With Tuesday, Dec. 15, marking the final day for standard mail to be guaranteed to reach its destination by Christmas morning, a steady stream of visitors kept the line at the Westminster post office about a dozen customers deep for the entire lunchtime rush Monday afternoon.
The U.S. Postal Service projected Monday, Dec. 14, to be the busiest day for mailing and shipping, as people rush to have their holiday gifts and cards sent in time. Yvette Singh, media contact with the Maryland office of the USPS said the projection was made by looking at the history of mailings throughout the year and determining when people are most likely to step out to their local office. Singh said two weeks before Christmas is routinely the most busy week of the holiday season, and of the entire year, with the first Monday coming in as the most popular date.
At the Westminster office, people dropped off collections of Christmas cards and daily mail, but most were coming through the door with arms full of large packages, seeming like disguised Santas, ready to ship off gifts across the country.
Marci Lenick, of Westminster, waited in line with what she said was the largest package she's ever sent, heading to Minneapolis for her son's Christmas celebration. This is the first year he won't be celebrating the holidays at home, and she said she wanted to make sure it was there in time for Christmas.
"I'm actually surprised it isn't even more crowded here," Lenick said. "I made sure I came in after lunch time to beat the rush."
According to Singh, the post office has recruited additional workers, including office staff and extra letter carriers, for the holiday season to ensure everyone's cards and packages are arriving in time. In Westminster, all four spots behind the counter were staffed and taking customers, as another post office employee sold stamps and took prepaid packages in a second, shorter line located in a facsimile of Lucy's psychiatrist stand from "Peanuts."
The office was decked out in "Peanuts" memorabilia, from decorations, to stamps, to boxes and envelopes, celebrating "A Charlie Brown Christmas' " 50th anniversary this year. In addition to the employees behind the counter, one worker went around the office, offering to help those who didn't have to wait in line use the self-service machine.
Brenda Middleton, of Westminster, took her six Christmas packages directly to the self-service machine, printing off labels, paying for postage and dropping them into the slot without waiting in line. Middleton said she uses the self-service machine two to three times a week for her small business.
"I'll use the machine, even if there's no line. It's just convenient for me," Middleton said. "I try to come after hours to make life even easier. You just pop in and back out again."
In addition to the increase for in-person visits to the post office, the USPS also anticipates Dec. 14 to be the busiest day online as well, with more than 7 million customers using the organization's website.
Wendy Dow, of Westminster, who is sending packages to Massachusetts and Virginia, said she likes the in-person experience of going to the post office, rather than shopping online and just having presents delivered automatically to their destination.
"I like buying in person," Dow said. "I'm not the savviest person when it comes to using the computer. I can do a little bit, but it's easier to come here. You've got to be ready for that Christmas rush."
Latest Carroll County News