Thursday, October 17, 2019


Dear Readers,
A rare pictu
         It’s scary in the dark when a North Wester could be battering your windows with sheets of rain or the South Easter is threatening to blow just about everything away. Not to worry you’ll still get it.
         They didn’t call this part of the world the Cape of Storms for nothing.
         You probably will never have seen how your paper arrives, but when you wake up in the morning it will be in your driveway, just like clockwork no matter how foul the weather is.
         If you are a newspaper subscriber in Cape Town’s Southern suburbs you will have experienced that mystifying miracle daily or at week ends.
         Ten years ago Shaheid Alexander gave up his conventional job as an administrative assistant at the Cape Town City Council for a will-o`-the-wisp existence of sleepless nights delivering papers.
         He starts his night at around 10.30 p.m. and doesn’t get back to his home in Mitchells Plain until four or five in the morning. He and his team of two deliver Business Day and the Financial Mail during the week and the Sunday Times, Economist and the Financial Times at the week-ends.
         It’s a 30 km drive from his home to the industrial area of Paarden Eiland where they collect the papers and that’s before he even starts his delivery round to customers spread across suburbs from St James to Noordhoek, Fish Hoek and Simonstown.  
         Shaheid alone travels something like 200 km a night. He is constantly haunted by the Fourth Industrial Revolution that is threatening to eliminate printed papers. His team was also delivering The Times, a daily that was an offshoot of the Sunday Times, but when that went digital only two years ago the two drivers who work for him lost out to some degree. They only deliver the Sunday Times at the week-ends now to more than 300 homes.
         They get paid per copy as well as a transport allowance. Shops are not on their route as they only deal with subscribers.
         My wife and I have been getting our Sunday Times delivered to our home in Kommetjie ever since we arrived here 10 years ago and before The Times ceased being printed we got that every day during the week as well.
         It was uncanny the way Shaheid’s service was virtually faultless. On the rare occasions that our paper didn’t arrive as expected due to something  beyond his control I would phone the Sunday Times’ Cape Town office and low and behold within an hour or so we had it.
         A couple of Sunday’s ago there was no paper, but not long after I phoned Shaheid was ringing the bell at our gate. He had driven the 30 km from his home just to bring us our Sunday Times.
         It was the first time I had ever set eyes on our mystery paper man.
         “I have to see to my clients,” he told me. “They come first.”
         Aged 57 he is married with three grown up children and four grandchildren.
         “We don’t meet our clients, but I love this job,” he said. And it certainly shows in the way he does it.
         His parting words to me were: “It was nice to be of service to you, Sir.”
         You could not get a better example of a job well done.
         Thanks a million Shaheid.
         Jon, a Consumer Watchdog who finds it such a pleasure to meet a shining light like Shaheid at a time when bad service is very much the norm.  We need many, many more Shaheids. The owners of the Sunday Times are lucky to have him.
P.S. Any firm in the service industry wanting to improve its image could not do better than to get its staff to follow Shaheid’s example.    

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