Tax Day at the Terminal Annex

I used to live about 6 blocks south of the US Post Office Terminal Annex in Downtown Los Angeles. The Terminal Annex is literally the terminal location for all mail in the LA area, it’s located at the conjunction of all the major highways and railroad lines in LA, and it takes incoming mail from trucks across LA. All outgoing mail ends up here before it is sent outside the city. The TA also has one unique property, it is the last place you can get a letter postmarked until midnight, since it is the only annex open until midnight. For that reason, the TA has become a traditional spot for dropping off your tax returns on April 15.

On Tax Day, streets around the TA are completely impassable for blocks in every direction. It is a scene of total pandemonium, total gridlock with hundreds of cars full of fuming, desperate late-filers. Scattered throughout the cars were roving homeless people offering to take your tax return the final blocks for a fee of $1. I saw one homeless bum on roller skates, I bet he made a lot of money. But you’d have to be a total idiot to hand your tax returns to a homeless bum, I wouldn’t give it to anyone except an agent of the US Post Office.

Every year, I had to cross this massive traffic jam just to drive home, there were no alternate routes I could take to avoid the mess. I remember one year it took me over an hour to cross the four lanes of Alameda Blvd, I had to nose my car in front of crossing (but immobile) traffic. The guy I cut in front of wanted to drag me out of my car and start a fistfight because he thought I was jumping in line, I explained I lived across the street and he would have his precious spot back as soon as I crossed. I was surprised to see how much pent-up anger this crowd of late-filers had.

The Terminal Annex is no longer the terminal spot for all mail in LA. Its functions have been broken up and decentralized, moved to other annexes in the city. There are many other places that can postmark late tax returns until midnight, but the Terminal Annex is still the traditional spot for dropping off your tax return. I’m sure that tonight’s LA TV news shows will be broadcasting live from Alameda Blvd in front of the Terminal Annex, just as they always do.

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