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LA post office clerk can help send holiday packages with a smile

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By Tris DeRoma

If Los Alamos Post Office customers looking to ship holiday gifts are lucky, they may get post office clerk Ted Romero to help them out. For the past 20 years, Romero has been using his smile and his wits to help customers through one of the most stressful times of the year.

Not only is Romero good at solving problems, he can also tell a great joke.

Romero said he likes to joke with the customers because it helps take their minds off their worries, especially if the wait may be a little longer than expected.

“Life is tense enough as it is,” Romero said.

It also makes good economic sense.

“If people get the service they want, they will keep coming back. There is more than one shipping option,” Romero said. “We like people to be happy.”

Romero also is a resident of Los Alamos County, which sometimes leads to some strange interactions outside of work.

“Some of my older customers sometime say ‘I know you from somewhere,’ and I’ll go, ‘Oh yeah, I met you at your niece’s bar mitzvah…” Romero joked.

It’s then, though, they catch on to where they really met him, and everyone’s in on the joke.

All kidding aside, Romero and the staff at the Los Alamos Post Office are serious about wanting customers to get their packages to their proper destinations.

If there’s one rule that will guarantee a package gets there, it’s the one about addresses. Romero wants his customers to always remember that the top left of the of package or the letter is for the sender address and the bottom right is for destination address. While that sounds like a pretty obvious rule, the post office is aware that Los Alamos County has residents from other countries whose postal services require they do  exact opposite when it comes to placing the “sender” address and the “to” address.

“A lot of people don’t know that the way the post office sorts the mail is by the bottom right address”, Romero said. “The way post office employees are taught to sort the mail is to look at the zip code on the bottom right… so if they invert the ‘to’ and the ‘from,’ it doesn’t matter what they put for an address, they’ll get it back the next day.”

Romero also said if customers get their postage online, make sure the postage amount matches with the type of envelope or box they are going to use. For example, “flat rate” goes with a flat rate envelope, and so forth.

“If you print out a label on the computer, it needs to be specific for the type of package you’re going to select. There are a lot of different options,” Romero said.

Don’t feel like going to the post office get boxes? Another option people can exercise is ordering their packages and envelopes beforehand through USPS.com. The mail carrier will then deliver envelopes and boxes  to the customer free of charge.

“You just go on USPS.com, you pick out the ones you want, and we’ll ship it to their address for free,” Romero said. “So they can get a really nice padded envelope, $6.25 is the postage, but it’s a free envelope, and they’ll ship it right to your house.”

Residents can mail almost anything from the post office, too. “You can even put an address on a coconut, and we’ll send it,” Romero said. 

Things the post office won’t send however includes hazardous materials, or anything with alcohol in it, including perfume.

Private carriers, such as the United Parcel Service and Federal Express can handle those needs.
Packs of batteries, however, must be mailed USPS ground.

However, the U.S. Postal Service is allowed to mail toys and gifts with batteries in them too.
Other than that, the sky’s the limit.

If customers want to send some New Mexico  foods, like fresh green chile, the post office can help. The USPS can also ship live animals, “and small unruly children. Just include a juice box, peanut butter snacks, and make sure to put a few holes in the box top,” Romero joked.

This holiday season, the U.S. Post Office has already set international and domestic shipping times for destination times.
• For Los Alamos County, they are:
International

• Priority Mail International  send no later than  Dec. 9

• Priority Mail Express International  send no later than Dec. 14

• Global Express Guaranteed send no later than Dec. 19

Domestic

• First Class Package Service, Retail  Dec. 19

• Priority Mail  Dec. 20

• Priority Mail Express Dec. 22