You’re Not Quite On The Owner’s Tempo  

, , , , , | Working | September 25, 2019

(I work as a private guitar teacher with 30 to 40 students that I see for half-hour lessons once a week. I work as a contractor for a studio, which means I pay a portion of my lesson income to the studio to “rent” my room. My contract specifies that I am not an employee of the studio. It is springtime, which means that it’s time to re-enroll students for the fall semester of lessons. I have recently accepted a school teaching job and am reducing my hours at the studio to half. Naturally, this has caused some confusion and a parent has asked to spend the last five minutes of their kid’s lesson time discussing the new schedule with me.)

Customer: “I was wondering if you had any lesson times available in your schedule for a Wednesday next fall.”

Me: “Sure, let me check the book and see what I have available!”

(The studio owner refuses to give each of us a copy of our schedule and instead keeps a binder at the front desk of the studio which is extremely disorganized, constantly changing, and full of her personal notes. Everyone uses this binder every day, so it is in terrible condition.)

Me: “Okay, it looks like I have a Wednesday at five open. Would that work for you?”

Customer: “Yes, that’s perfect!”

Me: “Okay, let me just make a note here to reserve your spot. If you can just pay the $25 deposit, the time slot is yours.”

(The customer proceeds to get out cash and talk to the girl at the desk about the deposit. At this point, the owner of the studio — who was in the middle of teaching a lesson — comes out of her room and immediately stands between me and the customer.)

Studio Owner: “Can I help you with your re-enrollment?”

Customer: “No, we were just about to sign me up for a Wednesday because that works better for my schedule.”

Me: “Yeah, I thought since that spot is open in the schedule I could put her there.”

Studio Owner: *to me, like I should have known this already, apparently by reading her mind since this information was written down nowhere* “No. I’ve already scheduled someone in that spot.”

Me: “Oh, well, is there another spot available?”

(We proceed to go through each opening in the schedule, with the owner telling me each one is full, even though they are empty in the book.)

Me: “What about this one? You told me Friday this one is open.”

Studio Owner: “No. I don’t remember who’s there but someone is.”

Me: “Can we check?”

Studio Owner: “No.” *with a hint of nastiness to her voice, to the customer* “Look, I told you earlier when we talked about this, you can either have the spot you have now, or you can have no spot.”

Me: “But—”

Studio Owner: “Those are your options. Have a nice day!”

(The owner then sweeps off back to her lesson. I look at the customer. The customer looks at me. She mouths, “Wow,” and I just nod.)

Me: “So, I thought I had control over my schedule, seeing as I’m a contractor, but apparently not.”

Customer: “Yeah, I guess you don’t!”

Me: “Listen, I’ll give you my phone number. I may be able to arrange a Tuesday lesson if you are available.”

Customer: “Would you be able to come to our home?”

(I have a feeling that this is not encouraged at the studio, especially with the owner being who she is. But I nod to the customer and lower my voice, telling her to text me and we will talk about it. We quickly discuss a few details and she thanks me and leaves. During my next lesson, I get a text from another teacher at the studio saying she needs to speak to me urgently. So, between my next lessons, she pulls me aside in the hall.)

Coworker: “Don’t ever do that! Okay? Seriously. Never. You are not allowed!”

Me: “Oh, okay. I didn’t realize it was such a big deal. I’m sorry.”

Coworker: “I mean it! Don’t ever do that. [Owner] can and will sue you! Why would you ever poach our students? That hurts everyone here! Have you done it before?”

(I am extremely done with being told off by someone who is not anywhere near my boss, but I am not the type to burn bridges, so I decide to try and get her on my side and cool the raging inferno.)

Me: “No, I haven’t done that before. I didn’t realize that I couldn’t do that. Thanks for looking out for me; you always do that and I appreciate that. I have to go teach my lesson now.”

Coworker: “I’ll look the other way this time, and I’m not trying to villainize you, but I would hate for you to lose all that income if you lose your job.” *implying that she will tell the owner*

(Now, first of all, I am a mind-your-own-business type of gal, so I don’t understand why this other teacher decided it was her business to threaten me with losing my job and being sued. But I take it all in grace because what can you really do? Later, I am chatting with the girl at the desk after everyone else has gone home. I usually teach late and am often left to lock up.)

Desk Girl: “That was crazy today.”

Me: *joking* “Yeah, I have no idea what I did, but apparently I messed up pretty bad. Let’s hope I still have a job tomorrow.”

Desk Girl: “Yeah, after you had that talk with [Coworker], she came out here and asked me if you’d ever done that before, then went through [Owner]’s desk to find the contract to show it to you.”

(Everything in this studio was extremely disorganized so, of course, she never found it. The desk girl was just a high schooler. How was she supposed to know what I do with my time outside the studio? This whole experience made me realize how crazy my coworkers are. Now I’m waiting for the text from the customer. I’ll have to explain that I can’t teach them because I was threatened by a lawsuit. I’m sure that’ll get them to resign. Now I’ve lost a customer and that income. Gotta love it.)

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