“Following Discomfort” – Divin’ A Bit Deeper

I mentioned in my last post something about discomfort, and decided to write about this one today. Does anyone use discomfort as a north arrow on their personal compass? It seems like it may be a viable option. If all we ever do is continually seek out what is comfortable, do we ever grow? Last week I got hung up for a moment over something most folks wouldn’t think twice about. I had driven 7 miles into a small town near our campsite to retrieve a package at the post office. Since we move every two weeks, a “home address” is not a possibility. Instead we have a mail delivery/opening service to which we have all our standard mail sent. Like everyone else these days, we also order things on-line and we need to ship them somewhere. The US Post Office will accept deliveries as “General Delivery-Hold For Customer Pick Up”, but evidently only when they are the primary shipper. Sounds very typical of a typical government protocol, right? Rules are rules. Customer comes first, but only if the rules are followed to the exact, meaningless level of detail. Further, if the USPS was cutting edge, we wouldn’t be propping them up like we are now, awaiting the hammer to drop. The day will likely come when FedEx, UPS, and all the other private carriers own it all.

I could go on all day about that. Instead, back to the story. So, Emily ordered Kitty’s “special” cat litter on-line. At this point, I am uncertain why we went that route. In part, when we look back on it, we could easily have picked it up at any one of the pet stores in Tucson. But, I think we had so much on our plates that we said “F -It”. Amazon shipped the package via UPS to this little post office for general delivery pick up with Emily’s name on it. Tracking information indicated package delivered Thursday. I arrive Friday, go to the one man (woman rather) counter and request pick up, handing her Emily’s driver’s license. The woman looks around, and by looks around I mean the 80-square foot area in which she’s standing. Apparently, the general delivery items make up maybe a total of three in this tiny post office.

She doesn’t see anything with Emily’s name, shows me the few little packages she does have for pick up, and asks me for a tracking number. I give her the one Emily sent me, and she says that’s not a USPS tracking number. I tell her it was sent by Amazon and was shipped via UPS and delivered yesterday. She says, “yeah, we don’t accept shipments from other carriers. We send them back.” She looks at me, and in the typical government worker’s manner, shows me what she does have. Realizing none of those packages are anywhere near the size of our intended package and knowing from her demeanor that she’s not here to help, I thank her and leave.

As I’m walking out, I dial up Emily to let her know. Emily asked me if I would go back in and let the woman know the package was received yesterday by “Fryenhagen”, and see if maybe she could check again. Now, this is where the discomfort hits me. This is where I go back to ‘little kid being scolded’ feeling. The thought of this woman, an average post office clerk, looking at me like, “Didn’t I just tell you I don’t have it? What the hell is wrong with you?”. Most people would simply walk back in and say, “Hey, it says right here Fryenhagen signed for it yesterday. Can you please double-check?”. I tell Emily the woman isn’t helpful and she already said she doesn’t have it. Emily pacifies me and nicely says she’ll just call the woman. So, I sit in the truck for a minute and realize this is one of those times, a time where I need to act against my tendencies. Even more, I know a (friendly) face to a clerk is harder to hide from than some random caller. Plus, I knew getting through the “phone call diversion system” would not be quick for Emily.

So, I figure, here’s my chance. I go back in, and there’s still almost no line of customers in front of me. Once up there, I say very kindly, “Hey, I know you said you don’t have this package, but my wife let me know that an individual named Fryenhagen accepted delivery yesterday…”  As it turns out, she was Fryenhagen, and in realizing this, she changed her tone instantly. She remembered receiving a package of a size that matched the description. “But,” she said, “the package was picked up by UPS this morning.” At this point she was very nice and apologetic, and suddenly an actual person blossomed out from that deeply calloused government shell. Not just a person, but a thoughtful and genuinely personable one. We weren’t able to do anything with the package, at least not through the USPS, and I suggested to Emily to just go back to Amazon and work it through them. As we’ve found before, Amazon has great customer service and unlike the USPS has a strong focus on customer service.

The whole point of this relatively typical occurrence each one of us faces almost daily, is that great things can come from moving toward discomfort. Yeah, we can also “go with the flow”, but where is the flow taking us? Is the flow in the direction of our highest and best self? Had I left without going back in, the matter would have felt unresolved, and seeing Emily spend a whole lot of time on the phone to get an even less than gratifying result would have left the discomfort inside of me. This little bit of discomfort added to 43 years of other little bits of it amounts to a huge pile. Within that pile, and amongst other piles of a similar nature, lie the pitfalls that undermine my true nature and potential.

I intend to get more courage through the simple everyday occurrences like this one by heading toward the discomfort. To this end, I hope regularly facing the little fears will cause the bigger ones to be more easily overcome. Maybe it will even help make sense of the daily emotional challenges I have in staying the course with our “Taking The Leap”. If nothing else, I believe it will help crack open a hidden/vulnerable side of myself in the same way it opened up the USPS clerk, allowing me to have closer and more lasting relationships with those I already know as well as those I have yet to meet. What makes you feel discomfort?

