He bought a subscription to the newspaper.

Every day, the paperboy delivered the newspaper. He’d walk outside on the porch step every morning, find the newspaper, bring it inside, and read it over breakfast. It was a simple pleasure, but he made it an important part of his daily routine.

It’s not that the newspaper was always full of lovely things that made him happy. Sometimes the newspaper made him sad. Sometimes the stories it told were more bad than good. But it wasn’t really about that. It was about how the ritual of interacting with the daily paper enriched his life. It made him a more informed person, a more well-rounded person. Damn it, it made him a better person.

Sometimes the paper came late. On those days, he might not get the chance to read the whole thing. Sometimes the paper didn’t come at all. If it happened a time or two too often, he’d wait until business hours, ring up the newspaper company, alert them to the fact that he hadn’t received his paper, and the company would correct the problem. He never faulted the paperboy for this, even though it likely was the paperboy’s fault. He reasoned, nothing and no one is perfect. Sometimes the news will make you upset. Sometimes the news won’t come at all. This is life, and life isn’t perfect. He was fine with that.

But, one day, the paper didn’t come, and he tried to get on with his day, even though he was really looking forward to reading the paper that day. He was a little bit rattled. Okay, he was annoyed. He admitted it. He wanted to read his newspaper. He paid for it! But he knew that sometimes these things happened, so he tried not to ruminate on it. The next day, though, the paper didn’t come. So, he rang up the newspaper company on the telephone to alert them.

“Hello,” he said, “I’ve not received my newspaper for the second day in a row. Please make sure I get tomorrow’s paper.”

“I’m sorry,” said the voice on the other end of the line, “but we didn’t print newspapers today or yesterday. We didn’t feel like it.”

He was a little taken aback. He hadn’t expected an answer like that. “Was there something wrong?” He asked.

No, the voice told him. They simply hadn’t felt like printing a newspaper that day. Maybe tomorrow. Then the line was disconnected. He had been hung-up-on.

The next day, he received the newspaper. He received it again the following day. He decided it was just an anomaly.

The following week, however, it happened again. Two days in a row, no newspaper was delivered. He rang the newspaper company and was again informed that they hadn’t felt like printing newspapers that day. Then they hung up before the man could protest.

Then, again, the newspaper was delivered reliably for the rest of the week.

This went on for several weeks. Eventually, the newspaper stopped arriving for a third day, and then a fourth. Frustrated, the man decided to pay a visit to the newspaper office. When he got there, he was greeted by a pretty woman who introduced herself as a general manager. He explained his problem to her, and she nodded with understanding. She let him vent out all his frustrations, and she listened kindly and attentively.

When he was finished talking, she replied, “I know this must seem very frustrating for you, but you see, sometimes we don’t feel like printing the newspaper. Sometimes we’re tired. Sometimes we’d rather do something else. Sometimes we just go to sleep. So that is what we do. We have delivered many newspapers for you over the years. Why, this year alone we have already delivered over one hundred newspapers to you! I understand your frustrations, but you really have no right to complain. Things change. People change. We used to produce newspapers every day, but now... Now we deliver two or three papers per week. You should make do with that.”

The man tried to protest, and they got in an argument. She ended up slamming the door on him. He went home. The next day, he received a newspaper, even though it was on an “off” day.

An off day, he thought to himself? I bought a subscription to a daily newspaper! What is this?

In time, the newspaper dwindled to once per week. Then once per month. Eventually, he was lucky to get a paper at all.

This was all very frustrating for him, of course, but a funny thing happened while he was not receiving his newspaper regularly: He replaced that part of his morning routine with a book of crossword puzzles he found at the bookstore. It wasn’t quite the same as his daily paper, but over time, it didn’t much matter anymore. The newspaper company wasn’t delivering a daily paper. No matter how frustrating it was, he had to accept it. Truth be told, he didn’t really even know if they were still charging him for the paper. The crossword puzzles were good enough for a morning routine. He adjusted. Life went on.

One morning, on a lark, he decided to go out for a morning jog. On his way out the door, he saw the paperboy. He had the morning paper in his hands. The paperboy said, “Hey, mister, I’ve got your paper, here you go.”

“No thanks,” said the man. “I’m going out for a jog.”

“You can read it when you get home,” said the paperboy.

“I know,” said the man, “but I won’t read it. I’m jogging today. I do crossword puzzles on the other days.”

“Well, what should I do with it?” Asked the paperboy.

The man gave the boy a puzzled frown. “I don’t really know.” He beeped on his watch and started off on his jog. “And I don’t much care,” he thought.

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