Don’t Panic — Finding Opportunity in a Deluge of Adversity

The Podcasting Store
3 min readJan 19, 2024

by Drew Holmes

It was 7:30 am and the phone in my pocket buzzed to life. I checked to see who was calling and was immediately filled with dread. The store did not open until 10:00, but Carleen, my store manager, was on the line.

“We’re not going to be open today” she said in a controlled panic. “There’s water everywhere and I don’t know how to shut it off.”

“I’ll be right there.” I replied.

I had planned to leave soon anyway, but this emergency call hastened my departure. On the way I thought through the situation. The outside temperature was negative five and had been much lower overnight, so obviously a pipe had burst. I’m not a plumber, and if the problem was in the mechanical room there would also be potential electrical hazards, since that room contains the furnace, phone, and internet.

“Call the plumber,” I told Carleen as I called her back. “I’m not going to know how to shut the water off either.”

With that done I mentally worked down the list. After the water was shut off, we would need someone to come in and mitigate the damage. Then we would need to assess the condition of any inventory and fixtures that were affected by this incident, as well as the building itself.

Arriving at the store it was worse than I thought. As I was unlocking the door, I noticed the inside of the windows were covered in a layer of condensation. The sound of rushing water greeted me as I entered the store, and a cascade of liquid was falling from the ceiling above our string instrument area and pooling on the floor. The shelf where we stored instrument cases had broken free of its ceiling anchors and collapsed on the cellos below. A pile of school instruments awaiting repair estimates was nowhere to be found, likely somewhere underneath the debris. The water stain on the carpet spread as the deluge saturated the floor. All we could do was patiently wait for the plumber.

While in high school, I worked on the utility staff (a fancy word for “dish washer”) at a function hall. Catering events is high-speed and hectic and one night I was “catching” on the dish machine, a job best described as taking clean, nearly molten plates out of the dishwasher, letting them dry, and putting them away. Sweat pouring from my body I was lagging woefully behind, withering under the heat, pace, and pressure.

“Hey!” yelled Chris, my coworker on the other end of the dish machine. Seeing my situation he intervened with a miniature pep talk, “You don’t panic unless I do. Okay?”

“Okay,” I weakly replied, and returned to the task at hand.

With renewed focus I made it through the night relatively unscathed. At the end of our shift, something occurred to me.

“Chris, you told me not to panic unless you do.”


“You never panic, do you?”

His only reply was a toothy grin.

That night a thought occurred to me. When you panic not only do you not solve the problem, but you also now have less time in which to deal with it. Staying focused in the moment, assessing what needs to be done, and then doing it are essential steps in solving any problem. Besides, there will always be plenty of time to panic afterwards.

Minutes ticked by like weeks and the plumbers finally arrived and shut off the water. We began the task of sorting through the wreckage — instruments, display cases, walls, carpets. Rather than wallowing in the unfortunate situation we reminded ourselves that in the coming weeks what needs to be replaced will be replaced and what can be saved will be saved. Maintaining a positive attitude and not panicking kept us focused and just two days later the store was open again.


Walking through the sales floor a few days later, I am now flooded with ideas of what comes next. This disaster is an opportunity in disguise, a chance to reorganize and change the layout of the store. We need to move things around anyway, why not also make it better? We will work through the problems presented by this incident and when we do, we will be better than before. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.



The Podcasting Store

Music retail can be a fascinating business, with lessons learned not just about performing but also about business, mindset, and sales.