3 Reasons Why I Hate the 23rd St. Post Office


This amazing photo is actually from the 23rd St. Post Office.  This is the kind of magical place it is.  Photo courtesy of Karoline Collins.

Between shipping out books, shirts and bags, I spend WAY too much time in this particular post office.  Considering I started doing zines in 2004, I’ve been coming here roughly once a week or so for about five years.  And all I’ve gotten for my trouble is a lowered general moral and a lot of time standing in line.  I’ve given this place some of my best years.  What follows is the 3 reasons why I hate this place so much.

1.  There is ALWAYS a line.

This is what my life looks like at least once a week

Because I generally work from home during the day my hours are pretty flexible.  This means that long lines are generally a rarity in my world.  Whether its the bank, the doctor’s office, Walgreens or fucking Tartine, I rarely have to wait for more than a few minutes before I’m served….Look fucker don’t give me that mock “woe is me” crap, this is the lifestyle I’ve chosen.  You’ve chosen a job with health benefits and 401k, I’ve chosen the one with no lines at Walgreens, alright?

Anyways, for some reason no matter what time of day it is, even if it’s like Tuesday at 1pm there is always a line.  Out of the hundreds of times I’ve set foot in there, I can probably count on my hands how many times the wait has been less than 20 minutes.  What the fuck??  Who the hell else doesn’t have shit to do at 1pm on Tuesday?  they can’t all be underemployed writers who sit around in the boxers working from home all day can they?

2. You can’t pick up your packages here

The USPS generally only attempts to deliver your package once and it always seems to be during times when nobody is home.  So then you come home, find the slip letting you know there is a package for you and you head over to the nearest post office.  It’s reasonable to think that the place within a few blocks of your house where you send packages and buy stamps and shit is also the place where you would retrieve your parcel, right?  Nope.  Not so fast buddy.  You have to go all the way down to 16th and Bryant to another post office just to pick up your goddam present from your weird senile uncle who always thinks your birthday is in July when it’s really in February.  Let’s just hope Uncle Thorazine remembered to poke breathing holes into the box this time.

3. They got rid of the stamp machine

At one point there used to be a stamp vending machine in the lobby of this post office.  If you needed some stamps, you’d come in, look at the line, cross yourself and than Jesus for making you not have to wait in it, and then purchase your stamps.  The entire thing took about 4 minutes.  But I guess that just made WAY too much sense for this place.  I mean how fucking hard was it to maintain that shit?  Even the fucking Greyhound Station has working vending machine and people sleep in their own defecation in that place!  Sure, they’re not vending stamps, but really, don’t you think a machine selling ice cold Coca-Colas is far more difficult to maintain than one vending stamps?  No?  Then look at this, this and this!!!  Come onnnnn!!!!!

Look, I know that you can also buy stamps at grocery stores and banks, but this is the fucking POST OFFICE for fuck’s sake!  This is the place where you’re supposed to buy stamps.

Damn…I’m glad I got that off my chest.  Now is your turn.  Do you have any good post office stories you’d like to share?  Feel free to comment below.

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About the author

Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

I've been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle , "an SF cult hero": SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York, but to those familiar with my work, I'm just "that douchebag who writes books about cheap stuff and drinks a lot".

11 Comments

  1. I can’t believe they got rid of the automated stamp machine! That was the only good part about the office. I used to have a full time business mailing comics and yo-yos, so this post office was an almost daily stop for a few years. I once called the regional post office manager to complain about the long ass lines and when I told her there was often only one person working she laughed at me and said “That’s impossible. We have at least 3 people staffed at all times and only one person can take a break at a time.” I kept trying to tell her that what she thought and what I actually saw on a near daily basis were total opposites were completely different, but she never believed me.

    Also, having to go past several post offices on the way to the post office near Safeway (up 16th) is fucking ridiculous. I haven’t gotten a single package that was shipped for christmas because I can’t make it all the way over there. I used to pick up my packages from the 23rd st USPS, which is just 3 blocks from my home, up until 2 years ago.

