Fascinating Post Office No. 4: Southeast Station, 20003
Location: 600 Pennsylvania Ave. SE
Though I’d never visited Southeast Station before, a confidant informed in an e-mail in re: “A Particularly Painful Post Office” that this “Post Office [sic: Southeast Station is a station, not a mere post office] on Pennsylvania by Eastern Market really, really sucks balls.” What USPS reviewer wouldn’t want to investigate this testicular claim?
1. Automated Postal Center (APC)
I thought that a P.O. on Pennsylvania Avenue fewer than 10 blocks from the U.S. Congress and about 20 from the White House—a USPS facility built for the convenience of our nation’s public servants who walk their dogs on Capitol Hill’s lush lawns and push their well-groomed children’s expensive strollers down their exclusive neighborhood’s wide thoroughfares—would be rockin’ at least one APC, maybe two. I thought wrong.
2. Safety Glass
Southeast Station’s staff must implicitly trust the numerous other government employees this P.O. presumably serves—like the Grateful Dead, 20003’s cashiers operate “without a net.” (By “net,” I mean “safety glass.”)
3. Prompt Service
I was 15th in line at Southeast Station, a personal worst. Two cashiers at the front of a 15-person line and no APC? This place needs some TARP money.
Street parking only, and it costs a quarter for 10 minutes. I found a spot out front and counted myself lucky.
5. Service With a Smile
Evaluating the attitudes of postal employees on April 15, aka “Tax Day,” is a little bit like asking a woman giving birth if bringing another soul into the world is really worth the painful havoc that baby is wreaking on her pelvis, lower back, and genitals. Thus, though no clerks were particularly friendly during my rainy–Tax Day visit to 20003 (and, truth be told, I wasn’t feeling very talkative either), I’m inclined to give everyone a pass. This time.
6. Triflin’ Factor
I suspect most triflin’ M.F.s at 20003 aren’t behind the counter. Case in point: a “former House Committee” employee I interviewed about the quality of service at Southeast Station gave me a decent quote, then told me about the plan she has for constitutional reform called the “Serve Your Country Amendment.” This constitutional amendment would ensure that all members of Congress and the President—and, in fact, the entire Washington “establishment”—would be forced out of Washington “like every 12 years” so that they don’t become “entrenched.” While I applaud this worthy sentiment, I wondered how a woman I’d watched struggle with certified mail forms: 1) could successfully lead a movement to alter a historic document that doesn’t even have room for a basic Equal Rights Amendment (for women! for all women! for your mother! for my mother! etc.); 2) thought a Washington City Paper blogger with no business card or laminated press credentials could somehow help her organization-less, constituent-less, Web site–less cause.
7. Customer Comments
“They need more help,” says Paris Singer of Capitol Hill. “There should be a simple way to know how to get certified mail.”
Final Grade: My correspondent was right: This post office does indeed suck balls. F.