The handwritten note protruding from a recent morning's Blade was at first thought to be a list of the week's available produce from Jim's roadside stand, around the corner. Boy, he surely gets up early to rev up sales for corn and beans, I thought.
But the note was not from Jim. It was from Denise, who gets up very early every day to pay a visit to my rural mailbox.
Denise is The Blade carrier for my Posey Lake neighborhood. Even before I received the note I knew that the carrier must be an exceptionally responsible person. My paper is always in the box and in inclement weather it is protected in a plastic bag.
I have been meaning to leave a note in the box to thank the carrier, but I just never got around to it. Now I know the person's name is Denise.
Following is the note, hand written in expert penmanship.
"Good Morning Blade Customers,
"Fall is approaching quickly which means winter is not far behind. I ask you again this year to please be patient with me during the bad weather days. I will do my best to get you your paper each day.
"For those of you who are leaving to warmer weather states, enjoy it, and know we are thinking of you.
"See you in the spring.
"The week of Sept. 13 there will be a sub doing my route so please be patient with her. Thank you.
How about that? I was deeply touched by the note. I had to find out about the person who cares enough about her work to write to her customers long before winter sets in and to explain any mishaps that might happen during her absence in September.
I had a pleasant conversation with Denise Walsh of Adrian, who was completely surprised that she had put one of her letters in the box of a Blade columnist. Where do you live, she asked, when I introduced myself on the telephone. She is a 41-year-old mother who begins her 125-mile drive at 12:30 a.m.
seven days a week. Her back-seat passenger, her 2-year-old son, Nash, rarely wakes up, and if he does, it's for a bottle of juice. They return to their home in Adrian about 4:30 a.m.
On the route that takes her through Adrian, Devils Lake, and Round Lake neighborhoods and the Hudson area, she delivers 125 newspapers weekdays and 175 on Sunday. Last weekend she also worked as a security guard at Michigan International Speedway. Otherwise, the newspaper delivery has been her sole occupation for four years.
While Denise is making her deliveries, her husband, Jim Walsh, is doing the same thing in the Blissfield, Deerfield, and Palmyra Blade circulation areas. She says it's a great plan because they are both away from home on their jobs at the same time.
Denise is quicker to underline the pluses on her all-night driving job than she is to share negatives. Working seven days is not ideal and winter weather understandably can be a problem, though last winter there was only one day when she couldn't make the deliveries because of snow.
Otherwise, cruising the countryside is peaceful, she says. "I don't have a boss and the only things I have to watch out for are deer and raccoons. "
Thanks for the note, Denise. I would invite you in for coffee; if you could change your schedule. By 5:30 a.m. I'm up and ready for company, coffee, and The Blade.