  2. Word! Between this place and the two times I was at the DMV last month, I now understand what it felt like to live in Communist Russia….well not exactly…

  3. Alexx says:

    I remember when I first moved here I realized that I needed to change my address. So, instead of doing it online I went to my nearest post office (23rd) and started looking for a change of address slip. Not seeing one, I decided to get in line and after waiting about 10 minutes got up to the counter and asked for a change of address slip. The teller then informed me that I could do it online, for $1. Well, that’s the whole reason I came to the post office, to avoid the $1 fee. After telling the teller just this, he commented “it’s only $1″ which I replied “i’m cheap”. he then hands me the slip which was 2 inches in front of him the whole time. the end.

    I have packages coming in from wisconsin next week. let’s hope they don’t get sent to 23rd.

  4. Steve says:

    You know what else sucks? Having to send a money order.

    Yes, oh all powerful ebay seller, I am willing to put up with the unbearable hell that is the post office only because you refuse to take Paypal, personal checks, well hidden cash, arms, or firstborns – you insist on a goddamned money order. And I really need that He-Man lunch box that is probably the exact same one my mom sold 20 years ago at that garage sale without telling me.

    Anyway.

    What the USPS needs is an online money order purchasing service. Imagine not having to stand in line! You put in your name, address, the name and address of the hated ebay seller, fill in a memo field so they know to send the lunchbox to your work instead of to your house so you can actually receive it, your credit card number/paypal info, and presto change-o, your money order will be printed and mailed to the hated ebay seller without your ever having to put socks on. Or pants.

    Imagine the possibilities! (I really hate the post office!)

  5. Kylea says:

    I’ve been in there once and there wasn’t a line. 12pm on a Saturday! That seems to be the magic time.

  6. Kylea – You just blew my mind! It must be like opposite day there all the time!

  7. ms says:

    You know where you have to go? World Pioneer Video on 24th between Bryant and York. They’re a post office, too. There’s never a line, the people who work there are super nice, and they’re across the street from La Torta Gorda!

  8. Karoline says:

    Hey there. I don’t mind that you ripped my photo from flickr, but please correct the photo credit to either: the roadiegirl OR Karoline Collins – preferably Karoline Collins. Thanks.

  9. Karoline- Done.

    MS – You’re amazing! thanks!

  10. Lynae says:

    Since I sell stuff online for a living, I mail something like 50 packages a week. I dealt with that SVN post office (which is only like 4 blocks away from me) for about a year and then told it to fuck off and got an Endicia account so I’d never have to go to that counter again.

    I used to use the automated machine there all the time, and there’d always be a line for that too. Then people would give me shit for having so much to mail when they only had one letter. So when it was busy I’d start waiting in the line for the counter instead. And then THEY’D give me shit for not using the machine!

    One of the employees there warned me about a week before they got rid of the machine. He said that another post office in the city had more demand for a machine, and due to budget nonsense the higher-ups had just decided to move that one instead of buying that other office a new one. Not only that, but there had been big staffing cutbacks at the SVN office, and the USPS in their infinite wisdom actually REQUIRES THEY HIRE AN EXTRA PERSON whose primary job it is to instruct people on how to use the machine. So they didn’t have a person to do that any more either.

    What MS said about World Pioneer is totally true. I’ve dropped my oversized packages off there before. Check it out!

  11. Bonnie says:

    Stuart,

    Comparatively, the 23rd Street Mission Post Office is pretty swank. It’s true there is always a long line of people but generally fights do not break out. The postal workers are overworked but otherwise friendly and efficient. For ghetto post offices, stop by the one at Civic Center. There is always at least a 45 minute line of angry people waiting to be helped by one of three postal workers who move and talk in slow motion and appear as if they crawled out from under a Tenderloin half way house. The is no stamp machine or chicken exit, but there are plenty of screaming babies. Twice when I’ve been there to mail packages fights have broken out. The woman who works at the front will scream at customers and send them to the back of the line for infractions she deems punishable. That place is a nightmare.

    xo,

    B

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