Washington's Five Most Fascinating Post Offices How hard is it to get some service with a smile?

Page 2 of 5

Fascinating Post Office No. 2: Northwest Station, 20015

Location: 5632 Connecticut Ave. NW

Oh, Chevy Chase! Crown jewel of Upper Northwest! Are your post offices as well-kept as your traffic circles, as exclusive as your country clubs, and as decadent as those safety flags that people use to cross Connecticut Avenue?

1. Automated Postal Center (APC)

Not since Michael killed Anna Lucia and Libby in one episode of Lost has my world been so rocked: 20015 no longer has an APC. Even worse—there’s the faint outline of an APC against the wall where the APC used to be, and someone tried to obscure the clear evidence of the missing APC with a Selective Service poster! The least 20015 could do is spring for a paint job so I don’t have to be reminded of what Bruce Springsteen called those “glory days” that “pass you by in the wink of a young girl’s eye.” After all, Benjamin Moore is right down the street.

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2. Safety Glass

I suppose it’s possible that the world’s oldest woman and her home health aide might try to knock over 20015 while pursuing this P.O.’s “Framed Art” collection, but Northwest Station’s designers did not think the senior threat palpable enough to install safety glass for its employees’ protection.

3. Prompt Service

The kind of line I like is no line at all and, during a recent visit, that was the kind of line that Northwest Station had.

4. Parking

Street parking on Connecticut Avenue is hit-or-miss, and if it’s between 7 and 9:30 a.m. or between 4 and 6:30 p.m., rush-hour restrictions are in effect and you’re basically screwed. Also, if you find a spot, it’s 25 cents for 10 minutes, a full 33.3 percent less time than the 15 minutes 25 cents buys you in most other parts of the District. Meanwhile, the spacious Magruders/Benjamin Moore parking lot is reserved for Magruders/Benjamin Moore customers, and while I’ve never been towed from this lot when illicitly parking there…well, let’s just say I’ve never contracted a water-borne illness drinking unfiltered D.C. tap water either, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. So, if you want to park in the Magruders/Benjamin Moore lot, I recommend buying some broccoli and a pint of “linen sand” semi-gloss and becoming an official customer of those fine establishments. Why tempt fate?

5. Service With a Smile

Dearest “Makeda”: I guarantee that when you cheerfully call out, “Can I help someone?” I will cheerfully reply, “Yes, you can help me, and I need 20 Forever stamps.”

6. Triflin’ Factor

Though I didn’t witness any triflin’ at Northwest Station during my visit, I’m not convinced that there isn’t any triflin’ going on. You’re telling me that some mom pushing a stroller more expensive than my car isn’t going to go buck wild on a cashier after waiting in a long line on Dec. 22 when the cashier tells her that priority mail might get that iPod to her sister in Hyannisport, Mass., in time for Christmas, but that priority mail doesn’t guarantee two-day delivery?

7. Customer Comments

“This is a good post office,” a man with an Eastern European accent informed me outside of 20015. I had peppered this fellow with numerous questions about Northwest Station, but, perhaps because of KGB training, gulag trauma, or the Russian mafia’s “zero tolerance” for alternative-weekly reporters, he had yet to offer anything quotable. The remainder of our conversation is reproduced below in

its entirety:

“Is the service good, or bad?” I prodded.

“Sometimes it is good,” the man cryptically replied. “Sometimes it is bad.”

“Where are you from?” I asked.

“Russia,” the man replied.

“Well,” I said, desperately searching for a pithy sound bite. “Is this post office at least better than a Russian post office?”

The man laughed. Then, he nodded. “Yes,” he said, and walked away.

Final Grade: Really? No APC? A solid B-.

Our Readers Say

This station doesn't just suck balls. It literally fries up the Rocky Mountain oysters. 15th in line on tax day? I question your calendaring skills as I've been 15th in line multiple times here, all year long. Picking up a package is a nightmare, parking is usually unavailable, and on occasion I thought I might have to get a napkin for the postal clerk's dribble and drivel.
I am so happy to see that other people feel the same way about the post offices in this area! What is up with every employee treating you like shit and moving at a snail's pace?? I'm sorry you hate your job but don't blame me. And that damn glass case that you have to lift up to slide your package through and then close it before they can open it and they yell at you if you open it too quickly or do something incorrectly.... The last time I went was to mail a package that happened to have a 1 oz bottle of perfume for someone's Christmas gift and I was stupid enough to be honest when they asked if there were liquids inside - the guy told me that since I didn't know the alcohol content of the perfume, I couldn't mail it. Now it's only FedEx for me.
I have had good luck going here weekday mornings around 10; usually the line is not too long and it moves fairly quickly. But it's kind of a no-frills experience. I expect most of those Capitol Hill workers you mention are using the post offices in the federal buildings; I think there's one in the Cannon building and I expect the Capitol's got it's own. No need for them to mingle with the common people! : )
I love the Ledroit post office and have never had to wait more than 15 minutes for service. The clerk has always been very courteous to me. For a one person operation its remarkably efficient. Maybe the bad review will keep folks away!
THE worst post office I've dealt with in DC (and I've been here since 1988) is the 20009 PO on 14th Street NW. This one is the epitome of northern charm and southern efficiency (ie. they're rude and slow). Lately I have noticed they've been staffing better so maybe there's hope...
omg...pleeeeeeeeeease go take a look at the post office in Silver Spring, 20907. They have a full staff of all the other post office rejects. I have never gone in there and not had to wait in line at least a half hour. It's also right across the street from a sunrise assisted living facility, so you're constantly stuck behind someone's grandma still trying to figure out how the post office works after all these years.

They do have an APC though...........
This is the third zip code I've inhabited in DC (20001, LeDroit Park). First was 20010 then 20009. Not being a fan of driving across town to go to the post office, LeDroit Park is my favorite. The one-woman-show is effective enough. She's a little surly but damn efficient. My experiences with DC post offices has me permanently emotionally disfigured, so ALL I ask for is efficiency and no bullshit.

A few months ago she tried to tell me USPS no longer does media mail. I calmly stated I mailed some media mail yesterday at a different post office. She looked at me flatly, and rang me up for media mail. Good enough.
The Penn Ave PO sucks. Don't go on a Saturday. You will be in line forever. Plus it is hot as hell in that place.
Requiring ID as a condition of acceptance for a MasterCard or Visa is a violation of the merchant agreement. The clerk can *ask*, but they still have to accept the card if you refuse to show ID. Lots of stores violate this rule, but I would expect the USPS to know better (snort, snicker).

Do your part: anytime a clerk demands ID as a condition of credit card acceptance, call the number on the back of your card and report them. You'll notice that any stores you report will stop asking for ID a couple weeks later.
Oh, and I can't believe the article failed to mention USPS's most grievous customer service move of all: no late-night counter service! Need to send a package after 9 pm? Sorry dude, you may be in the capital of the free world, but you ain't gettin no service. At least the station on North Capitol used to be open until midnight, but they started closing at 9 pm a few months ago. Pitiful!
Justin, thank you for exposing the heinous Southeast Station.

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