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Postal patrons keep clerks busy

December 21, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Judy Hall was one of millions of people nationwide who on Monday sent off letters and packages through the U.S. Postal Service.

Hall, 61, of Hagerstown, said she was concerned about getting Christmas cards to her mother, her granddaughter and two friends on time.

"These are a little late," Hall said, placing stamps on her cards at the post office on West Franklin Street in Hagerstown.

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Mail officials said Monday was expected to be the busiest mailing day for the postal service. Wednesday is expected to be the busiest delivery day.

Hall sent out cards last week, but she ran out of holiday stamps. With only antique-car stamps available, she said, she stopped in the post office Sunday to pick up seasonal stamps. None were available.

"As soon as I got off work (Monday), I came to the post office," Hall said. She found what she was looking for and dropped the cards in a slot at the post office.

According to information from the postal service's Baltimore office, officials expected to handle 280 million cards and letters nationally Monday. The local district offices - Hagerstown included - were expected to handle about 4 million letters and 500,000 packages Monday, about double the usual amount.

Bruce Rice, a route supervisor at the post office in Hagerstown, said Monday that the projections seemed reasonable.

"Today is pretty busy on our (clerk) window. We have a lot of traffic coming in with our customers," Rice said.

Rice didn't know where the package count stood, but including incoming and outgoing mail, he said 4 million letters seemed pretty close.

"That's not too far off" from the expected local volume, Rice said.

Rice said the Hagerstown office has beefed up its number of employees to meet the expected volumes. The clerks' window was fully staffed and there were extra people to help with delivery.

Employees are "making sure everybody gets their mail, and especially this time of year, people are looking for their Christmas gifts," Rice said.

The postal service's job is to "get it home and get it delivered," he said.

While the load was expected to be heavy, one customer said it didn't appear that crowds were too large.

Edna Riedesel, 33, said she is in town visiting family in Hagerstown, and on Monday she was mailing a large box at the post office on West Franklin Street. There were about a half-dozen people in line before her.

Riedesel said the package contained items she sold in an online auction. She knew at least one - a refrigerator magnet - was supposed to be a Christmas gift. She said she had been ready for a heavy crowd at the post office.

"I had been expecting to stand in line for a long time, but it doesn't look like it's going to be bad at all," Riedesel said.

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