City Desk

Post Office No. 2: Brookland Station, 20017

Brookland Station, 20017

Brookland Station, 20017

A 10-part series in which Justin Moyer, part-time musician, part-time journalist, and full-time USPS enthusiast visits a bunch of post offices in our nation's capital so you don't have to.

Location: 3401 12th St. NE
Date: April 7
Time: 1:07 p.m.

"My band rehearses at this delightful practice space in Brookland."
"Brooklyn?"
"No—Brookland. In Washington, D.C."

So runneth the typical exchange with a high-powered music executive who somehow can't understand that all bands aren't from New York's most overpriced borough. But what Brookland, 20017, lacks in national name recognition, it makes up in desolate railroad tracks, warehouses-turned-art spaces, and a cozy post office conveniently located near Yes! Natural Foods. But how cozy is too cozy?

1. Automated Postal Center (APC)
You've gotta be kidding me. There's barely enough room in here for the Easter promotional display.

2. Safety Glass
You betcha. P.O. 20017's architects do get kudos for installing safety glass with rectangular insets that, through an acoustic phenomenon alien to me, amplify the voice of the clerk—a marked improvement on the useless holes routinely drilled in USPS glass that engender pantomining and screaming.

3. Prompt Service
Eh...I've seen worse, but I've also seen a lot better. A line five-people deep attended by two clerks, one of whom is trying to explain the difference between Parcel Post® (one of USPS' more confusing innovations) and first-class mail to an uninitiated customer? We can do better, people!

4. Parking
Few signs in small parking lots inspire as much dread as "rear-end parking only."

5. Service with a Smile
"Happy Easter," offered USPS cashier "Kim" after I purchased a book of 20 Forever stamps. "If you celebrate Easter," she added. That's what I like—a Christian, but still politically correct, way to say goodbye. (Kim, FYI: Though I won't be celebrating Christ's resurrection, I will still enjoy the pierogi at my cousin Donna's Easter dinner in Riverside, N.J.)

6. Triflin' Factor
Though some spend their lives fighting genocide, I've chosen a more modest target: budging. Come on—all you triflin' budgers who think you somehow reserved your spot in line because you're (incompetently) filling out an express mail or customs-declaration form know that you can't get your spot back once you let me pass you! And if you're gonna budge, just budge, and we can settle our differences outside. Don't give me the "budge-eye"—that sad, puppy-dog look that pathetically says, "Can I budge? Just this once?" When I'm at the post office, it's a no-budge zone.

7. Customer Comments
"The back-up parking is a pain in the ass," says Wayne Holeman, an employee at Providence Hospital who frequently makes USPS for work. "Sometimes there's a lot of people in there, but there are never many problems." (FYI: This was the man who had given me the "budge-eye" inside.)

Final Grade: Too small and understaffed. Then again, it's near Colonel Brooks Tavern. C-.

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