Thursday, May 7, 2009

How the May Issue Hit the Street

Distribution is an essential part of BMC News. A portion of the papers are mailed via Canada Post to most of Boyle Street, while the rest are delivered by our block carriers in McCauley. For the past several months, thanks to a very dedicated volunteer, distribution has been very smooth.

We expected that this month would be the same as all the others: he would go in his van to the distribution centre to pick up the paper in his van. Then, he would take the papers to his garage where he would bag, label, and sort the papers, before loading them back into his van. Finally, he and I hit the road to the neighbourhood to mail the Boyle Street papers and bring the rest to the homes of our valued block carriers.

Alas, this month it was not to be. The paper was picked up, bagged, labeled, sorted, and loaded as per usual. However, after driving a mere couple of blocks we heard a bizarre popping sound coming from under the van, followed by a sound similar to a tin can scraping the ground. We drove the van back to his place. Although we could not visibly see anything wrong, we knew better than to continue to drive a vehicle with an unknown mechanical problem. Therefore, distribution was temporarily halted.

Fortunately, I do have several people on backup. However, Colleen, our industrious co-Volunteer Coordinator was at work. And Tim, a co-chair extraordinnaire, was out of town on a meditation retreat. Not to be discouraged, I called Kylee, Tim's daughter and a good friend of mine. She was home with her three children -- and mini-van. I was ever so grateful that she was able to come scooting along, children in tow. We packed up the papers for the post office, and took care of the Boyle mailout that afternoon.

Kylee was gracious enough to let us use her van the following afternoon. So, my ever-faithful volunteer took a bus to get to her house, drove back to the west end where we live, unloaded his van and loaded up Kylee's, got me, and off we went to McCauley for an afternoon of delivery goodness. It was not without challenges - the driver's side door would not open, but my friend easily fixed it. Good thing, since his knees don't bend well enough to keep crawling in from the passenger's side.

We also were puttering along at one point, which we assumed was due to overheating. Not good, since the afternoon was relatively cool. After breaking for lunch, the problem remained, and we barely got to the Mohawk station on 97 street to put some gas in the tank - which seemed to take care of the problem. The gas gauge must have been faulty since it was not showing as empty, and putting only $20 worth of gas in the tank raised the gauge quite a bit. Which it should not have, according to my friend who is far more mechanical than I.

In the end, everything turned out all right. The papers reached their destinations, Kylee's van has a fixed door and $20 of gas added to it, and I can focus on working on the June issue. Once again, our wonderful volunteers came through. We just would not be able to function as a newspaper or organization without our volunteers.

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