Waiting in Line at 1 a.m.

It’s 1 a.m., and Terry Lavis is waiting in line.

He does this every day.

He arrived at The Register-Guard building at 10 p.m., and has been waiting ever since.

“That’s how you get to be first carrier in line,” Lavis says. “That’s the only way to be first carrier in line.”

He’ll pick up his newspaper bundles at 1:30 a.m. and then drive to a south Eugene Albertsons’ parking lot, where he’ll prepare the papers for delivery.

Terry Lavis collects his bundles from The Register Guard for distribution.

Terry Lavis collects his bundles from The Register Guard for distribution.

But for now, he waits.

It’s especially cold this night. The frost on the road glistens under the headlights of his 2008 Nissan Frontier. Inside the cab of his little pickup, each breath comes out in a little white puff.

While many folks would prefer to be asleep at this time, he waits.

His job is to ensure that the 266 subscribers along his route will wake to find the news of the day waiting for them.

He is just one of the 170 carriers The Register-Guard employs. At 17-cents per paper delivered, he makes a decent wage.

But how did a 66-year-old man with a mechanical engineering degree end up here, waiting in line at 1 a.m.?

“I was born in England,” Lavis says. “My parents migrated to Australia when I was 12.”

After growing up in Australia and earning his degree, he married “an American lady” and moved to Oregon, he says.

He found a job at Marathon Coach in Coburg for 16 years. But in 2008, when the market for multi-million dollar RVs began to wane, Lavis was among the 160 employees who were laid off.

“I didn’t know what to do,” Lavis says. “So I went on unemployment for awhile.”

Though his unemployment checks provided him with $700 per week, Lavis says he knew that he would still need to find a new job.

“I couldn’t get a job, to tell ya the honest truth,” he says. “I was 60, almost. Every job I tried to get, there were 30 people going for them and I couldn’t get one. So, I thought, ‘Well, I guess I’ll go and deliver some newspapers.’”

When he started as a carrier, he delivered the bundles to the drop point for the other carriers to pick up and disperse.

However, The Register-Guard decided in July to begin having all the carriers personally pick up their bundles from the warehouse.

Lavis doesn’t seem to mind the change.

His route was extended recently, he says. So the extra income he had previously gotten for delivering the bundles hasn’t been lost, necessarily—just reappropriated.

Lavis prides himself on being one carrier who has no complaints about the work, the pay, or the hours.

Since starting his carrier position, Lavis has worked seven days a week, 365 days a year for all but two months in seven years.

And they’ve all started exactly the same: Waiting in line at 1 a.m.


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