Christmas gets a big send-off at post offices
Long lines snaked out of Hawaii's post offices yesterday, the busiest mailing day of the year across the country.
Postal workers tried to speed the lines by helping customers with their problems before they reached the service counter, said Duke Gonzales, spokesman for the state's postal service. He estimated 8 million pieces of mail were processed yesterday, a 30 percent increase over the average daily amount.
Gonzales said Dec. 17 is the heaviest mailing day throughout the United States because it is the "last suggested day for priority and first-class mail" if senders want their packages to arrive by Christmas.
Gonzales said 275 temporary workers were hired to handle the Christmas rush, and with their help "the lines move very, very quickly."
At Ala Moana Center, one of Hawaii's top three busiest post offices (along with the airport and downtown branches), supervisor Kanani Alos said things were moving smoothly. Counter clerks were successful in keeping the wait under five minutes. "These guys are very fast," she said.
Alos was helping people fill out forms as they waited in line, pulling aside those who needed help in packaging their items. When people see this, "at least they know we're trying," she added.
Alos assisted Jimmy Reyes and Darlene Cruz of Makiki, who were deciding whether to ship two boxes to Guam via express service as opposed to regular mail, which would not be guaranteed to arrive by Christmas. They were taping up 2-by-3-foot boxes containing toy trucks for their godchildren.
Cruz said although it would be expensive to mail the items, "this is the perfect gift. ... It would be worth it -- that's how much they mean to us."
John Yamashita of Makiki stood at the end of a line behind 30 people with his arms full of boxes and accompanied by his two children, each carrying items for mailing. "It's not too bad. It's moving," he said.