How to Solve an Unsolvable Problem

My printer is extremely persnickety. It rejects all types of card stock except one. And sometimes, it even rejects that one. You know, just for fun.


Given that I run a card shop, this is a problem.

For awhile, though, it wasn’t an unsolvable one. The solution was simple: keep feeding the paper over and over until the printer, either out of pity or exhaustion, decides to accept it after all. My printer is a cruel and stubborn machine–but luckily, so am I.

Then came the day when I needed to switch card stock suppliers…which meant I also needed to switch card stock.

Frantically, I tried all the obvious solutions. I requested samples from multiple suppliers. I test printed in different weights and textures. I re-investigated all the possible printer settings. Nothing worked.

At this point, I was pretty convinced that my problem had become unsolvable. My printer was non-functioning, and I couldn’t afford to buy a new one. Futilely, I had looked at the situation from every possible angle.


Except the right one.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is how I solved my unsolvable problem: I rotated a piece of cardstock 90 degrees.

It turns out that if I feed my printer the card stock in portrait rather than landscape orientation, it works completely fine. It always prints on the first try. It accepts every kind of card stock under the sun. And, perhaps most unfathomably, it even prints more than one card at a time.

And all it took was a change in perspective. Literally.

I know the point of this post seems kind of mundane. But I’m writing about it because this exact solution–rotating something 90 degrees–also solved another one of my shop logistics problems in the same week.

That’s when I realized how frequently I was ignoring this whole “change your perspective” thing. My printer problem, of course, was small and prosaic. But it made me wonder how many larger existential problems I could be solving in the same way–just by making the slightest change in perspective.

I also realized that changing your perspective doesn’t always have to mean something abstract and difficult to accomplish, like “think more positive thoughts” or “feel more gratitude every day.” Sometimes, it just means rotating a piece of paper. Or getting out of your chair. Or lying face down on the bed instead of face up. Easy peasy.

Finally, I was also reminded that sometimes, when dealing with frustrating things (or people), the problem may simply be that you haven’t figured out the right way to interact with them, and not that they have a personal vendetta against you. This especially holds true if “they” happen to be inanimate objects.

happy printer


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