When problems arise, stay calm and remain open to unusual solutions.

One morning on my way to the coffee shop by my house, I walked to my car to grab a pair of sunglasses only to realize the entire right side had been spray painted with a long cyan blue squiggle. Not one panel, but all four. At the time I owned a white station wagon, providing a nice, large canvas for the ding-dong who decided to play Banksy on my car.

What made this morning unique is that not only did I decide at the last minute to work from home, but also my friend and neighbor decided to join me on the coffee run. I didn’t even notice it until she yelled, “Oh my god, what happened to your car?” Puzzled, I brushed it off and started to walk away when again she yelled, “Your car, someone spray painted your car!” Because of the shadows, I couldn’t even see it until I took my frames off and saw the blue swirls. Ugh. I took a deep breath and said, “Well, this is why I have insurance.  Let’s head to breakfast.” Aghast, she continued to carry on until our neighbor came over to see what was wrong. When Alyssa pointed out the vandalism, she suggested I issue a police report and also offered up some Acetone in case I wanted to attempt to remove the paint myself. This would have never occurred to me, but I figured I had nothing to lose at this point. She brought it over with a few paper towels, and like magic the blue paint was completely gone as easily as one would erase ink from a white board. Not even the clear coat was disrupted.

The moral of this story is multifaceted. Serendipity was at play here. Had I gone to work as usual, I wouldn’t have walked to coffee with Alyssa. Had I not gone to coffee with Alyssa, I would have never seen the paint, and it would have had more time to dry, making it more difficult to remove. Had Alyssa not been so vocal, my neighbor wouldn’t have heard her and came over to investigate. Had she not come over, I wouldn’t have been offered such an easy and wonderful solution to the problem. I was also open to an unusual solution that I wouldn’t have thought of on my own. As far as I knew, Acetone was used to remove nail polish, not spray paint on a car. My only solution would have been to get it repainted, which would have cost me a lot of money. Finally, I stayed calm and realized the situation could have been worse.

Most problems in life aren’t as big as they first seem and usually have a variety of solutions. Take a step back, ask for help, and realize that it could always be worse. With a more peaceful approach, solutions appear like magic in the form of creative ideas or even helpful people.