6 thoughts on ““Following Discomfort” – Divin’ A Bit Deeper

  1. Hi Jeff, Enjoyed your last two posts. The opening picture looks like something one would see in Bisbee. Would love to be there now. Sounds like you have an interesting campsite where you are now. I understand your frustration with the USPS. We had problems last yr with the PO when I ordered an oil additive for my 6 litre from Amazon to be delivered to Winterhaven, Ca. It was the closest PO to our campsite near Ogilby. Rd. in Ca. UPS delivered it but PO refused the delivery. Probably because it was delivered by UPS.I used to root for the USPO but no more.
    If you think you may be heading toward S Utah in the near future I would “encourage” you to try for a permit for “The Wave” at the ranger station in Kanab. The daily lottery has a success rate of a little less than 50%. I am seriously considering heading out there solo before the summer heat,.but of course don’t want to haul the 5w. Might have to car camp & motel it a few times.
    Have you considered Cochise Stronghold in the Dragoon Mountains? E of where you are now & a little N. Also, Chiricahua, N Mon. has boondocking or a nice CG if I remember correctly, and hiking trails.
    Been working on the 5w. Replaced and repositioned the black pipe gas line that you pointed out to me was worn by the spring shackle. You may have saved our lives! I never noticed it before you told me. Must have been your home inspection experience! After that we always shut off the LP when going down the road. I strapped a piece of metal to it to stop the wear from the shackle. I think it worked. No explosion on the way home anyway!.
    Spring has arrived here. Love the spring in Iowa, but rather be in S Utah.
    Crazy freakin’ times we live in. The most powerful man in the world is an impulsive child! The upside is I think people are starting to pay attention. If we endure this, maybe it will open people’s eyes. That is if we survive. Don’t get me started!!! Grrrr.
    You and your lovely lady are doing what many people would love to be doing. I think it’s great that you started young. Hope to see you down the road.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey Dennis! That photo was from Empire Ranch. They have done what they can to restore the original house and all the subsequent additions. We enjoyed the bit of history on the homestead and ranching/mining in the area. We’ve really been blessed finding great campsites. We just moved to Prescott, and we worked really hard for this one! We made a bad decision after going in the forest access road by ending up on a long, winding fire road with nowhere for us to turn around. We ended up towing the trailer through six stream crossings and about 18 miles to get out. After all that fun, we found a great spot just off the main forest access road from another entrance, less than 1/2 mile in, but 200′ feet off the road with great solar exposure. What luck!

    Thanks for all the info for Southern Utah and Dragoon. We may try to hit those next winter. Our plan as of now is Prescott, Parker, Joshua Tree, then off to Orange County for a month. After that we are headed up along the coast with plans to hit Ojai, Big Sur, Santa Cruz, East Bay, possibly Yosemite in there, then up along the coast of Northern California up to Oregon, and across to Bend. Fall will hopefully find us heading toward Utah. Maybe we will see you sometime later this year or next. Keep us in the loop as to your whereabouts.

    I don’t remember pointing out that gas line, not sure where that slip in my memory occurred. But, I am glad to have helped, especially something that important!

    Yes, we live in crazy times, but honestly I’m so far removed that I know of very little of what is going on now. Maybe it’s better that way. Live and let live. We’ve enjoyed Arizona, and Phoenix more than we expected. It is funny how important guns are to those folks. We are happy to be moving on to California soon, though.

    All the best!


  3. What causes me discomfort? I feel discomfort any time I ask anyone for anything, this includes home, work, personal, other, etc. For work, it makes me anxious calling and asking for support (it’s my job to ask though!). At home, I want to be the superwoman and don’t to ask my partner for help (I want to do it ALL)!!! Now that I am acknowledging this discomfort, I should figure out a way to mitigate it! Beautiful pictures! Glad you were able to figure out the kitty litter situation! I can’t imagine getting mail on the road, the USPS can’t deliver it properly to my fixed address! Safe and happy trails to you both!


    1. Sorry Melissa, I thought I responded to this one already. Re: your discomfort, you will appreciate my next post. Thanks for appreciating the pics, I’ve enjoyed taking them. Mother Nature makes it easy! We are done with the USPS. We decided if a company uses them, we will find another one to buy from. The down side is UPS and FedEx often charge a fee of $10 to receive for us. I guess that’s still better than not receiving something at all or weeks later. Re: the kitty litter situation, we should’ve just gotten it at Petco. Living and learning!


  4. Jeff, love your posts and pictures. I too, have found that offering a friendly face and disposition to people that don’t seem to deserve it can change their whole attitude. I continue to learn, even st 65!


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