Paper sales let student learn responsibility

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 August, 2007, 12:00am

Huang Zhibin, a 20-year-old vocational school student, grew up in a single-parent family and is spending his break trying to make money to support his mother and himself. He talks about how, as a part-time paper boy, he has to work seven days a week in the glare of Guangzhou's long, hot summer.

Do you know what the temperature is today?

Yes, the maximum will be 36.5 degrees Celsius. I read it in the newspaper.

How long has it been this hot in Guangzhou?

I heard it was a new record for the city but forgot exactly how many days it has been. Twenty days? At least more than 10 days.

So why did you become a paper boy in summer?

I know it is very hot in summer in Guangzhou, especially this year. Last week I got sunburnt, but I like this job because it does not take too much time each day. Paper boys work seven days a week, normally from 7.30am to about 11.30am. The delivery man will bring the newspapers to the section I cover and come back four hours later to collect the money. My task is to sell 35 copies a day and generally I can do that.

My family is not rich. My father died when I was only five and my mum makes a living for us by selling newspapers and magazines from which she earns about 2,000 yuan a month. I really don't want to use her money for my daily expenses because she already pays a lot for my school fees. So I must work to support myself. I'm not worried about the sunburn or standing a few hours a day. The mobile phone I have been using for more than two years was a gift from my uncle and I want to buy a new one when I can.

Did you tell your mother about wanting a new phone?

Yes, I told her that I wanted to buy a new mobile because the old one sometimes did not work well and most of my classmates change their mobiles once a year or more frequently. My mum said that if I really wanted a new one I should buy it with my own effort.

Are you happy with the job's pay?

I have been working for this newspaper for more than six months and the average monthly income is about 600 yuan. My after-tax income is 18 yuan per day, but if I can sell more than 30 copies a day, I get a commission of 0.15 yuan per copy. I think the income is OK for me because I do not need to spend too much time on the job.

Is the competition intense?

Yes, my main competitor is the paper boy from another local newspaper who covers the same area as I do. His company always offers attractive promotional gifts. A couple of weeks ago, they gave each reader a bottle of herbal tea with every newspaper they sold and I saw two boxes, 48 bottles, given out in one minute. Every time competitors offer gifts, I can't complete my quota. Now our paper also has promotional gifts, such as soaps, pens, mineral water and, once, condoms. I hope my newspaper can provide more gifts.

Is this your first part-time job?

No, I worked for a mobile phone store in the eastern suburbs for three months two years ago. I spent six to seven hours selling smuggled mobile phones and was paid 30 yuan a day. After the government closed it down, I worked at McDonald's for 13 months. The conditions were good, but the hours were still quite long. I worked six hours a day on average and once or twice a month I had to work 10 hours a day. I was paid 5.3 yuan an hour and had a free meal on Sunday.

Does the job affect your study?

Of course not. I can handle them together. I will graduate from vocational school next year. I do not know whether the new class schedule will allow me to do this job after September. I will have to quit the job if it conflicts. Nevertheless, I will find another one because I need a job and I really enjoy working. Next month I'll be able to buy my first mobile phone with my own money. I'm so proud of that.

Huang Zhibin spoke to Ivan Zhai