SIGONELLA, Sicily (NNS) -- "The Hub of the Med." The phrase is heard often in Sicily, but when it comes to the post office, it's true.
On a daily basis, the post office manages to handle thousands of pounds of incoming mail while getting Sigonellans packages to loved ones in the United States. They also forward mail to the various ships in the area of responsibility - the entire Mediterranean Sea.
"Our office operates with four military personnel and one civilian," said Chief Postal Clerk (SW) Hector Rivera. "They handle, on average, between 2,000 and 3,000 pounds of mail a day. During the holidays, the amount of mail we handle triples."
Postal Clerk 3rd Class Carrie Jo Lautrup elaborated on the stress of handling that much mail.
"It feels like we are always here. Sometimes the work is stressful, because we can't put work off for a couple of days," she said. "However, the customers are very appreciative of the service we give them."
For those of you wondering what takes your mail so long to get to you, Rivera points to a few common problems.
"It used to take a long time for mail to arrive from the States, but nowadays, it's a matter of a week to 10 days," he said. "When I was in Rota, Spain, 10 years ago, it would take two or three weeks to get mail, but mail moves quicker now. If it's taking a long time for you to receive something, then it's either because it was addressed improperly or some one isn't picking up your mail on a regular basis."
However, there are other factors involved with how long it take to get mail. Among those factors is using a Sigonella address instead of the FPO.
"That puts the letter into the international terminal in New York and delays it getting here," said Rivera. "Also you have to take into account that it can take three to five days for a letter to get to New York and another three to five days to get here. Making sure people use proper addresses will improve the time it takes to get your mail."
And then once your mail reaches Naval Air Station Sigonella, you have to take into account that it must be sorted.
"It takes a while to sort mail if people don't use their ZIP code plus 4," said Rivera. "Using a ZIP code plus 4 reduces the amount of time it takes for us to sort the mail especially when you consider we have over 1200 mailboxes to put mail into."
Fortunately for the Sailors and Marines at the post office, they can handle the job.
"This is the little engine that could," claimed Rivera. "It's a tough uphill battle but we keep chugging along."
For related news, visit the Naval Air Station Sigonella Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/nassig.