GAITHERSBURG, Md. (WDVM) — It’s the busiest time of year for the United States Postal Service. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s the USPS expects to process and deliver 13 billion pieces of mail.
Yes, 13 billion.
Locally, postal workers are expected to process about a million letters per day this week, said Mike Hotovy with the USPS.
A lot happens at the Suburban Distribution and Processing Center in Gaithersburg. It handles mail from across the region, as far north as Damascus and as far south as St. Mary’s county.
Hotovy worked as a mail carrier for nearly 30 years, he’s well-versed in the inner-workings of the USPS and the holiday rush, or peak season, as many postal workers call it.
“The postal service is so vast, it’s huge and there are so many moving parts,” Hotovy explains.
Moving parts– like special machines that make sure the envelopes are facing the right direction, then stamps are canceled so they can’t be re-used, it’s given a barcode, and then it’s scanned and sorted. It’s later loaded onto trucks and gets sent out to your local post office before it makes its way to your mailbox or porch.
You still have time to get your holiday parcels to the post. There’s a few important deadlines coming up:
Letters and cards need to be in by Friday, December 20, packages need to be in by Saturday the 21, and if you wait until the last minute– you can ship Priority Express by Monday the 23.
Whether your mail is headed around the corner or across the country, you can track where it’s at, thanks to its barcode.
“They want to know where it is and when it’s gonna be delivered. Our scanning technology and the barcode is one of the biggest advancements in our technology in the last 10 or 20 years,” Hotovy said.
It sounds like a lot to most people, but Tom Oullette says it’s not the service’s “first rodeo.”
“Ever since there’s been mail, there’s been a holiday rush. We’ve been doing this for more than two centuries. We’re ready for this. We put a lot of preparation in throughout the year.”