One class of people has emerged as quietly heroic from our two weeks of scratching the underbelly of society: the newspaper carrier. They are the town criers of old, cured of the bad habit of hollering the wee-morning hour followed by “… AND ALL IS WELL.” Usually, all IS well, so it doesn’t need saying, but when it’s not, they often see things. Somebody’s trailer is being stolen. Another person’s purse is taken from their front porch. Paper carriers know their neighborhoods (at least at that hour) better than the residents themselves. They can speak authoritatively about something that seemed “strange.”
Two weeks ago, a friend of mine’s father was delivering papers just west of Eugene. He parked his car to deliver to a small apartment building. When he returned, his car was gone. He called his daughter, he called 911, and he called the newspaper to get more copies so he could finish his route! I’m not even sure he made those calls in that order.
We heard testimony last week from a paper carrier who witnessed thievery. He spoke with unnerving precision about when and where he was, but twice he added (under his breath) “I was running late that day.” These everyday heroes stop to do good (calling to report something suspicious), or get slowed by somebody doing bad (taking your car), and their first thought is how to finish their rounds by the appointed hour.
Can we deputize the newspaper carriers across the city, give them a special tip line to call, and an orchestrated program to let authorities know that “all is well” without waking the rest of us? Just a thought.