Molly ShoreCarol McLaughlin braved the holiday crowds...

Molly Shore

Carol McLaughlin braved the holiday crowds at the Burbank Main Post

Office on Monday but came away pleasantly surprised.

“I came [here] thinking I would have a long wait, but it wasn’t


bad,” said McLaughlin, who was mailing a Christmas gift to Georgia.

“I’m impressed.”

An estimated 61 million pieces of mail were sent out in Southern

California on Monday, according to David Mazer, the U.S. Postal


Service manager of public affairs in California.

But lines at the post office on Hollywood Way moved quickly. A

staff of five manned the walk-up windows Monday to keep things moving

at a brisk pace, said Carla Wolff, Burbank’s postmaster.

“We’re trying to get [customers] out of here in five minutes,”

Wolff said. “We don’t want anyone to wait too long.”

Though postal officials said Monday was the busiest day of the

year for walk-in traffic, Wolff said mail carriers would experience


their busiest delivery days today and Thursday, when cards and

packages arrive from other parts of the country.

The reason Dec. 15 was so busy this year is because people shopped

and addressed their cards over the weekend, Mazer said. The Monday of

the last full week before Christmas is also because people are trying

to ensure gifts and cards arrive by Christmas.

“We have some extra help and some overtime is involved,” he said,

adding that millions of pieces of mail are sorted quickly by


high-speed machines.

“It’s no longer an employee sorting [mail] into a little pigeon

hole,” Mazer said. “Even though we encourage people to print

addresses, these machines can read 80% of handwriting compared to the

2% of handwriting the [older] machines could read in 1997.”

Packages sent this week by regular mail should reach their

destination by Christmas Day, Mazer said, adding that Priority Mail

should reach its destination in two to three days if mailed by

Saturday. Packages mailed next week by Express Mail are guaranteed

next day delivery in time for Christmas, he said.