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It's Christmas crunch time at Auburn post office for cards, parcels

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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It would be tax season for accountants. For candy stores and flower shops, it’s the days leading up to Valentine’s Day. Costume shops brace themselves for Halloween. And the U.S. Postal Service in Auburn, and throughout the country, hold off on vacations, put their best foot forward and prepare for the busiest time of the year during what’s described in carols as the most wonderful time of the year. It’s Christmas crunch time and Auburn Postmaster Richard Cook said that postal service employees are just as jazzed about it as their customers. “Employees enjoy it and really step up to the plate,” Cook said. “It’s not super taxing when the fact is that it’s Christmas. For our carriers, it’s the time of the year when they feel like Santa. ” Mondays leading up to Christmas tend to be the busiest, so the Nevada Street post office took the step of relieving some of the potential congestion by opening this past Sunday for four hours during a day it would normally be closed. And the Nevada Street location will be staying open regular hours on Christmas Eve just to make sure any last-minute packages can make their way into Auburn hands, Cook said. Patricia Sparks of Old Town Auburn’s Station A said the post office in the rustic business district will stay open through its regular lunchtime closure Monday from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. to help customers get their packages processed quickly. “Monday is supposed to be the biggest day of the year,” Sparks said. So far, Station A has kept up with the influx and is providing a pressure-release valve for the much-busier, much-bigger Nevada Street location. Things at the small postal station have also been sped up by a new three-minute parking space signed and painted for use earlier this month in front of the Station A door, Sparks said. “On Thursday, we had a 5-to-10-minute wait compared to Nevada Street,” Sparks said. “At one point, I heard they were 40 deep.” On Friday, Karen Rexius of Auburn was playing her own version of Santa, with packages bound for Washington, West Virginia and Elk Grove. All contained one of this year’s hottest kids’ presents – the Leapfrog Leappad learning tablet. Rexius and her husband bought four of the tablets for $100 each, anticipating strong demand. They sold three for $150 each on Amazon.com and are keeping one – paid for with the profits from the other sales – for their own family. Rexius said the line was long at the post office, but things moved smoothly, allowing the packages to be mailed as a priority shipment and guaranteeing they’ll arrive before Christmas. “The lineup was out the door this morning,” Rexius said. “We usually try to avoid the post office at Christmas and tax time.” Cook said that people with plenty of packages and gifts to mail can do themselves a favor by avoiding the Monday crunch and arriving at an off-peak time such as mid-morning. Cook said that he pre-prints addresses onto envelopes for cards on his computer so they’re extra legible and spruces things up with a small Christmas design. “If the machines can read the address, you can make it fly through the system,” Cook said. “You can get something across the U.S. in three days.”