Queen City Nerve

Charlotte's Cultural Pulse

Editor’s Note: The Independent Hustle
Thoughts from the paper route

By Ryan Pitkin

January 3, 2019

Ryan Pitkin

“Paper boy, paper boy, all about that paper boy.” 

The lyric from a faux rap song on the FX show Atlanta was all I could think about as I climbed into my car on Dec. 5 with about 3,000 copies of the first issue of Queen City Nerve.

I’m writing about my experience delivering papers not to bore you with the earworms in my head, but to explain why delivering the newspaper that I helped create has changed the way I view my job as a whole.

What better way to let people know about the hard work we’ve been doing than to bring the papers straight to them and then chat in their place of business?

It’s also cool to see the reactions I get when I appear with a load of papers after folks hadn’t been getting their alt weekly fix for a month.

When I walked into Bed, Bedder & Moore on Clanton Road, one customer and two waitresses ran right up to me to grab a copy before I could even put it down or tell them what the new paper was. That proves to me that people are hungry for the type of content we are putting out.

On Thursday, December 20, my business partner Justin LaFrancois and I had been going for well over 24 hours (with a small break for sleep) and morale was getting low as the rain hadn’t stopped all day. But then as I walked into Levine Museum of the New South to drop off a fresh stack of papers I heard a raucous welcome and wondered what folks were so excited about. I looked up to see city councilman Braxton Winston and local photog Gawd Alvin C Jacobs Jr. welcoming me in, excited to see the new paper. That gave me the motivation I needed to keep things moving, regardless of the weather. (Alvin would later join us to help deliver our third issue and quickly learned how tough this racket really is. Much love to him for the support.) 

Delivering papers also gives me a chance to get feedback from readers. As I walked into one local strip club at around 5 p.m. during my first delivery, I bellied up to the bar to ask the bartender where I should place them.

One guy walked up to grab one from me while another customer asked me to hand one to him. The lady in his lap made it hard for him to come to me. He was none-too-distracted though, as he earnestly asked me the most important question on his mind: “You still got the crossword, right?”

People love that crossword puzzle, and while it may seem trivial to us compared to the subjects we actually report on, we’re here to give the people what they want.

In the end, that’s what we’re all about.

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