In the desperate moments before midnight, Minnesota's only 24/7 post office has long eased a procrastinator's panic over a postmark deadline.
Beginning March 26, the office at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport will be open only from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. It will close on New Year's Day, Memorial Day, July Fourth, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas, but continue to be open Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Presidents Day.
"On the holidays, we're the only show in town," said a station postal worker who asked not to be named. "They flood in here. ... Well, except on Christmas. No on wants to be out on Christmas." And in the wee morning hours, the postal rush slows to a trickle as eBay aficionados make dead-of-the-night runs and on-the-go business people make pre-dawn dropoffs. The facility averages only about three customers an hour overnight, said Postal Service spokesman Pete Nowacki.
A $3.8 billion deficit in the U.S. Postal Service's budget inspired the cutbacks. "We're looking at everything in our operations to save some money," Nowacki said. He didn't have an estimate on how much the change will save but said four employees will be reassigned.
"Every good thing comes to an end," said the late-night postal worker. "Even I know that."
MARY LYNN SMITH, PAUL WALSH AND JOHN EWOLDT