It’s the most wonderful time of year... and for mail carriers, also the busiest

The mission: Make sure no package is left behind.
Published: Dec. 21, 2022 at 5:22 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 21, 2022 at 9:35 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - On a typical day, U.S. Postal Service carrier Michelle Porral-Otsuka crosses busy streets, climbs a lot of stairs, greets residents ― both animal and human ― and deals with the odd delivery or two.

“People order cat litter. Yeah. That’s the heaviest. It’s heavier than the dog food,” Porral-Otsuka said.

During the holidays, she’s got twice the workload ― delivering 300 to 400 packages a day.

“So yeah, kind of overwhelming,” Porral-Otsuka said.

She’s part of an army of USPS postal workers mobilized during the Christmas rush, including about 100 seasonal hires. “I’m still averaging 75 hours, sometimes 80 hours a week. Last year, was about 80-90 hours a week,” she said.

The mission: Make sure no package is left behind.

“Just going back and forth to the office and back on the road, grabbing more packages, refilling the truck, because it never fits all at once,” she said.

Eight years into the job and in spite of the 12-14 hour days this time of year, Porral-Otsuka says she loves it.

“Customers appreciate you a lot,” she said.

“It’s wonderful. And with a smile,” said USPS customer Joe Ferarro.

“Reliable and affordable and personalized. Right here. comes to your door,” added Nadine Ferraro.

“They did come out with this big bag like they’re Santa. And they gotta walk quite a ways,” said USPS customer Douglas Esteban.

Porral-Otsuka says package volume rose after more people started ordering items online during the pandemic.

That growth has since fallen and USPS is bracing for a challenging financial year ahead.

Customer loyalty may help.

“They do unreal service. And the price is just, you can’t beat the price,” Esteban said.

And Wednesday is an important deadline: It’s the last day to send packages to the mainland for Christmas using Priority Mail Express.