Christmas spirit helps postal customers cope Mail: By lengthening its hours and shortening employees' lunch breaks, the Glen Burnie post office is aiming to move its lines as quickly as possible.

December 17, 1997|By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan | Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan,SUN STAFF

At Glen Burnie's perennially crowded post office, the scene yesterday did not seem incredibly different from the norm.

Cars maneuvered about the crammed lot, and the line inside snaked all the way to the door as people patiently waited, some carefully balancing boxes big and small. Resigned customers blamed the yuletide for the long wait this time.

"It's just part of life when it gets to this time of year," said Bill Curlett, a Glen Burnie driver who stopped by at 11 a.m. to mail a business document for his wife.

"It's no worse than tax time, I guess," he said.

Glen Burnie Postmaster William Pratesi said the Christmas season usually brings about 1,000 to 1,500 people to his post office daily. Normally, the number of customers is about 700.

Even though it is the busiest postal season -- other busy periods are tax time and the days before Valentine, Mother's and Father's days -- Pratesi said he tries to keep lines moving as quickly as possibly by lengthening the post office's operation hours and shortening his clerks' lunch breaks. Through Christmas Eve, he said, weekday hours will be extended until 6 p.m., and the post office will be open Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

Pratesi said he's noticed that more people are rushing to mail their packages at a later date.

"I think it's because of our priority mail ads on TV," he said. "They're quite catchy and people see that we can deliver priority mail in two to three days, so they'll wait to mail parcels."

He said the fact that Christmas is on a Thursday this year has also contributed to the procrastination.

"If Christmas falls on a later day of the week, people think they have more time to mail everything out," Pratesi said.

Mark Glase of Glen Burnie said he was surprised at how fast the line moved.

"This post office never has enough help, but they did today," he said, happily sticking stamps onto Christmas cards. "They're prepared."

Even if it had been slow, Glase said, he wouldn't have minded.

"And you have to decorate your cards with stickers," he said, showing off his stack of decorated envelopes.

Ray McCreary, a retired county police officer from Glen Burnie, was less happy with the display of efficiency. He came armed with a hand-held electronic poker game that he takes to places where he expects long waits.

"I'm upset," he joked, shutting off his poker game as a clerk beckoned him to step up. "I've been here twice this week, and I haven't had the chance to play."

Pub Date: 12/17/97

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