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Deliver Us from the Chicago Post Office

(Photo: Chicago’s old main post office, back in the days of postal credibility…)

To the masochists among my readership, for a good time, buy your stamps at River North’s Fort Dearborn Station post office. In my experience, no other post office in the City of Chicago mines quite the depths of suckiness that Fort Dearborn does.

The top painful experience on offer, of course, is dealing with the surly, uncommunicative, half-asleep, and wholly disinterested staff. Do you enjoy having to explain yourself three times to an alleged customer-service clerk, only to be asked with a vacant, soulless stare, “What is it you want, now?” Fellah, you’ve come to the right place.

How about waiting on an interminable line while four (yes, count them, four) postal clerks do their best to move, walk, and talk as — slowly — as — humanly — possible in order to make sure that just because there is only one person in line in front of you, it will still take ten more minutes to get up to the counter? Sister, get here quick, and bring your leather restraints with you.

Enjoy a total absence of a stamp-book vending machine? Forcing you back to that interminable line to wait for a vacant stare? Unless, of course, you want to buy your stamps one at a time from a poorly conceived, slow-as-mollasses, 1990s-era, supposedly credit-card accepting “automatic postage meter”? My advice is to throw out your whips and slings, get thee here, and just sit on this contraption, instead. It imparts about as painful a user experience.

But don’t fret those among you into actual injury. Just visit Fort Dearborn Station any winter day after a snowfall. You’ll love the marks left after you tumble and fall on the three inches of ice that are never, ever cleared, salted, or otherwise admitted to along the post office’s Grand and Ohio sidewalks.

And wheelchair users, you aren’t left out either. Submissives among you will really get off on that half-hour of knocking on a glass wall that it may require for a postal employee to come to the door and let you in. Because in recent cold weather, the automatic sliding front doors have been locked during the business day. You know, the ones installed to satisfy the federal Americans with Disabilities Act that also serve as emergency exits and clearly state on them, “Emergency Exit: Do Not Lock These Doors During Open Hours”?

Yeah. Those.

Note to Gloria Tyson, Acting Chicago District Manager and Postmaster, installed last year in an attempt to reduce the embarrassment of Chicago having the worst mail delivery in the nation (most especially downtown Chicago): read above. Do you actually visit this city’s local post offices/dens of inadequacy?

Fort Dearborn Station is a civic joke. Then again, so was the mailing I received last summer from Tyson’s Chicago Postal Customer Council. In an effort to improve their delivery of mail to me, the Chicago post office sent me (and about three million other Chicagoans) a post card reminding me of my own address.

If the best you can come up with to improve the job that your workers do in delivering mail to me is to make sure I know what street I live on, Gloria, honey, you’re barking up the wrong tree.

I know where I live. The problem is that half the time your employees don’t. How does reminding me of my address make your employees correctly and accurately deliver mail that is addressed to me by other people?

Or make the workers in your main processing facility get off their collective ass and get each day’s mail to the local carriers in time to be delivered that day?

Tell me, exactly how does telling me my address get Fort Dearborn workers to get my mail to me sometime before 7:00 p.m. in the evening seven days too late?

And while I’m on the subject, I know it might be too much to ask, but maybe, just maybe, could you please stop delivering other people’s mail to me? You know, that correctly addressed mail that your workers misdeliver anyway? Those pesky envelopes and packages addressed to a different name, in a different apartment, occasionally on a different street?

On second thought, I’ll take those misdelivered magazines, as long as they’re interesting and not sports related.

But feel free to keep other people’s bills.

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Michael Thaddeus Doyle

I'm a NYC-native, Latino, Jew-by-choice, hardcore WDW fan in Chicago with an Irish last name. I believe in social justice, big cities, and public transit. I do nonprofit development. I've written this blog since 2005. Believe in the world you want to live in.

My Bio | My Conversion | My Family Reunion


5 replies

  1. So glad you wrote about that post office, Mike. I’ve gotten so aggravated with it lately that I won’t even bother anymore. I walked up there a week ago in the middle of the afternoon to mail a certified letter. I crossed the street and approached the sidewalk leading up to the entrance, saw the line of at least two dozen people, and turned around. My guess is there were only two clerks working — and “working” is putting it generously.

    I’ve now started walking into the loop to conduct business at the Loop Station on Dearborn. It’s a longer walk, but line is shorter and faster, and the staff I’ve dealt with have been far friendlier than Fort Dearborn. I just have to look at it this way: at least I’m burning more calories walking than fuming.

  2. The folks in the PO in the Merchandise Mart are a tad bit better than some of the other uneducated and rude sloths I’ve encountered. Also, I usually order my stamps online. There’s a $1 fee for this convenience, but at least I don’t have to wait in any lines. Well worth the $1!!!

  3. Back in September my normal postal carrier went on a week of vacation, so I did not get mail for that week. I called the post office in the middle of that week, ascertained I had mail there waiting to be collected, took time off work to go get it, only to be screamed at by a postal worker who also refused to give me my mail. I took down her name (which she tried to snatch out of my hand) and made a formal complaint to the PO here and to the USPO and I doubt seriously anything was done about it. If it was, they haven’t informed me.

    OTOH, the people at the express office in the Hancock are very friendly. You just can’t do everything there, like send anything that has to be signed for.

  4. The Division and Ashland post office stinks too. Two of the three times I went to claim a package, if couldn’t be found my the mostly surrey employees. One package was eventually delivered three weeks later (after the replacement had arrived) and the other was never found. Judging from the number of late model luxury cars in the parking lot, the jobs must pay well though. Whenever I mail, I usually make the trek up to the Lakeview Post Office on Ashland near Belmont; a much better staff who really seems to have a clue on how to do their jobs and usually with a smile.

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