Tip and tip well

The chance to get a haircut – at long last – was a welcome moment.

The trimmers quickly brought flowing locks of salt and pepper hair back into a respectable summer haircut.

As the first customer since March 15, it was a chance to get filled in on the previous months and see what was involved for the stylist to get back into business. Along with masks, acceptable distancing, proper cleaning procedures and so on, the process for getting customers in and out the shop is far more extensive. I suggested perhaps the shop was running at half volume – that wasn’t far off.

I floated the notion of increasing rates to make up for the deficiency. Immediately the concern was expressed that customers may walk away or some would be hard pressed to pay more. The fact is, service businesses need to cover their costs or risk going out of business.

COVID-19 has been extremely hard on many small proprietors. The restauranteurs and tourist-related venues are running at a fraction of their capacity as well – if they are open at all. Many attempt serving on patios, which in itself doesn’t equate with the revenue needed to have a viable business. Locals wanting to support local have done their level best to buy up gift cards or do take-out orders.

As the weeks dragged on however, the hope for a sensible shutdown and reasonably quick opening didn’t materialize. Here we are 16 weeks into this crisis and we haven’t officially left stage two. Yet at the same time we haven’t begun to consider the impending harm of the second wave. Companies and individuals have lost an incredible amount of revenue they will never get back.

Prices will need to rise if these small businesses are to survive. In some cases, owners have wisely marched up rates to compensate for their increased costs, but for others less confident in price points, have the chat and let them know you understand their plight.  There’s nothing wrong with paying a fair price for good service. Working for nothing often has a tragic ending.

Tips are something we hope more people will consider. Tip the barber and your waitress well. They are working hard to make a living too.

Thanks to great teachers

School is out and report cards in the mail.

Students and parents are eagerly anticipating what that report will look like after kids have been home since mid-March. Has online learning worked, or have we simply been making the best of a bad situation? Time will tell.

There is no question that this pandemic too quickly forced far too many changes on an already taxed system. Dealing with remnants of the strike action and forcing children to stay home with parents stuck at home due to COVID-19 has made for a difficult time for all. We now look to the fall and wonder what education will look like then. There are many unknowns.

What we do know for certain is there are teachers who make the difference in students’ lives. Rather than instruct, they teach and encourage kids in ways that makes them thirst for knowledge and new experiences.

My son benefited from his time with Mrs. Sem (that’s what the kids call her anyway).

Through this crisis she has visited our home twice – at a safe a distance each time. Her enthusiasm for her students was evident in special sing-song video clips. The online training aids were organized in such a way to make it easy for parents and fun for kids.

She cared, she inspired and helped people get through a very tough time with grace and kindness.

Great teachers make all the difference in the world.