City Paper is not for tourists
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: 900 Brentwood Rd. N.E.. Date: 4/15/09 Time: 11:43 a.m.
If you live in D.C. and you receive mail, you’ve gotta love Curseen-Morris 20066, D.C.’s enormous postal distribution center. Formerly known as Brentwood Postal Facility, C-M2K66 is hallowed ground: In October 2001, USPS employees Joseph Curseen, Jr. and Thomas Morris, Jr. died from anthrax exposure helping a copy of Card Player (a poker magazine to which I subscribed in the early aughts) get to my home in Mt. Pleasant (sorry, guys, and thanks for the sacrifice). But does this USPS Golgotha do right by the honored dead for which it is named by carrying on a long tradition of high-quality customer service?
1. Automated Postal Center (APC) A mail “processing and distribution” center sounds pretty official – certainly, more official than a mere “station” or “post office.” Thus, I expected C-M2K66 to be tricked out with numerous APCs. I was wrong. Then again, I also think that an amusement park bold enough to name itself “Great Adventure” should have the largest amusement park ride in the world. (Wrong again: that ride is at Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio which, incidentally, went for Bush in 2004. Sandusky, Ohio, that is – not the park).
2. Safety Glass As my devoted readers know, I am a longtime critic of USPS safety glass. I was happy to see that Curseen-Morris – the national symbol of the USPS’s ongoing war against biological and biochemical weapons – does not have safety glass. Then, I rememered that two dudes died in this building sorting mail and thought, “Damn. Doesn’t this place need safety glass?” (If the financially-strapped USPS doesn’t wanna spring for new safety glass, I suggest recycling the useless/alienating glass at MLK Station, 1400 L St. NW. Take that, MLK, you bastard! (My use of the word “bastard” refers to MLK Station as an entity, not its individual employees or Martin Luther King, Jr., the popular, well-respected, slain civil rights leader.))
3. Prompt Service Here’s what I like: a short (short = less than 5 people) line staffed by two efficent cashiers and, in the event a line does form, a little waiting area with three chairs circled around a wooden table set with a vase of flowers (I might be making up the flowers, but I’m pretty sure I remember them). If you had tea, you could have a tea party in here! In fact, I’d way rather have tea at C-M2K66 than at some dumb 18th St. hookah bar. Hookahs – who 1) wants them or 2) needs them? What does Adams Morgan think it is, 1,001 Arabian Nights or something?
4. Parking Oh, C-M2K66 – nothing turns me on more than an enormous, empty, free, front pull-in parking lot where I can park for free for thirty glorious minutes. Is it getting hot in here, or is it just me?
5. Service With a Smile “Sandy” – thanks for packing that certified-with-return-receipt mail for me. I know it’s frustrating when unschooled M.F.’s come in on Tax Day and don’t know how to deal with certified mail, let alone return receipts. Just to clarify: I do know how to pack up mail that’s certified-with-return-receipt. I have dealt with this type of mail many times over the years and, frankly, I have mastered it. However, I feel that it’s presumptous to pack up one’s own certified mail, much like trying to speak bad French to a guy selling crepes underneath the Eiffel Tower or bad Russian to a guy selling borscht outside the Kremlin. Also, I was mailing my girlfriend’s taxes, and couldn’t afford (emotionally) to f*ck them up. Got keep peace on the domestic front, you know what I mean, Sandy?
6. Triflin’ Factor Perhaps because of C-M2K66’s tragic history, there wasn’t much triflin’ goin’ on.
7. Customer Comments “I just use the P.O. Box,” says Lewis Jenkins, who lives near C-M2K66, but rarely uses counter-service. “And get packages,” he adds. (I know this quote sucks, but, truth be told, I really hate getting quotes from the “man on the street.” I mean, I go to gas station all the time, but don’t have an informed opinon about 87 octane vs. 89 octane for any reporters who might be hanging around. Also, “man on the street” quotes 1a) don’t advance journalism because they are, by definition, anecdotal and 1b) usually uninformative and 2) are very awkward to get on a really rainy day for a piece that would potential criticize a post office that was at the center of a very tragic, very scary part of our great nation’s history, i.e. 9/11/01 and the dark days following. And, fuck it: This column’s not getting me into Columbia Journalism School or a job at WaPo anyway. So take this quote and shove it.)
Final Grade: Honor the fallen! A+.