The downtown U.S. Post Office shipping deadlines are pictured. This week the busiest week of the year for the postal service. Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff
December 20, 2017 11:02:02 AM
Lucy Wilson stood in a line that easily stretched to double digits at the post office on Bluecutt Road Monday, chatting happily with the people around her at the beginning of the post office's busiest week of the year.
"I'm getting all my stamps to send my Christmas cards," she said. "I had about 10 left."
She's late sending the Christmas cards this year, but she didn't let the long line get to her. She lives close enough to the post office and thinks the postal employees behind the counter are polite enough that she doesn't dread the trip.
A few people behind her in line was Frieda Deddo, who was sending a last-minute Christmas present to her daughter in Wilmington, Illinois. Deddo didn't really wait until the last minute -- she sent her daughter money a few weeks ago, but her daughter used it to buy Deddo's Christmas present.
"Now I'm sending her another one," Deddo said with a shrug.
Despite the length of the line, which was at least 10 or 12 people at a time, Wilson, Deddo and the other shoppers were in good spirits -- a relief to Postmaster Reba Jenkins, who oversees the post office locations in Columbus.
"It's crazy this time of year," said Jenkins, who said there are 34-36 carriers out at any given time.
According to a press release from the United States Postal Service, the week before Christmas is the department's busiest week out of the year as Americans send out their Christmas cards and ship last-minute gifts. Today is the last day the Post Office recommends shipping priority mail in the continental U.S. if the senders want it to arrive by Dec. 25 -- though, as Jenkins pointed out, packages shipped via Express can be shipped through Friday.
"We've got every carrier we can get in and even the substitutes ... are coming in early at six a.m. and carrying parcels before we start carrying the mail," Jenkins said.
With the rising popularity of Amazon and online shopping, package volumes have increased since Jenkins became postmaster in the early 1990s.
"We're expecting 15 billion pieces of mail and packages that's going to be delivered nationally between Thanksgiving and New Year's," Jenkins said. "That's kind of a 10 percent increase nationally in package volume from what it was last year."
Anywhere from 2,000-6,000 of those packages come through the Columbus offices per day, she said, traveling along one of the 16 city routes or 16 rural routes in the area.
"We've had up to around 6,000 or so just on one day on Mondays," she said.
With those numbers, the long lines are to be expected, Jenkins said, though that doesn't make standing in line any easier.
But Wilson said she doesn't let that upset her. After all, it's the holidays, she said.
"It's going to happen," she said about waiting in line. "Why be upset?"
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