The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


The Lone Contractor

photo courtesy of Google Images

Newspapers (photo courtesy of Google Images)

It’s 47 degrees outside on a spring night in March, definitely not the chilliest night of the year, but cold enough.  The task that lies ahead for 22-year-old Marc Nieto would be no easy one for many people his age, having to pry himself away from his friends on a Friday night in Dallas in order to commute to McKinney, a suburb thirty minutes north.  Not to mention that it’s nearly one in the morning. 

He does this every weekend, and he’s never able to stay before the night ends because his job’s hours just won’t allow him to.  You see, Marc is an independent contractor whose hours span from 2-8 a.m. on Saturday mornings and from 12-4 a.m. on Sundays. 


“I don’t know how you do it man, you really need to quit that job,” Nick, Marc’s roommate, says with his speech a tad slurred.


“That job is pretty weak,” Peter, another one of Marc’s friends, chimes in.


“You know this is how I get paid son, see y’all,” Marc says while he waves his goodbyes to everyone else and leaves without a fuss.


Leaving Milo’s, a bar on SMU Boulevard, and having managed to drink nothing while his friends are borderline drunk, Marc hops in his Red Dodge Ram pickup truck and heads off.  Sometimes Marc is able to slink away from his friends earlier and take a quick nap before he starts his job, but not tonight.


Turning on the radio, Marc listens to one of the CD’s he recently burned for trips such as these.  He hasn’t had the time to go buy an audio jack for his tape deck to play music on his iPhone, so the CD’s will have to do.  Recently, he’s a discovered a new artist that he’s taken a liking to named “The Weeknd”, and skips to track number two.  The song is called “What You Need”, a dark but soothing R&B ballad that might put another person driving in the middle of the night to sleep.  But Marc manages.  The song seems to take his mind off of things as he sings along quietly, slowly nodding his head to the beat.  The ride is somewhat long, and the windows reveal a land outside that gets more and more rural by the minute.


 After a time, Marc arrives at the main distribution center for the Dallas Morning News in McKinney.  The center, which used to be located downtown some years past, is where Marc begins these long weekend nights.  As an independent contractor, he is the partial owner of a contract that he describes as basically the same thing as a paper route. But instead of delivering to houses, his job requires him to visit, unload, and deliver the papers to about 50 stores in the McKinney area. 

He and his boss, a man by the name of Franklin Cortez, are in charge of the distribution of the weekend edition of the Dallas Morning News.  Cortez hands him $475 in cash upfront.  For the amount of work and delivery Marc’s going to be doing, he definitely deserves it. 

Before he can make the delivery however, Marc and his boss have to put the papers together.  Each one comes in 4-5 different sections that they have to construct themselves, and on average this means putting together nearly 2600 papers a weekend, broken up over two nights worth of work.  The process can take hours, but usually Marc finishes in two.

There are the Saturday morning early editions, and official Sunday morning editions, which make up the bulk of the papers that need to be delivered. Marc, who is provided with a U-Haul to lug around the papers, works for the Dallas Morning News.  And that will continue to be the case as long as he and his boss are willing to be the cheapest providers.  As independent contractors, they bid for the sole right to provide papers and to deliver them within a certain city.  Usually, whichever contractor can do the job for the least money in a certain area, wins. 

After the papers are done being carefully assembled, Marc loads them into the truck and starts his journey through the night.  The radio is still on, serving as his only form of entertainment during an otherwise dreary and arduous collection of hours.  “The Weeknd” has been changed out in favor of something a little more upbeat, presented in a mix of “Wiz Khalifa” tunes.  Nothing too loud, or in your face, just chill beats and a melodic flow.

The first stop of what has now become more of an early morning than a late night is, Wal-Mart.  Marc prefers to stop at the bigger stores first because this is how contractors get the bigger orders out of the way.  But these types of deliveries are the more laborious ones. 

Taking more than a few minutes to unload, and quietly muttering to himself about future back problems, Marc manages to place about 300 papers into the newsstands at the front of the Wal-Mart and leaves an invoice for the store as to how many there are.  On to the next one.

Next stop is Kroger’s where he unloads another hundred papers, leaves another invoice and moves right along. After that, he travels to 7-Eleven, then Walgreens, CVS, Albertsons, another CVS and so on through the morning. But Marc treks right along, his music now blaring. 

The once desolate streets are now stirring with morning movement since it is 6:30 a.m. at this point.  Marc’s eyes now look heavy and a little red, but there are no signs of him dozing off.  He’s been doing this job for years and tonight had brought him nothing he hadn’t seen or done before.

The last stop of the night is a small store called Market Street.  Marc repeats the unloading process that has become so repetitive and strenuous at this point, placing his last 60 papers in the stand.  The job’s finished. 

Now he’ll go home, sleep through most of the day, and start the process again at midnight.  This is the life of an independent contractor.

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