Quarantimes Week 26: The Hard Conversations

September 9th, 2020

Twice in the last month I’ve ordered something online from a small business and had it sent to the wrong place. I am moving too fast and making tons of mistakes. This is one of the unfortunate side effects of the Quarantimes. Trying to keep my full-time freelance business afloat with a husband who is an essential worker, two rambunctious five-year-olds who’ve been at home for six months, and the non stop intense stress of worrying about getting sick is getting to me. I don’t always do a great job with the details anymore.

My job consists of wrapping my mind around complicated technology paradigms and how they enable business and solve problems for humanity, then writing about it in a way anyone can relate to and understand. I go to order my kids leggings without holes in the knees for school late at night on my phone as an afterthought, forgetting that even though I have ordered from Primary dozens of times, I recently bought my cousin a gift. The Primary shipment defaulted to my aunt’s address instead of mine, but I didn’t notice because the phone screen is tiny and it was late and fuck I’m tired all the time right now! Not to mention that my eyes are going from staring at a tiny little screen nonstop.

Screen Shot 2020-09-09 at 10.16.06 AM

So it was funny when I got into it a little bit with a local Vermont maker who posted an aggressively snippy thing about people who can’t bother to check their shipping address on their orders and then make special requests to change it. I have not ordered from this maker yet, but I felt inclined to comment that we’re all just really doing our best here AND trying to support local small businesses whenever we can. She responded that I should go back to using Amazon if I can’t be bothered to respect the time of small business owners, and informed me that “forgetting once is a mistake. Twice is being inconsiderate.” 

Did she just call me inconsiderate??

More importantly, are we all just losing our ability to be kind to each other? 

I am quite sure I will continue to make tons of mistakes, every single day. The good news is that both of my poorly addressed orders worked out. In the first case because my kind aunt took the time to mail me the leggings (thanks, Just Joan). In the second case because a sweet postal worker in White Salmon, Washington, took the time to problem solve with me. Not either of their jobs, but they did it. Cuz, you know, humanity!

The pottery brand, on the other hand, deleted all of my comments after leaving a bunch of obnoxious burns. All that remains on their post is a carefully curated string of comments obsequiously flattering to their brand. I was bummed to lose my enchantment with this local maker, but I certainly have other local businesses and makers to support. 

Ironically I had already decided that this was going to be the month I have all the hard conversations I’ve been putting off. “Random potter in Northern Vermont” was not on that list, but I do have a list. You do too, right? No?

Okay well I do. It’s the conversations I could easily just avoid forever, but then I wouldn’t be acting out of total integrity. The good friends I’ve recently unfollowed on social media because they support you-know-who and vocally denigrate the #BLM movement. The billing department at the pediatrician that charged me $500 for a basic lab test when my daughter had cryptosporidium earlier this summer (river water! yum!). The neighbor I am trying to track down who sounds like they are firing an actual canon in their yard?

But also, I am intensely committed to having these difficult conversations with kindness, whenever possible. What I’m realizing is that there is a big difference between being nice and being kind. 

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

What I am reading:

The Overstory. I have read so many books about racial injustice and just general sorrow this year. This one is about trees. And death and general sorrow.

What I am listening to:

Shit. I just discovered an absolutely delicious nitro can of cold brew at the coop that costs $5.

Not much, thanks to my new noise-cancelling headphones!

What I am eating

Fresh Macs now in season!

Fresh Macs now in season!

What I am working on:

A “Get out the vote” campaign starting with this first article, “How Voting Affects Your Financial Future” for my new nonprofit client, SaverLife

For Immersive Learning startup Strivr: Culture-building at scale for essential retailer Sprouts


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4 Responses to “Quarantimes Week 26: The Hard Conversations”

  1. Thanks again for your gift of words. Always a pleasure!

    My own “hard conversations” occur mostly in my mind because I’m afraid I may not be able to sustain the kindness factor.
    Yesterday, it was a fellow we encountered on our dog walk, sitting maskless on the same bench as a friend of ours—2 feet from him— and going on and on about the “liberals losing it” about our recent “day without sunshine.” As if the apocalypse cares about party affilliation!
    I bit my lip on that one, then told the friend today I had been concerned for his safety. He said, “Oh, yeah. I didn’t think about that. But he seemed like such a nice guy!” There is kindness to which I can only aspire!

    Rock on, Joslyn!

  2. Sarah Botham says:

    I saw that comment about amazon on your Instagram and I was kind of appalled by the lack of empathy on the part of the potter. We’re all making a lot of mistakes right now and I feel like the best thing about this whole pandemic is that it’s encouraged some return to supportive community life (at least for some people). People are being forced to think about others. Some clearly don’t enjoy it. If you’re trying to sell a product, you’ve put yourself in a service industry. This person clearly doesn’t understand that catering to customers and community is one of the basic tenets of successful business ownership. I’m sorry you experienced this.

    • I am pretty thick skinned but I won’t lie, it irritated me. I felt like I had to stick up for those of us who are really trying but making mistakes left and right cuz J Christ, this shit is hard right now!

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