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Void Filler

I visit a shipping store by my house quite often. Since I work from home, it’s almost a daily occurrence that I need to send a package or a letter. I’ve settled into a comfortable relationship where the staff knows me. They greet me warmly and by name, and I fondly think of them as my coworkers.

Yesterday I set out with two letters I needed to mail and a book I had been meaning to return to a friend in New Mexico. My friend hadn’t mentioned wanting the book — which I had borrowed at least four years ago — back. In fact, I was fairly certain she had no idea I had it and had probably forgotten about it completely. But it seemed like the right thing to do. The box selection at the store was limited, and the one that fit the book the best allowed the book to shift around a little. I frowned, imagining dented edges and my friend furrowing her brow and thinking “I didn’t even remember having that book, but now that I see it, I do remember it, and it definitely wasn’t in that condition when I had it.” Pondering the irreparable damage I might do to our friendship as a result of a damaged book, I asked for Styrofoam peanuts to fill the rest of the box. “Hmm, I think we are out of the peanuts. Will any void filler be okay?” My coworker, James, questioned.

I looked up from where I was browsing greeting cards, “What?” I exclaimed with bewilderment. “That stuff you put in boxes is called void filler?” I repeated, slowly, my eyes wide.

We are always looking for that magic bullet; a quick way to remove hurt or sadness or cope with the challenges of our lives. Who knew you could buy a whole bag of it for $9.99?

Author: Alyssa Forcehimes, PhD

An expert in behavior change, substance use disorders and empathic communication, Dr. Alyssa Forcehimes serves as President of The Change Companies® and Train for Change Inc.® She lives in Arizona with her husband and two daughters.