I know there is some controversy regarding the post office. But here's what it does. It takes my mail, no matter what, and for a very reasonable and reliable price, delivers it by hand. And as we hunker down for our first big snow, just remember the unofficial mission of the PO.
Inscribed on the general post office facility on 33rd Street and 8th Avenue in New York City is, "Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night, stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."
I know others who share my intense fondness for the post office as an institution. Nancy Bird, who frequents Shorewood, says the post office makes her feel safe.
"I don’t go to church," she said, "but I love going to the post office. I feel a connection to the rest of the world when I’m there."
So here’s the quick guide for your 2012 holiday shipping season for those who are going for the annual in-person visit, and aren’t mailing everything at work, or online with the tracking app (though once you mail your package, this is easy to do for the PO, UPS, and FedEx).
Shorewood PO across from Shorewood High School: Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday 8:30 a.m. to noon. Three tellers, kinda surly, small space, long wait, limited and treacherous parking, no drive-up mailbox. Perk: walkable. Extra points: Walk through a blizzard with your parcels, evoke an "awww" from passer-bys.
Best uses: Buying stamps, mailing cards, (not packages). Also, it seems to be passport week. Like shark week, only slower. Said Steph Davies, Shorewood business owner, “Bring a book.”
Danger: Mike N., an employee at Bayshore, said driving past the Shorewood PO as “just an accident waiting to happen.” Which is telling given that he was in the parking lot at Trader Joe’s. A resident recently did have her car stolen while leaving it running to mail a card in the box, so lock up.
Hint: If you’re just dropping off mail, check out the earlier pickup time mailbox in Shorewood is at Walgreen’s in Shorewood — pickup 1 p.m. Then you can entertain yourself with my favorite item I got this year for myself there — the talking French Mistletoe.
Lydell PO: (Glendale/Whitefish Bay) Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Saturday 9a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Open layout inside, four tellers, cheery, line moves quickly, more information and supplies plus greeting cards; good stamp availability, automated service machine, extra workspace, place to rest heavy boxes while in line, 38 parking spaces, large drive-up mailboxes, sliding doors, short walk to entrance. In five minutes at 11:45 a.m. on Tuesday, I counted 50 cars using the drive-up mailboxes.
Dangers: Parking lot is full of cars backing up at you without looking. Losing parts off your car involuntarily, such as bumpers, appears to be common (see photo).
Tip: Seriously, this is the inside scoop from customer Liz Phillips of Whitefish Bay who’s been there 22 years. Park in Kohl’s lot on Lydell just next to PO and save your car and your sanity.
Downtown P.O., 345 St Paul: Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., no weekends. All mail for the area gets sorted here first, so you get ahead if you use this location, even these drive-through mailboxes. Inside, there is a wide range of humanity from the row of tellers to the automated machine near the door. A letters to Santa mailbox here as well if you bring the kids. Parking lot is underground, and a little wacky.
UPS Store in Shorewood: Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Nice guys, local business, good for packages especially those that are heavy or need expertise in packing. Nice easy parking at the door, with greeting and a nice color copier. Online account and label will cut your costs if you’re just dropping off.
FedEx options: FedEx Ground is the most cost effective if you’re shipping far and decided to make granola and send bricks along with it. Get an account online, and prep your boxes so they’re ready to go, as Fedex Kinkos employees are busy making photo books and laminating posters as well.
Port Washington Location: Easily park in back, automatic doors in front, quick drop.
Danger: Little kids will enjoy fleeing out those auto doors on to Port Washington Blvd.
Bonus: It’s next to Kopp’s (per Shorewood’s own John O’Hara).
Brady Street Location: Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday/Sunday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.: Park in back, drag packages to hard-to-open door, jubilant/caffeinated atmosphere. Plenty of copying opportunities, packing supplies.
Tip: Lock your doors, and good luck finding a half-smoked cigarette — there are already people picking those up.
Happy Shipping! May you keep your sanity, finish your book, and send smiles around the globe this year.