by Joanne Roberts
Is it just me, or did May just fly by? Coming at you with Month 3 of this pandemic. I hope everyone is staying well and taking care of themselves.
Twenty two minutes ago, our province began Phase Two of its opening. Businesses, including my own, are able to open while following social distancing measures. Some of my friends and colleagues with small businesses have decided to open their doors to customers again, mostly the ones with physical retail locations, but some colleagues with businesses like mine that operate from the home have decided not to open. Myself included.
Coming to this decision was easy, but difficult at the same time. Having contact with people face to face rather than through a screen was so inviting. The prospect of people coming to my home again, to breathe new life within these four walls, was very tempting. I miss my students. I hope they miss me. Teaching online is working well as it explores our strengths and weaknesses in different ways, but I really miss the time I have affectionately dubbed The Before. (I didn’t make that up just now what are you talking about.)
As the world tries to figure itself out, I’ve been needing to shuffle lessons around a lot more. Prior to everything shutting down, I was pretty strict about my make-up lesson policy, which is; make-ups are not guaranteed and are subject to my discretion. Clients pay for a set lesson time every week, and it should be a priority in their schedules. After all, you wouldn’t ask an entire soccer team to reschedule their set practice for someone who couldn’t make it, right? Of course, there are always exceptions. If my students missed my lesson because there was a big blizzard and they didn’t want to drive 45 minutes to my house, I’d consider giving them a different time. But now with the world operating online, and with my spare time not spent on acting ventures, I’m finding myself to be much more flexible. There’s enough stress going on, if I can accommodate clients who are still graciously paying me for lessons, I will do it. Maybe instead of an evening singing lesson, the whole family wants to go for a walk instead. I can understand why during these times, that sounds much more tempting than a 45 minute lesson indoors. As long as I get to see the same smiling faces every week and catch up, as if there’s some semblance of normalcy from The Before, I’m a pretty happy camper. (Stop trying to make The Before happen, Joanne, it’s not going to happen.)
I went into this month thinking that this would be the most boring month of all. I finally got settled with my routine, my students with theirs. What else was there left to do except continue teaching? Well, it seems there are always surprises during a pandemic, and it may have something to do with my previous point. Because I’ve been so flexible with switching around lessons, I began to forget when they were. This week, I was sitting at my dining table and watching some YouTube videos when suddenly I realized - it’s 11:39am. I was supposed to be in a lesson at 11:00am. It literally ends in six minutes. Just yesterday the same thing happened. Both of these lessons came at times when I don’t normally take clients, so it was easy to understand why I forgot. But also - my students ended up forgetting as well. I would call late and no one would pick up, or I would get a message hours later apologizing for missing the lesson. (Admittedly, there was one point this month where I didn’t even realize I missed a lesson until I got an apology text.)
I’m a paper planner kind of girl, so I write down all my appointments so I don’t forget. But… it doesn’t work when you just don’t look at the planner because you assume you don’t have anything to do that day. So with this emerging pattern of repeatedly forgetting lessons, I’m going into this next month asking myself, what can I do so that my clients and I remember to show up for our damn lessons.
That’s the goal as we head into Month 4. I’ll see you all on the other side and let you know how it goes.
By the way, if anyone is asking, O’Malley the Irishcat is doing great. He sits on a stool by the door so he can feel the breeze from outside.
Mood, my dude. Mood.
Joanne Roberts is a multilingual Canadian actress best known for originating the role of Janelle in the Evie nominated co-production of Que faire d'Albert/What To Do With Albert. She is also a producer for Joie de Survivre, and is a co-founder for the Winnipeg theatre company, Wonderful and Meatballs.