Americans, Too Busy to Do Errands, Read About Them Instead

Recently it dawned on the Most Post that there are plenty of people out there who like to read about gofers -- human gofers.

(An occasional look at the most popular, most blogged, and most emailed stories on the Web.)

Recently it dawned on the Most Post that there are plenty of people out there who like to read about gofers. Not the vermin gophers, mind you, but rather human gofers — professional errand runners who make a living doing such things as dropping off others’ dry cleaning and picking up their groceries.

To wit: last week, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times both published trendy features chronicling the expansion of the personal concierge industry.

“The rich and famous have long understood the value of hiring people to handle their chores,” wrote Cynthia H. Cho in the Times. “They call them servants or, in Hollywood, personal assistants. But now regular people are doing the math and increasingly are outsourcing life’s tedious tasks to an army of small businesses.”

“Errand-running businesses base themselves on the lifestyles of the affluent,” wrote Cecilia Kang in the Post. “They call themselves personal concierges, gofers and lifestyle managers.”

By mid-week, both stories had landed on the most-viewed lists of their respective papers. So what’s with the burgeoning interest in gofer lit?

“It’s a hot new trend,” says Katharine Giovanni, a concierge training expert and chairwoman of the International Concierge and Errand Association. “Everybody is trying to squeeze 36 hours into a 24 day.”

That includes harried feature writers in need of a willing subject. Gofers to the rescue! Giovanni says that she receives calls from reporters “all the time,” and that she typically steers them to a free article on her Web site which explains concierge services from A to Z. “A lot of reporters like that article because they can just cut and paste,” says Giovanni. “You don’t have to recreate the wheel.”

For journalists feeling, um, overworked, gofers can also help out in other ways. “They’ll bring dinner to you when you’re working late at the office,” says Giovanni. “They’ll buy your groceries for you and put them in your car. The concierge will do anything in the yellow pages that is legal.”

Even transcribe an interview?

“Absolutely,” says Giovanni.

Consider the Most Post officially won over. Hopefully, all those readers who catapulted the gofer stories to the most-read lists will follow through and hire errand runners for themselves so that they’ll have more time for the important things in life. Relaxing with family. Going to the gym. And spending more quality time at work, reading articles on the Internet about gofers.

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Felix Gillette writes about the media for The New York Observer.