Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Decision Overload

Deciding on paint colors was a daunting challenge for me

A missionary family from Zambia recently moved back to the US.  I got an e-mail from the wife saying that they had bought a house and were having new paint, carpet, and flooring installed.  I groaned inwardly, knowing that the process of selecting those items had likely been a nightmare.  Sure enough, when I talked to her later, she confided that it had been very difficult. 

            I knew because I have been through it.  In fact, I still struggle with what I call “Decision Overload.”   Here’s why.  When we built our house in Zambia, the man in charge of construction told me to go into Kalomo and pick out the color of paint I wanted on the walls.  So I trekked into ChiChi Hardware and asked for paint samples.  I was given a faded, worn-out card featuring a grand total of five colors:  kelly green, royal blue, white, black, and “honeysuckle” which looked like a khaki tan.  I chose the honeysuckle—and it turned out to be a light golden yellow that I loved. 

            Choosing something like toothpaste was equally simple.  You could buy Colgate in a small tube or a large tube.  That’s it.  Soda?  Coke, Fanta Orange, Fanta Grape, or Sprite.   Deciding was easy.  And for many other items, the choice was to buy the one brand featured at the store or do without because there was no other choice. 

            Now imagine what happened when we returned to the US and I went to Lowe’s to pick out the paint for the house we were moving into.  Not five choices but FIVE HUNDRED choices gleamed at me in the Valspar display.  The Eddie Bauer display nearby offered another hundred or so choices.  I didn’t even venture down the aisle to the Olympic rack. 

I am embarrassed to admit that I drove the 16 miles one way to the nearest Lowe’s THREE DAYS in a row to get those little sample cans to try out various colors.  Finally David insisted that we make a decision and get the paint.  Halfway there I panicked and told him to turn the car around and go back.  “I can’t do it!  I can’t choose from all those colors!”  I told him. 

            He patiently insisted that we could and we must choose the colors and get the painting done.  And I did choose a color  (I tried to match my honeysuckle walls in Zambia) and panicked as it went on the walls and wished I had chosen white.   (Of course white is not an easy choice either, since there are at least 20 different shades of white to choose from.)

            So when you deal with a returning missionary, be patient.  Dinner at the Golden Corral buffet is not the best idea during the first few weeks.  Even a trip to Walmart can overwhelm a newbie who needs a tube of toothpaste.   Decision Overload takes time to overcome. 

            We’ve been back in the US for two years now.  The top photo shows the collection of sample cans from my latest kitchen-painting project.  The good news is that I ended up with a great color that I love—and no meltdowns this time. 
My new kitchen colors

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