17 April 2006

Tax Day Mail Service.

I've lived in Denver long enough to become familiar with the annual ritual of delivering a tax return to a late night post office on the due date. Something clearly went horribly, awfully wrong this year. Contrary to what several people had believed and a newspaper article implied, the 255 S. Broadway post office was not open until 10 p.m. (the doors were locked) although perhaps the pickup from the boxes there would be later than usual, and apparently this wasn't the only place this happened. The scene at the downtown post office, which was opened late, was even more odd.

The usual lobby was shut, and while postal employees seemed to be everywhere, only two were selling stamps and postmarking certified letters, and they were operating out of a truck in the parking lot in front of a seemingly perfectly functional brick and mortar post office. Credit cards were not accepted at the mobile post office. The post office vending machine inside was quoting a price of $13+ to mail a certified letter that should have cost ten dollars less. The only place you could find a certified mail form was hidden in shadows at the front of the line, rather than at the back where people could complete them at the back of the line while waiting. And, several people were sorting mail in the open air in front of the post office, in view of TV cameras, for no terribly compelling reason. I have no idea what went wrong this year. Perhaps a long time Denver postmaster was replaced or something, but the U.S.P.S. had no clue this year.

This echos the generally deteriorating late night service in Denver. Now, the only place in town you can go to mail a letter after seven p.m. is the warehouse districts North of Stapleton. Again, the question is why we have deteriorating late night postal service in a city that is increasingly a twenty-four hour operation?

Thankfully, Mayor Hickenlooper and the director of parking control, at least, apparently saw fit to turn down the heat in the vicinity of the post office on this particular night (an area where enforcement is usually ruthless). Hurray for small favors.

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