Is the trouble over? Is all my wishin’ and hopin’ and thinkin’ and prayin’—to say nothing of my incessant bellowing at customer service representatives—finally paying off?

Maybe. Monday’s and Tuesday’s papers arrived in a timely fashion, around six-thirty am. Wednesday’s papers appeared at a more annoying seven-fifteen or so. Then Thursday’s was good, and miracle of miracles, the Friday assortment hit the driveway around six-thirty. But we must wait to see what happens on Saturday and Sunday. And whether any changes are permanent.

My Dear One and I are newspaper readers: we like to read our news on paper. We subscribe to The Baltimore Sun and The New York Times seven days a week. We also get the county papers, The Aegis, on Wednesdays and Fridays, and The Record, the Friday weekly.

The Sun owns The Aegis and The Record; all of the papers are delivered by the same service. And therein lies the rub.

While the dailies are supposed to arrive before breakfast, by six or six-thirty, the local rags don’t have to show up until eight. This effectively holds the Wednesday and Friday Sun and Times hostage to a different and completely unsatisfactory schedule.

At least on my delivery route. And at least now.

For several years Ed delivered our papers. He was terrific; when I mentioned that the delays on Wednesdays and Fridays were a problem for us, he changed his route and all was well. When he retired from the job his replacement—a woman we will call “S”–took over. Things have not, shall we say, gone well since. I caught her once as she arrived and asked about getting papers earlier; she got snippy. As time went on, deliveries came later and later, Wednesday and Friday deliveries frequently occurring after eight, weekend papers not arriving until close to nine. I called. I complained. I stressed out over it all.

I also noticed, when I walked in the early morning, that homes on adjacent streets did get papers at a decent hour. One of our neighbors, “D” lives just around the corner; I can see his driveway from my bathroom window. His papers arrive bright and early. Homeowners on a nearby cul-de-sac were getting theirs, too. I’d glance at the clock on my iPod and note the times: six forty-five, seven-oh-five, six fifty-nine.

I noticed that those papers were contained in plastic bags different from the ones on my papers. One morning, “S” came down a street on which I was walking, flinging papers at houses, and turned left on a street that was the shortcut back to my house. I remembered, too, a couple years ago, seeing a person deliver papers on the street at the corner, and that person wasn’t Ed.

Was it possible, pondered I, that our house is on the edge between two separate delivery routes? The area that “S” covers is apparently very large and we seem to be the final stop. Nothing was gonna get “S” to adjust her route; might it be more practical to get us transferred to the other route, the Punctual Route, as I think of it, rather than agitating for better service from “S”?

My complaints took a new turn. I continued calling customer service at both the Sun and the Times, but now I took to asking for managers, describing what observed on the Punctual Route, and pleading that we be switched.

Customer Service listened. Customer Service was sympathetic. Customer Service said it would effect change. No change was effected, though, that I could see.

All this had been going on for the best part of a year when I tried a new tactic: calling Customer Service and asking for refunds on papers that had not arrived by seven on weekdays, eight on weekend. I mean, if a paper gets there so late I don’t get around to reading it, it might as well not have been delivered at all. Right?

So I got refunds for Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday. I also got an irate call from “S” who said she did not deliver Wednesday’s Sun because I had called in for a refund and such calls get forwarded directly to her phone. She embarked on a tirade about the size of the route, how The Aegis and Record did not have to be delivered before eight, and how I didn’t understand and was completely unreasonable. I tried to address a few of these points but her incessant interrupting finally drove me to hang up the phone.

And call Customer Service at The Baltimore Sun.

I went over it all. Again. I asked to be changed to the other route. Again. I made abundantly clear my displeasure at being raked over the coals by a person being paid to provide me with a service. “S” has a crappy job, not a job I would want to do, but it is a job she sought out; doing the job correctly is her problem, not mine.

That was a couple of weeks days ago. Since then paper delivery has been no worse, and seemed once or twice to improve.

Then there were noticeable improvements.

I was wishin’ and hopin’ and thinkin’ and prayin’ that this address was permanently relocated to the Punctual Route—and I have discovered it has not. Delivery remains somewhat improved. We’ll see if it stays that way.

Baltimore Sun and New York Times

Baltimore Sun and New York Times

Meanwhile I’ll sing along with  Dusty Springfield.