Each week, distribution drivers deliver some 85,000 copies of SN&R all over the Sacramento region, from Davis to Placerville, Elk Grove to Auburn. Ron Forsberg, who retired in the early ’90s but was “bored,” is one of SN&R’s longest-tenured drivers and has been running routes for more than 15 years. Currently, Forsberg delivers SN&R in south Sacramento, where he’s a familiar face for many on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Here’s his story.
What kind of car do you roll in?
A 2001 Odyssey; it’s a van. I deliver to about 200 or so stops.
And you’ve been doing the same route—SN&R’s largest—for 15 years?
Oh no, no. When I first started, I went down Sunrise [Boulevard] from Power Inn [Road] all the way out to Folsom Boulevard, back to Sunrise, and then this and that off of Sunrise, then come back into Rancho [Cordova], then back down Folsom toward downtown.
What’s changed over the years?
More traffic. But it depends when you leave. If I leave at 9:30 [a.m.], I get past McClatchy [High School] and shoot straight through south. And now parking is awful, too. And more speed traps. Highway Patrol is patrolling down near Meadowview; I kept running into the same car four times recently. The last time, I was going down 24th Street and I could see red lights behind me, but he sped right past.
What’s the weirdest thing that’s happened to you?
How long does it take to do your routes?
Both routes take about 11 to 12 hours.
If I start at 9 [a.m.], I can do nine [hours] and then the next day do Thursday’s route up and down Freeport [Boulevard], then do Sutterville [Road], hit places there, then do Franklin [Boulevard]. I knock off a bunch up to Florin Road, then do Greenhaven and come back through Land Park.
What do people say about SN&R?
Most of the ladies are pretty happy, jumping up and down. “The paper! I’m a big fan.” … Some older ladies, like at the La Bou on Land Park [Drive], are grandmas. “You’re too young to read this paper,” I say. And they laugh.
Any strange things happen?
Last week, somebody stole two bundles from me.
They must have liked the hip-hop story.
I left them on the edge of the sliding door, and I went in and came out, and a guy was running down the street with two of them.
I run into a lady on Stockton Boulevard and she asks, “You want to party tonight?” And I say, “I’ve got no money.”
Are you married?
How long have you been retired?
I think since ’92, ’94.
So why still work?
I enjoy meeting the people and meeting a cross section of Americana. You see the same people over and over again. You know the stops. People get to know that you’re coming. And if you go on vacation sometimes, they always let you know that they still want to get their paper. There’s still a lot of people who’re excited when the paper comes.
Do you read the paper?
I don’t read it until I get home, and I generally look at the restaurant review.
What do you think of the new guy?
He’s not the same as Kate [Washington]. It’s just a little different style of writing. And she had reviewed about seven or eight of my places on my stops, so that was nice. I mean, I had some hole in the walls that she wrote about!
Do any covers stand out over the years?
No, not really. The ones that always do well are the ones that have something to do with sex.
That, and the colors sometimes have an effect. Like the last Best of Sacramento issue. There was nothing left over; there was just a thin pile in the recycling bin.
What do you think people like to read?
Well, I think they read the Op-Ed stories, and stuff you don’t find in the [Sacramento] Bee.
Well, like [a few weeks ago], the lady who lost her job at KVIE, channel 6. You wouldn’t see that in the Bee. Little stories like that that are interesting to read.
Do you think newspapers are going to disappear?
I mean, the Internet’s taking over, but they might start charging to read things on the Internet, too. I don’t know.
But I think there’ll always be paper. People will want something in their hands to read. I talk to different people who say, “Well, you can read it on the screen,” but it’s harder to read on there than to have it in your hand and look at it.
Do you read online?
No. But now they’re going to start charging us for the TV Guide. I bet you Cosmo [Garvin’s] going to write about that.
What’s the best thing about this job?
The Christmas parties. Especially the Hawaiian Christmas party they had; that one was great.