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Flyer Distribution Story

Working in flyer distribution is not the first thing that comes to mind when we think of outdoor jobs, but it almost all your time is out in the weather. That's clear when we read the following entry in my Working Outside Contest.

Alan Schlesinger - Portland Oregon

I've been working as a door to door flyer distributor since 2006, for a landscaper, then branched out on the side, (with my employer's permission) distributing for my own clients as an independent contractor. For me, working outdoors has been great! Having worked in an office environment for about 15 years prior, I've found that working outdoors, whether walking or driving, is much more suited to me.
Distributing flyers, I've seen many things, such as the change of seasons, interesting neighborhoods, and even wildlife. While I don't have a single thing that really stands out among my working experiences distributing flyers, I've seen a lot of different things that often go unnoticed by most people.

I live and work in the Portland, Oregon area and, with the way the city is laid out and the fact that it is not as large as Seattle, let alone, Los Angeles, wildlife can often make it's way pretty close to the city center at times. I've seen raccoons, snakes, and even deer, right in the middle of suburban neighborhoods, some quite close to Downtown Portland. In one instance, I was walking, and checking to see how many flyers I had left, when I heard what sounded like someone walking in hard shoes ahead of me. I looked up to see three deer walking ahead of me, right on this suburban sidewalk. They were fairly large, though they didn't have antlers and, while they were aware of me, they still had come across the street to make their way to an open field nearby, on my side of the street. On at least a few other occasions, I've seen deer in yards. Another wildlife discovery I made is that woodpeckers can sound much like machines used in housing construction. I often come across houses being worked on and, especially in the case of roofers, I will hear the sounds that tools make. Well, the woodpeckers make a steady sound, too and, I eventually learned to recognize them, when I heard the sound and actually saw one pecking away. Squirrels, which are everywhere in the Portland area, can often sound like birds as well.

I also notice neighborhoods and the houses in them. Some are historical, dating from the 1910's, and the sidewalks are often marked at corners with the year or span of years that the sidewalk was laid down, and some of the more notable homes will have plaques or markers designating them as historic places. And, in many of these older neighborhoods, the curbs still sport the rings used to tie horses to back in the day. Also, I often find myself assessing the houses on both appearance, and their outside layout. Which do I find to be better, the oldest ones, the somewhat old ones, or the modern ones? Truth be told, I find ones I really like and ones I would never consider among all types and generations of houses. I also see how well, or not well, some houses are maintained, and how security conscious some people are and how much some ignore it altogether. I've come across both houses and cars where the keys were left in the ignition, or front doors or garage doors were wide open with no one in sight keeping any kind of watch.

Then there's the weather. I enjoy being out in it for the most part and have learned to adapt myself to it and to stay prepared for it as well. I've distributed in heat, cold, rain, and snow. Which is toughest to deal with? Overwhelmingly, when this comes up in conversation, people think it's the snow that's the worst. But no, it's extreme heat. While snow will slow me down, I have found that I do warm up in all weather, so, in winter, I can just stop for a few minutes and cool down naturally. In summer, this isn't so. And, preferring coolness to heat, I am most uncomfortable on the job when it's hot. Next would be rain. I like the rain, because it is usually cool when it rains. However, I still have to do a lot of preparation, such as wearing waterproof shoes, waterproof jacket, and a good rain hat, of which I have all three. Also, I use a plastic bag for the flyers. Rain also makes it more difficult to place the flyers if no suitable place on the door is available, since the ground is wet, thereby pinning the flyer with a rock or the morning paper becomes impractical. But, I still greatly prefer rain to heat. Snow is easier to deal with than rain, as it is less likely to soak through and can be dusted off. Also, because I was born and raised in the Los Angeles area, seeing snow 'where I live' is still quite a novelty for me, so, even if the snow slows me down, I'm always on a high when it snows. The one bad side to winter weather, both snow and rain, is that surfaces can get slippery, especially wood. Oftentimes, wooden decks and stairs are more slippery than any other surface, then, sometimes, the wood has been treated with something that makes it even more slippery! I've grown so respectful of wet wooden surfaces that I always tell myself to "Watch out for that wood!"

Financially, I haven't made much money, but just enough to get by. However, I do advertise locally on Craigslist and hope to get that dream client, that would want ongoing distribution and who doesn't mind their flyers going anywhere in the area. This way, I can distribute their flyers concurrently with my employers and any others that I distribute for my current clients.

I've had a number of clients, one ongoing, and the rest were one or two time jobs. This has helped with networking, as my ongoing client was referred to me by one of my earlier clients.

My worst experience? One client did stiff me after I distributed a day's worth of flyers. Luckily, though, he was the only client I ever had that did this. All the others were honest and up front and I can happily say that I'd certainly distribute for them again.

Thank you Alan, especially because you went into some detail (I appreciate all the stories sent in, but some are just three paragraphs, and I want to know more). Flyer distribution sounds like a job that will keep you in good shape.

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