school plays, etc. A normal evening part time job would mean not seeing my children at all.

I can’t possibly tell my kids to just hang on for a couple of years while Dad has to work part time to survive.

So, now let me explain to you what it is like to be a carrier.

Imagine yourself having to go to bed at 8 pm every night, wake up at 1 am, drive to the depot in the hopes of getting your papers by 2:30, so that you can complete your route by 6:30 (or else get docked for late deliveries) so that you can possibly catch an hour of sleep before you have to wake up again to get ready for your day job.

Now, do this 7 days a week, rain or shine, winter or summer, looking forward to the occasional stat holiday.

These however, have limited benefits to a carrier because even though we have a day off, our bodies are so accustomed to waking up at 1 am, that we can’t sleep through the night even if we wanted to.

If we want to attend a social function, like a wedding, we have take several days off in advance of the function in order to get our sleep pattern back.

I read earlier that the average pay of a carrier is between $12000 and $14000 per year. This may seem like a lot to some for a part time job however let's put it into perspective.

The cost of fuel, the wear and tear on a vehicle, and most important of all, the wear and tear on your body and impact on your mental health is a high price to pay just to make ends meet.

As a newly divorced parent who is trying to keep their head above water, and pursue a somewhat normal social life, can you imagine the reaction you would get from a woman when I say:


"Hi, my name is Dan, I can go out on a date as long as I am home by 8 pm (because I am a FP carrier and I have to be in bed early)."

The wear and tear on the vehicle is huge. My vehicle when I started as a carrier was valued at $16,000. After a year, the car was appraised at $7,000, and could not be sold privately at the market value, and no one would take it in as trade because of the wear and tear.

You can put a value on a vehicle, but how do you put a value on the wear and tear that your body endures from delivering papers in the middle of the night when it is -40c with a windchill of -60c, and you are loaded down with papers like a pack mule, and snow up to your knees.

How do you deliver papers when the weather advisory states skin will freeze in 30 seconds, and FP carriers are expected to be outside for 3 hours. Put a value on that and tell me, are we really overpaid?

Are we really overpaid when your kids say ‘Dad, why do you have to go to bed at 8? Why can’t you stay awake at my play or hockey game? or your boss gives you heck for being late because you got a precious few hours extra of sleep.

So, for those of you that think that a FP carrier is overpaid, call me, come walk with me, and I can guarantee you that you would not last a week in my shoes (which I replace every 3 months). To my fellow brothers and sisters on the picket line, rock on.


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20 comments:

  1. That is a very moving story from a father trying to do his best in a terrible situation. While he may not know it, his sacrifices and hard work is noticed. It inspires the rest of us to do more; his children will remember and appreciate his efforts when they are old enough.

    I'm glad to hear the strike is resolving; hopefully, it'll be in your favor. Let's hear it for teamwork, for loyalty, and for doing the right thing!

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  2. I am very glad you posted this. You showed me a side of life about which I know nothing.

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  3. Dan should take a page from my carrier's book.

    My carrier has turned the mindnumbing drudgery of delivery into Family Time. While his kids trudge through the snow in their PJs and lob the paper onto my front porch.. and always, always, always, just far enough away from my front f*cking door that I need to go outside to fetch it UGH, he sits in his van with a big cup of coffee and reads the paper.

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  4. Eroswings:

    There are a thousand tales in the Naked City (or however that saying goes). This is one of them.

    Gautami:

    I'm glad you're glad. There are lots of things none of us know anything about.

    DC:

    I guess for every one, there's another. I'm not saying this guy's a saint but I sure can empathize.

    There's another carrier I talked to who has a regular full-time job Monday-Friday 9-5 and who has three other part-time jobs, one of them being a carrier.

    He works his day job, does one of his part-time jobs at night, goes to bed, wakes up at 2 a.m., delivers the paper, is home by 4:30 a.m. and then goes to bed again, wakes up and does his 9-5.

    He splits the other two part-time jobs roughly every second or third night being an usher at MTS Centre and at football games.

    MJ:

    Nope. No more cute puppy pix. They'll just go on my Flickr doo-dad.

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  5. Strikes-bah! A bit like war, strikes have coloured my life, one way or another, for more than 60 years.
    As with any repressive action, it's always the 'little guy' who takes the heftiest blow.
    Hope it's resolved before too many others suffer.

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  6. Even though I do not have this chaps job, I understand everything else he speaks of... only my shoes have slight heels...... I had 3 jobs when first divorced to support my 4 sons, as their father did not and does not still pay a single penny towards their raising, either financially or emotionally, so my job is also 7 days a week and has been for the last 7 years.... I go to bed exhausted with the sometimes burden of life and of the weight on my shoulders.... I to fall asleep if I go to the cinema with my youngest, or if I sit at watch him play Tchoukball or at his trampoline club.... I try now not to sit down at thise things or I know I will miss him as he looks over to me with that smile.....

