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Northwest Station, 20015

The last installment of 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: 5632 Connecticut Avenue NW
Date: 4/21/09
Time: 2:59 p.m.

O, Chevy Chase! Crown jewel of Upper Northwest! Are your post offices as well-kept as your traffic circles, as exclusive as your country clubs, and as decadent as those safety flags people once used to cross Connecticut Avenue?

1. Automated Postal Center (APC)
Not since Michael killed Anna Lucia and Libby in one episode of Lost has my world been so rocked – 20015 no longer has an APC! Even worse – there’s the faint outline of an APC against the wall where the APC used to be, and someone tried to obscure the clear evidence of the missing APC with a Selective Service poster! The least 20015 could do is spring for a paint job so I don’t have to be reminded of what Bruce Springsteen called those “glory days” that “pass you by in the wink of a young girl’s eye.” After all, Benjamin Moore is right down the street.

2. Safety Glass
I suppose it’s possible that the world’s oldest woman and her home health aide might try to knock over 20015 while pursuing this P.O.’s “Framed Art” collection, but Northwest’s Station’s designers did not think the senior threat palpable enough to install safety glass for its employees’ protection.

3. Prompt Service
The kind of line I like is no line at all and, at least yesterday, that was the kind of line that Northwest Station had.

4. Parking
Parking in Chevy Chase is kind of a B-I-T-C-H. Street parking on Connecticut Avenue is hit-or-miss at best, and if it’s between 7 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. or between 4:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., rush-hour restrictions are in effect, and you’re basically F-U-C-K-E-D. Also, if you find a spot, it’s 25 cents for 10 minutes, a full 33.3% less than the 15 minutes 25 cents buys you in most other parts of Washington, DC. Meanwhile, the spacious MacGruders/Benjamin Moore parking lot is reserved for MacGruders/Benjamin Moore customers, and while I’ve never been towed from this lot when illicitly parking there…well, let’s just say I’ve never contracted a water-borne illness drinking unfiltered D.C. tap water either, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. So, if you want to park in the MacGruders/Benjamin Moore lot, I recommend either buying some broccoli and/or a pint of “linen sand” semi-gloss and becoming an official customer of both/either of those fine establishments.

5. Service With a Smile
Dearest “Makeda”: I guarantee that when you cheerfully call out “Can I help someone?” I will cheerfully reply “Yes, you can help me, and I need 20 Forever stamps.”

6. Triflin’ Factor
Though I didn’t witness any triflin’ at Northwest Station during my visit, I’m not convinced that there isn’t any triflin’ going on. You’re telling me that some mom pushing a stroller more expensive than my car isn’t going to go buckwild on a cashier after waiting in a long line on December 22 when the cashier tells her that priority mail might get that IPod to her sister in Hyannisport, Massachusetts in time for Christmas, but that priority mail doesn’t guarantee two-day delivery?

7. Customer Comments
“This is a good post office,” a taciturn man with a Eastern European accent informed me outside of 20015. I had peppered this possibly-Russian fellow with numerous questions about Northwest Station, but, perhaps because of KGB training, gulag trauma, or the Russian mafia’s “zero tolerance” for alternative weekly reporters, he had yet to offer anything quotable.
“Is the service good, or bad?” I prodded.
“Sometimes it is good,” the man cryptically replied. “Sometimes it is bad,” he added.
“Where are you from?” I asked.
“Russia,” the man replied.
“Well,” I said, desperately searching for a pithy sound bite. “Is this post office at least better than a Russian post office?”
The man laughed. Then, he nodded. “Yes,” he said, and walked away.

Final Grade: Really? No APC? A solid B-.