SEATAC, Wash. — The United States Postal Service (USPS) is preparing for another busy holiday season while also dealing with a delivery driver shortage.
Between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, the USPS estimates it will deliver about 12 billion pieces of mail and packages.
Nearly 28 years of experience working as a delivery driver at the USPS could not prepare Josh Smith, or any delivery driver, for what's to come.
"We're doing a lot more packages than ever right now," Smith explained while loading his truck at the postal service's SeaTac location.
The 2020 holiday season was a record one for the USPS, which processed and delivered more than 13 billion letters, cards and packages.
On top of that, drivers were dealing with some of the toughest conditions they have ever dealt with.
"You throw in traffic, you throw in COVID, you throw in the environment, the rain and everything, and we keep moving forward. That's what we do," said Smith.
Now, the USPS is getting ready for another busy year. To prepare, the postal service is expanding Sunday delivery service in areas where the need is especially intense.
"We are picking up extra routes and extra work and all the good stuff," said Smith. "That week right before Christmas, them last-minute shoppers, they going to order that stove on December 22, they want it there Christmas morning. It's probably not gonna happen," said Smith.
The worker shortage is also a major blow this year as drivers work longer hours to get packages delivered in time for the holidays.
The USPS is looking to hire more than 40,000 seasonal workers to help carry the load full of gifts.
"I hope we get more people," said Smith. "My hope is to get more people to help out our situation. Most of us, if you just say thank you or a card or something, we appreciate that."