NEWS

Post offices see busiest mailing day of year

Bruce Rushton

There’s still plenty of time.

But you wouldn’t know it from lines at Springfield's Wabash Avenue post office on Monday, traditionally the busiest mailing day of the year.

“I’m hoping he will get his things by Christmas,” said Patricia Weitekamp, who half-carried, half-dragged a plastic garbage bag filled with boxes stuffed with pumpkin bread, chewy cherry bars, date rolls and other calories for her son in North Carolina.

Relax, Patricia.

Although the delivery-by-Christmas deadline was Friday for packages sent parcel post, packages shipped by Priority Mail, for a few dollars more, will arrive in time. They’ll arrive in time, in fact, if sent on Thursday, the post office promises.

And the post office absolutely, positively guarantees delivery by Christmas for Express Mail sent Saturday. Letter carriers will be working on Christmas Day to make it happen, although, at $16.10 for a letter, it isn’t cheap.

Bolormaa Bold doesn’t want to spend that kind of money.

She spent about 15 minutes in line Monday to send presents to relatives in Mongolia (don’t tell anyone, but they’re getting clothes).

“It’s late now,” said Bold, who figures the gifts will arrive in about two weeks.

At mid-morning, the line stretched from the counter out to the lobby and nearly to the door, provoking a few “Oh my goodnesses” from new arrivals. But no one was complaining.

Stephanie Phillips spent 20 minutes waiting to mail a gift to her brother in California.

Why did she pick the busiest mailing day of the year?

“Because I didn’t buy it until yesterday,” Phillips said.

Typical.

The busiest mailing day of the year is always the Monday after the last weekend before Christmas, which is usually the busiest shopping weekend of the year, said Joanne Veto, spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Service. Wednesday – surprise -- will be the busiest delivery day of the year, if history holds true.

“Funny how that works,” Veto said.

The postal service expected to handle nearly 1 billion pieces of mail on Monday, about 300 million more letters and packages than on a typical day. Ever the optimist, Veto said Christmas in Mongolia, at least for Bold’s family, might arrive on time, considering that today is the last recommended day to get mail to overseas military installations before the holiday.

“I would say she’s got a pretty good shot,” Veto said.

Bruce Rushton can be reached at (217) 788-1542 or bruce.rushton@sj-r.com.