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My friend Christine and her husband were vacationing in what they called a “quaint little Mediterranean village.” While there they found a perfect summerhouse for sale and immediately they began negotiations and purchased the property. As the story goes, the house was in fairly good condition but in need some interior work and a “facelift.” The exterior was weather beaten which gave the house an abandoned look when compared to all the other glistening white houses on the hillside overlooking to ocean. It was a spectacular view of mountains, blue sky and the aquamarine ocean. The new house owners were anxious to spruce up their new home and bring it up par with the other houses on the hillside. They welcomed the seller’s recommendation of a local handyman, who just happened to be a painter and his cousin.

After interviewing the cousin-painter-handyman they entered into an agreement that he would do the necessary work to make the place livable and in keeping with the original flavor of the villa and the community. After choosing the fixtures and the colors the happy couple were ready to return to the US. Since their flight was scheduled for the following afternoon, they decided stop by their new house on their way to the airport. To their surprise cousin-painter-handyman was not at the house though he was scheduled to begin work immediately. They did, however, notice that the color swatches they had given him were just where they had left them on the table. They took another look at their selection of colors and were very pleased with their choices.

On the drive to the airport, their car passed the cousin-painter-handyman on the narrow road. He was riding on a motorcycle heading back toward the house and he was carrying a small can of paint on each of the handlebars. Of course, they thought it odd that he only had the two small cans of paint but they concluded that he was probably using them to test for quality and the like. They returned home. Regular phone calls to cousin-painter-handyman assured them that the work was going along very well and that they would be able to stay in the house when they returned the following month.

The following month they couldn’t wait to get to their villa. They took a night flight and when they arrived it was early morning. By the time they collected their luggage it was already mid morning. The ride to the country was beautiful, the sun was shining brightly and the sky was without a cloud. It was simply magnificent. Suddenly a motorcycle whizzed by them and to their surprise it was cousin-painter-handyman and he was carrying yet another small can of paint on his handlebar. As they discussed the oddity of this, the driver said, “Oh him? For the past month he’s been doing that a couple times a day. He rides down to the store and buys paint sometimes one can sometimes two. A little later he’s back again.” The driver pointed at his head and made circling motion and they all laughed.

As the car pulled off the main road and onto the driveway, they caught a full panoramic view of the house. The driver hit the brakes as the bewildered couple jumped out of the car and raced up the hill. They couldn’t believe what they saw. The outside of the house looked like a collage in varying shades of white. The inside of the house was a myriad of colors. The “pale pink” room looked like a rose garden in full bloom displaying all the different hues of pink. When they found the cousin-painter-handyman he was on his break and explained that he would not be returning to work until later in the afternoon. That gave the stunned couple ample time to figure out what had happened. From the number of small cans of paint strewn all over the place and the color swatches still on the table, they were able to deduce that cousin-painter-handyman did not consider that there are different shades and subtle nuances of the colors including white: French vanilla, off white, true white, bright white, flat white, etc. Therefore, on each trip to the store he brought back the color but of a different shade. Do you know how many shares of white, blue pink and green there are?

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