For animals, they are often designated as “arc of flight” — that invisible periphery where violation results in immediate retreat or thoughtless stampede. For humans, it is identified as one’s “space”, or “privacy bubble”, and while self-control and societal norms have curtailed and somewhat dulled the thousands of years of evolutionary refinements to reactive instincts, the palpable discomfort manifested, the shifting unease of taboos violated, and for some, an onset of panic and heightened anxiety are the resulting characteristics of Darwinian antecedents.
Comfort zones apply to the generic aegis of such unseen safety nets. For most of us, it is comprised of predictability and the security which comes from repetitive monotony. That is why, even to one’s detriment, one will cling to the known quantity, even if the attraction of the unknown outweighs with obvious benefits and accruals. Like the frog which sits calmly in a pot of water ever increasingly rising in temperature, the person who walks about within the confines of one’s comfort zone is in danger always of violative harm.
For the Federal employee and the U.S. Postal worker who suffers from a medical condition, such that the medical condition begins to impact one’s ability to perform all of the essential elements of one’s positional duties, the question of the flashpoint — the intersection of continuing in one’s capacity and the harm it inflicts by doing so — is a complex admixture of needs, wants, comfort zones and the desire to persist.
Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers are a hard-working bunch who, in their collective stubbornness, refuse to give up. Whether under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset matters not; it is not the system, the benefits nor the years of service; rather, it is often the career itself and the involvement with the “mission of the agency”. It is a sense of belonging, of being part of a group of individuals, an agency, a department, and always with a sense of purpose and sometimes with a clarity of future endeavors.
Having gone to work for these many years, the value of daily routine cannot be underestimated, and therein lies the essence of one’s comfort zone: life and the foreseeable future.
Filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is a violation of one’s comfort zone. It is tantamount to entering the arc of flight for a flock of sheep, or the privacy bubble at a social gathering. But when a medical condition mandates the necessity of a step for self-preservation, any consideration for one’s comfort zone should be set aside, as the road to attaining the purposive end of an OPM Disability Retirement annuity may test the very fabric of invisible characteristics yet to be revealed.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire