Every morning, sometime between 4-5 a.m., a car pulls into my driveway and comes to a stop. After a brief pause, I hear a quiet “plop” as the New York Times lands on my front stoop. Then the car pulls away. My day has yet to start, but the woman who delivered the paper has already been at work for a few hours. And she has more papers to deliver.

Eager to learn about the life of the woman behind the paper, I decided to meet with Brunswick resident Tracy Young, who has delivered my NY Times every day for 12 years, never missing a delivery, always with good cheer. Moreover, she’s never bungled a request to stop delivery — and then restart — when we’re out of town.

Tracy’s typical day is slightly different from yours or mine. She wakes up every morning at 2 a.m. (after having gone to bed at 7 p.m. the night before); picks up the papers (110 New York Times and 25 Boston Globes) sometime between 2:30-3 a.m.. After putting the papers in plastic bags, she drives about 72 miles every day to deliver them, finishing sometime around 6:30 a.m. (The task takes longer on Sundays when there are 300 NY Times and 50 Globes.)

Whew! Time for Tracy to go back to bed, right? Well, not exactly. This wonder woman then tackles her full-time day job: hiring and supervising about 25 paper deliverers at The Times Record, a position she’s held for nearly 20 years.

Tracy smiles as she describes her extraordinary work day. “Every day is different, and that keeps it interesting.” Her NY Times deliveries usually go smoothly, although sometimes the papers come late, which puts her behind schedule. “My customers are really nice,” she says, and that’s not surprising given her reliability. She even spends a few minutes to chat with one appreciative customer in Thornton Oaks who often greets her in the hallway in the early morning hours.

Finding and retaining reliable drivers represents the main challenge in her Times Record job. “It’s hard to find young people to do routes,” she says, noting that most of the drivers are adults. And when a driver can’t do a route for one reason or another on any. Given day, it falls on Tracy to drive the route. “I know every driver’s route,” she says with a laugh.

Clearly, Tracy Young is “old school,” the kind of person who does what needs to be done with nary a whimper or complaint. She took care of her bedridden mother, for example, for eight years, a task made even more difficult because of her mother’s stubborn refusal to eat.

“It’s amazing what people can do when they have to do it,” she says.  Happily, for customers such as myself who like the feel of a real paper, Tracy has no plans to retire any time soon. I came away from our meeting even more impressed with her strong dedication and buoyant spirit. I also gained renewed appreciation for all people who, through their lives and their work, make each day a little brighter for those around them. That’s a rare gift.

(NOTE: It’s perhaps fitting in a piece about a newspaper deliverer that this is the 200th column I’ve written for the “Just a Little Old” column. Thanks to all the readers who’ve taken the time to read and to comment and to The Times Record for giving me the space to share some thoughts.)

David Treadwell, a Brunswick writer, welcomes commentary and suggestions for future “Just a Little Old” columns. [email protected]

Comments are not available on this story.