How To Live Artfully


his week took me on business out of state. I travel light, and when it came to swipe my credit card at the airport terminal, I realized I was a few grams too light.

My credit card had taken a vacation the night before and had an away message in its place.

“Dear Owner, you’re screwed.”

I took a deep breath and smiled. I felt like James Bond. How would I hop a flight, rent a car, eat, stay in a hotel, do business, and get back home safely without any form of currency?

I only carry two things in my wallet — my driver’s license, and my credit card. Both memorized. If you rob me, have fun while you can. The card carries a very low balance, the license is old, and if I find you there will only be one story. My story.

I calmly and immediately kicked into gear. The airport just needed my license and a strip search.

The hotel complied with a simple fax. I could order delivery pizza on my cell phone or eat on my hotel tab.

The rental car companies were not so compliant. I got two phone rings, some prompts, and a person supposedly at the location where I was to pick up the car.

“Ma’am, I reserved a car that I would like to pay for upfront right now with my credit card. Can I do that?”

“Uh, you will need to present card when you get here,” a woman stuttered in broken English.

“So if I can only give you my driver’s license and not my credit card, even though I am telling you to authorize my card now, you are saying I cannot rent the car?”

“Ah, yes. You will need to bring credit card with you. You can also use debit card.”

“OK, may I speak with your manager please?”

“Uh, yes. Just one moment.” She put me on hold for a while and then in a more cheerful voice answered with a different name.

“Hello Wendy,” I said trying not to laugh. Does this lady think I am dense? “I have a really tough situation here, and I need your help.”

“You will need to bring credit card with you,” she said in the same broken English.

“So you don’t want my business?” I said, knowing I was wasting my time.

“Ah, yes. Uh, no. Ah, yes. Sir, I sorry. You will need to bring credit card with you.”

On to Plan B. Number of trips divided by how many available co-workers and friends I know in town.

Plan C? Talking a cab driver into typing the credit card number into his machine instead of having a card present.

Plan D? Don’t do this again Dolan!

How did it turn out? Nothing close to what flashed through my head when I realized my credit card was not in my wallet.

Everything went swell, and although a little awkward in places, the only last hurdle I have to figure out is how to get out of the parking lot without a credit card. But I’m sure there is a creative way to get around that as well.

Another day in the life of Jeff Dolan, painted outside the lines. The next time someone asks me, “What did you do today?” I can smile and tell them the usual, or I can take them on a mini-adventure.

Life is full of mini-adventures. They are the things and events that are out of the ordinary for you. And they mark our lives.

We remember the brush strokes that are out of line. We want to share these experiences with others. We are the only creatures on earth with this characteristic.

Art sets humans apart. We purposefully create it in our lives.

Whether it be on a canvas, a computer, a stage, or our minds, we paint new works of art into our lives each day.

Time becomes our canvas, and each stroke outside the lines brings new color, memories, and experiences into a larger and larger picture we are creating.

We can choose to cry over a line gone astray, or we can ebb and flow with it, making it into something positive.

Life is not best lived dramatically or fretfully. It is not best navigated by giving up or giving in when your situation turns against you.

It is best lived artfully.

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2 Comments How To Live Artfully

  1. mariabrophy

    Jeff, I loved this story. Not just the story, but how you told it. You are a good story-teller!

    Often when I'm traveling, when things go wrong (like the time I got strip-searched in the airport at Perth) or when something scary happens (like being held up at knife-point in Bali, and surviving) – I laugh and look at it as something unique to write about later!

    Your story shows how going with the flow can make losing all your means of currency in a foreign place just go, well, smoothly.

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