Today I feel like ranting.
My problem is really about me. In an effort to be charitable, understanding and Christlike, I often find myself feeling less than charitable, frustrated, and sometime, plain angry. In a way, it’s my fault. It’s my fault for giving people the benefit of the doubt. It’s my fault for trying to be nice. It’s my fault for assuming that people appreciate my time and my talents. However, days like today remind me that often, people feel that they have a right to my time, money and talents.
Here is the deal… I give away my knowledge and passion right and left. I spend countless hours attempting to help others learn new skills and feel productive and of worth with little to no compensation. However, I am learning more and more that serving isn’t really appreciated. My service is now expected and most of the time rejected if it doesn’t meet their definition of fair or I have not jumped high enough to their exceptions.
I realize that I control the hours I volunteer. I control what work I will do and what I can ignore because it isn’t in my contract. I realize that I really don’t need to be helping out. I don’t need to work on making education better and I don’t need to come up with new crazy ideas. I don’t need to spend my time reading and grading papers. I don’t need to be volunteering at all. I could go home. Now that is a novel idea.
But there is something that drives me to be a better person… to be a person that tries to make the world a better a place. There is something in me that drives me to go above and beyond. And that something has now landed me in a place of expectation without compensation. (I do recognize that my friend who is immediately impacted by my volunteer hours is grateful. However, it is clear that nothing of significance will change as long as I am wiling to volunteer. And it makes me wonder if my departure is what is needed to execute change, real change).
I know I should tell a private voice student that I will no longer be teaching them until their bill is paid, but I somehow believe their sad stories, their constant assurance that they will bring it next week, the “good reasons” for cancelling a lesson 10 minutes past the start time or the “I-won’t-even-bother-to-show-up” I get from some students. Dude! You still have to pay me for the time I have already given you. If you don’t like how I teach you stop coming. Stop asking to fit into my schedule. But pay me for the service I already gave you.
As of today students owe me nearly $2000 for lessons I have already taught. I will most likely only collect half of that.
Oh…. and just because I volunteer a ton doesn’t mean that is all I am about! It doesn’t mean that I am okay changing our agreement and “volunteering” for your will and pleasure.
Oh… and then to continually “take” from me, but then run around trashing me for my efforts to be nice… that is not okay.
Over the years I have taught thousands of dollars worth of voice lessons to students that never paid, and somehow felt they needed to trash me to others. I kept going because I was trying to be a good person. But in fact, I am a fool. I believed they were grateful. I believed that their Christian upbringing and claim of a religious heart wouldn’t allow them to “stiff” me. Yup. I was dumb.
News flash. Taking the time of someone and not paying for an agreed upon service is THEFT. It is STEALING! Theft of services is a real legal term for a crime which is committed when a person obtains valuable services by deception, force, threat, or other unlawful means, i.e. without lawfully compensating the provider for these services. You are a thief!
So… all the money I never received for babysitting… all the money I never received for a voice lesson taught. You stole from me. You stole from my kids. Not only did you steal from me the money I could have used to pay a medical bill, buy groceries, or even clothes for my kids, you stole time I could have given to my kids, my grandkids, my house work, my garden and even my health.
You have stollen from me. You have stolen my money I earned teaching you. You have stolen my time. You have stolen from my kids, who think I spend more time “mothering” you then them and they are right. You have stolen my faith in you. You have stolen my respect for you. You have stolen my willingness to give. You have stolen the joy I received from serving and teaching.
No More! NO MAS!
Lessons must be paid for in advance or the day of.
I will no longer go out of my way to help prepare for auditions, etc. I will only help those who are willing to respect me, my time, my knowledge.
If it means there is a major change in my life style or how I spend my time… okay… I can live with that.
You are no longer invited to steal from me.
You are no longer invited to steal from my kids.
You are done.