    I wish Dan all the very very very best.... and tell him.... I would fully understand if he told me at a social event that he had to be in bed by 8....

    breathe in...... breathe out.....

    x

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  7. ps........ Im glad your strike is almost over.... I was about to make up a survival package for you :) marmite has so many uses lol

    x

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  8. Dinahmow:

    Yes, every bit like war, in this case. It's brutal, it's stupid, it's all about power and winning. It's crazy.

    There's always two sides to every story. And on this, I feel some sympathy for the company side. But they started this in a very mean way and forced the union's hand.

    And when a group of people feel they're being threatened or treated wrongly, they respond in a like-minded way for survival and for pride.

    That's where we're at now. It's ugly.

    Toasty:

    Geez, that's tough...really tough, and I feel for you, I really do.

    I don't know this Dan guy. He's just one of our carriers, don't think I've met him. But there's some resonance there.

    I'm not sure marmite could help me now, but thanks! There's a bit of a news blackout on negotiations now so I take that to mean progress.

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  9. That poor guy. Having worked in a few "lower end" sort of positions, I get that. Although I don't have kids, or a divorce. I hope his story gets around to the payroll department and they give him a big rise!!

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  10. Stace:

    No, he's just a payroll number...he'd get the same every other carrier gets.

    So no "big rises" in the future for him.

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  11. Tiz ok, it was/is what it is lol..... Im well ard so its ok :)

    x

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  12. Anonymous4:38 PM

    Is there any news on the strike front? It would be so good for everyone if the silly thing would just be over and done with - so you can all get on with your lives and actually feed your families.

    I see from that photo-feed box that you have removed the goatee. I just wanted to say that I thought it suited you quite nicely.

    Jill

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  13. I love Jimmy Buffett and this song of his gives me goosebumps. Great choice, Chris.

    And by the way, I agree with Jill...the goatee did suit you, grayish colored or not.

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  14. My husband and I used to be newspaper carriers too....back when we had one child. It's a grueling and difficult job but I'd do it again to make ends meet if I had to.

    Wait...I have to :)

    I'm glad your strike is going to be over soon. Ours is in it's 50th day...no fun.

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  15. Toasty:

    Sorry, didn't get "I'm well ard" in that comment. You're hardened by it?

    Anyway, yep -- it is what it is. :-)

    Jill:

    After two days of no bargaining, the two sides met today and exchanged offers. It's all just speculation, but I'm thinkin' we could be back by Wednesday or so.

    I'm hopin'.

    As far as the beard pix in the Flickr photo feed, I'm amazed because as far as I know, no one actually goes there and looks at those pix.

    It wasn't my intention for them to be seen by any bloggers, at least not right now. In fact, I've now hidden them and should have done that from the start.

    I took them for posterity, that's all. I started growing the beard as a bit of a lark, expecting the strike wouldn't last a week.

    If it goes on past Monday, it will be in its third week. Yech.

    Thanks for what you said, but it's SO grey. Given the length of the strike and all and my feelings about it, I just figured it wasn't fun any more. So I shaved.

    Laurie:

    Hey you...that song is one of the most beautiful I've ever heard, despite its sombre tone. Glad you listened to it!

    Buffet didn't write it -- it's by Canadian Bruce Cockburn, who amazingly I've never seen perform live.

    He wrote it and I think performs it much better.

    Buffett recorded it for a documentary of some sort on Canadian WWF wrestler Bret Hitman Hart.

    As far as the beard, thanks, girl...I can grow it back anytime, of course. Just didn't feel right at the moment.

    Pamela:

    I'm so sorry about your strike, that's crazy, what am I complainin' about...

    I hope you don't have to deliver papers again. But I guess you do what you have to do.

    Hugs, Pam.

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  16. Anonymous9:38 PM

    I didn't realize I shouldn't have gone to look at those photos. I just assumed because that Flicker box was on your page, that is was there to view.

    Grey is nothing to be ashamed of. Many men look very distinguished and some women extremely sexy with grey hair, whether it be on their head or their face. Oh... but not on the face for the women!

    Laurie is right - it suited your face. But obviously not your own personal taste. To each, his own. The style suited you - and the colour was secondary. Or lack thereof. ;-)

    I will keep my hopes up for a rapid end to your strike and to Pamela's, who is obviously suffering as well. Best to you both.

    Jill

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  17. Jill:

    No, I didn't mean that...the Flickr box is on my blog, so it's there for people to look at.

    My point was that aside from my brother Gerry in Kenora, Ont., and his family, and maybe one or two bloggers, no one else does, to my knowledge.

    I just figured it was safe to post those pix there, because of that. You did nothing wrong -- you actually looked at my whole blog.

    I've worn a beard before for an extended period at the request of a woman I was with, and I don't terribly mind it, but I guess it's not my preference.

    And in this case, it just served to remind me MORE of the strike than make me feel less affected by it, so it had to go.

    And I second the motion on Pam's situation.

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  18. no not hardened, cos you scratch my surface and Im as soft as toffee..... well ard means 'a tuff cookie'.. or biscuit as we would say lol

    x

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  19. Toasty:

    No, that's what I meant and thought you meant. Hardened to events and experiences, but still very soft of soul.

    :-)

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