Posting Good Cheer : Lincoln Heights : * ZIP: 90031 : * Number of people in line upon arrival: 11 : * Number of people in line upon departure: 37


S weep, sweep, sweep. Lean on the broom. Sweep. Snicker at motorists.

The broom lady of Johnson Street ain’t giving up her stand: keeping postal patrons from parking in front of her house, primo parking space next door to the Lincoln Heights Post Office--where there is no parking.

Still, everyone jockeys for the spot, the human traffic cone--dressed in a flowered housecoat, scuffies and cat-eye reading glasses--taunting a Toyota, flailing at a Ford and hustling away my Hyundai.

Finally, 25 minutes later I slip into a spot beneath a mural of a big, brown-eyed Virgen de Guadalupe, not far from the Tacos Chapalita hut where the motto is: “Say no to drugs, say yes to tacos.”


Outside the post office two kids guard a baby Christmas tree bought at a nearby lot. Their mom is inside sending off a package to Guatemala. Inside, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” plays. Five dollars in change crashes to the floor, sending people out of line and children scurrying to help pick up the coins. Another 10 people are at a table licking on stamps. Another seven--four women holding crying babies--wait their turn at a stamp machine.

No one is singing along.

At a corner wrapping station a half-dozen people take their turn taping boxes. But a man wearing a baseball cap emblazoned with “Sinaloa,” is short on patience and barks an order to “speed it up.” A woman kindly tells the man to sit--er, stand--tight.

“You’re not my wife,” he mutters in Spanish. “And you are no gentleman,” she responds, shutting him up on this fine, holly jolly morning.

Three women giggle at the exchange; one suggests, in a whisper, that the man’s mouth should be sealed and shipped off to Honduras. Meanwhile, 8-year-old Max Avila has been sent into the battle zone by his mother to hold a spot in line while she tries to park the car.

“She’ll be in soon,” Max says. “Just as soon as the lady stops sweeping the street.”

Total time: 18 minutes