I arrived at the 97212 Post Office and there was no line.
None. Zero.

It was just me and two employees in the large, florescent-lit room.

I stood where the line would have ended had there been a line. When Joanna called me up I responded, “Nope. I’m going to wait. Feels weird not to.”

She laughed.

 I didn’t budge.

I continued, “It will make me feel better, normal, to wait a while.”

It was awkward, but pretty funny. 

From my spot, I address to both her and Juanita, the other clerk, “So, let me ask the two of you a question: How do you stay patient? You must get frustrated with people from time to time. How do you, pardon the phrase, keep from going postal?​​”

I like to ask people questions. I’m curious. And, as I desire to master patience, I often ask about people’s techniques. 

They exchanged a look and giggled. As I walked up to get my small parcel weighed I asked, “Is that how? You stay patient by looking at each other?”

They explained how camaraderie – knowing their sublimated frustration has been witnessed – makes all the difference. 

We chatted until another patron came in and I asked if it would be alright to take a selfie. (You can see me in the bottom right and them on the top of the photo in the title above.)

* * *

As a young rabbi in the late 90’s, my duties included overseeing the prize room at the annual Purim Carnival. 

A line of tables separated the volunteers and prizes from the kids and the tickets they wanted to redeem.

I noticed, every so often, one of the volunteers would go to the back of the converted first-floor classroom and ring a bell hanging from a string off a shelf. Like When they did so, the other volunteers would immediately cheer.

I couldn’t figure out why they rang the bell and what it meant. So, at the end of the day, I asked, “What was that bell for?”

I was answered with a laugh and explanation:

The bell is stress relief.

These kids sometimes really are frustrating — “I want the blue one, no, yellow, no, blue, red, not blue, red… no blue.” 

When we get frustrated, we stand up like we’re gonna do something and we hit the bell. It lets the team know we are frustrated.  So, we shout to give each other support. Otherwise we would feel alone in the frustrating moment.”

 

* * *

I wonder if we complain to receive validation. 

 

* * *

 

Would you like (almost) instant support every time you get frustrated?

You can! 

Here’s how. 

Forward this to someone who would be willing to email or text you back.

 

<Name>,

Might you help me with a patience trick? 

The next time I get frustrated, instead of getting annoyed, I am going to send you the word “ding” – like I just rang a bell ?. Would you please respond with a smiley face or a heart to let me know that I’m not alone? I thank you. 

? ♥️ ? 

– Me

 

That’s it.

Annoyance hacked by camaraderie and technology.

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Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain

Dad and I went on our third father-son road trip in 2002. This one was in a rented RV. We leave LA, drive east, pass Palm Springs, and go south to Niland, by the shore of the Salton Sea—a huge unswimmable lake of salt, rotting fish corpses, and runoff fertilizer. From...

read more
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My friend Michelle sits four feet feet away from the stainless-steel fire pit in my backyard. I’m on the other side, also four feet away. We are having a small, Covid-safe inauguration celebration. We are drinking G & Ts with Hendricks, a fancy tonic, and slices...

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