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At Post & Print, a window onto Bates student life

By the end of 2017, Bates Post & Print will have processed and passed out more than 70,000 incoming items, from letters to packages to poster tubes to cupcake boxes.

On Oct. 10, Elizah Laurenceau ’19 of Astoria, N.Y., picked up two of those items and loaded them onto a hand dolly. One large box contained products — including a face mask or soda, she thought — sent to her by the online magazine Her Campus for her to review.  

Retail Shipping and Parcel Clerk Laurie Grimmel helps Elizah Laurenceau ’19 of Astoria, N.Y., load recently delivered packages onto a hand dolly on Oct. 10. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Another, smaller box contained a few things from home, Laurenceau said — glasses, shoes, and her Halloween costume, an American League baseball jersey with David Ortiz’s name on the back. She and her friends were dressing up as professional athletes’ significant others from the reality show “WAGS.”

Halloween-related deliveries, Post & Print staff had noticed, were going up this week in early October. In fact, with a package processed about every two minutes, you can learn a lot about Bates students by the stuff they pick up on the first floor of Kalperis Hall.

Longboards are now more popular than Razor scooters, said Laurie Henderson, Post & Print director. Yogibo bean bag products are all the rage, and students are increasingly having rugs and bedding shipped to them.

Bobby Bosse, supervisor of mail and package services at Post & Print, looks at package deliveries on Oct. 10. Post & Print will receive upwards of 70,000 by the end of 2017. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Many students get food and clothes from subscription services like Blue Apron and Stitch Fix, or trust Post & Print’s refrigerator to keep Made by Melissa cupcakes fresh until they can pick them up.

What used to take a trip to the Radio Shack in Lewiston Mall (since closed) or Best Buy in Auburn (soon to close), or what was simply gone without, can be found online. Joe Inger ’21 of Yarmouth, Maine used scissors to unwrap a pair of earbuds — “for working out,” he said. Inger said he gets a package about once a week, anything from granola bars to gifts through Amazon.

Joe Inger ’21 of Yarmouth, Maine, opens a new pair of earbuds in Post & Print on Oct. 10. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

When a package comes in, staff or student workers sort and scan it, creating a label for the item and sending an email notification to the recipient, who picks it up by scanning an ID card. Students can open their packages right in Post & Print or cart larger boxes away in backpacks or with a borrowed hand dolly.

Some days, Henderson said, are busier than others. Move-In Day for first-years is a big one — 244 people received 783 items on Aug. 28 this year. Labor Day, when most upperclass students move in, netted 1,132 items for 632 patrons, and on Valentine’s Day 2017, 660 patrons received 1,176 items.

Those items could be letters or postcards, fresh food or electronics. But mostly, they’re packages — many more packages than were delivered even a few years ago. That’s part of why Post & Print is so centralized, and why the college eliminated student mailboxes.  

The one-stop shop was a boon to Katie Stone ’19 of Riverwoods, Ill., who, as part of a small lunchtime rush on Oct. 10., came away with an armful of packages and letters.

Stone said her mail was usually limited to cards and absentee voting information, but relatives and friends had sent her gifts for her upcoming 21st birthday. A Crate & Barrel box came from her best friend, but she couldn’t guess what was inside.

“She told me not to open it until [my birthday]” she said.

Katie Stone ’19 of Riverwoods, Ill., carries away birthday gifts sent by friends and relatives on Oct. 10. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College).

Post & Print has responded to significant shifts in how people send and receive things — “hundreds of pounds” of catalogs have been replaced by postcards or online marketing, said Post & Print assistant director Ed Jawor ’93.

But some things, like care packages from relatives, don’t change. Libby Masalsky ’18 of Warwick, R.I., picked up a box sent by her grandmother in Cape Cod and opened it on a nearby table, chatting with friends who were picking up packages themselves.

“She’s killing it,” Masalsky said as she pulled out chips, oatmeal, a sweater, and a necklace — her grandmother sends her yard-sale finds, she said. Warwick smiled as she read a Halloween-themed card, then re-packed the box and went on with her day, her grandmother’s gifts and good thoughts now part of life on campus.

Libby Masalsky ’18 of Warwick, R.I., opens a care package her grandmother sent her on Oct. 10. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College).