As I strive, during these troubling times, to make my count-your-blessings list longer than my count-your-troubles one, I’ve discovered that one item is on both lists.
I’d never even heard of it until Covid-19 forced us to hunker down. Now, I zoom several times a month. So far, thank goodness, I haven’t had to zoom for anything work-related. That could be disastrous. My kids are all doing their jobs from home and act as though zoom is no more complicated than a phone call. My son-in-law, who’s an attorney in Kentucky, even zooms his court appearances. He wears a coat and tie above the waist and his running shorts below. So far, the judge hasn’t said a thing.
The first time I zoomed, it was with my Sunday School class. The device I chose was my i-phone, mainly because it has a strong magnet on the back of the case. My plan was to affix the phone to the metal door on my front porch and enjoy the outdoors while connecting with my classmates. That didn’t work out so well. For one thing, the sun was too hot. For another, my neighbor decided to fire up his lawn mower right when class started. So I moved inside to my office. Too dark. I moved to the kitchen. Too messy. I moved to the back porch. Weak internet connection.
Soon, I got a text from a friend. “Whatever you do, don’t go to the bathroom,” she wrote. “We’re all watching you wander around your house.” Yikes! I plopped onto the couch and stayed put.
Though I don’t yet have the perfect answer about where to sit when I zoom, at least I’ve figured out the right device. It’s not my phone or my i-pad. I’m zooming via my laptop computer because it lets me see lots of squares at one time. I can’t help but think of a tic-tac-toe board when I zoom, which makes me happy because I can pretend I’m on the The Brady Bunch or Hollywood Squares, except that I can see twenty-five squares at a time instead of just nine.
Not only have I mastered the art of seeing everybody who’s at the zoom meeting, but I’ve also figured out how to mute my microphone so as not to disturb whoever’s talking. No barking dogs or neighbors firing up their lawnmowers or the icemaker dropping a big load of cubes into the bin.
I like to set my computer up on a table because I use a mouse to work it. And I need to be close to an electrical outlet because my battery is too weak to go the whole forty minutes a zoom session lasts. The hard part is figuring out where at the table to sit. Experts advise that your light source, be it a window or a lamp, be directly in front of rather than behind you. They recommend looking straight into or slightly up at the camera if you want to avoid showing body parts that sag more than they used to. And they stress the importance of an uncluttered background, which is hard to achieve at home even if everything is tidy. A kitchen has stuff in it. A living room has stuff in it. A bookcase has stuff in it. What’s a zoomer to do?
These same experts also advise zoom participants to dress as though they were attending a meeting in person. Meaning no pajamas. I’m proud to say I follow that rule. Kind of, anyway. I wear a presentable shirt while zooming. Earrings, too. Maybe even a little mascara and lipstick. But anyone who thinks I’m going to change out of my pajama pants while spending a relaxing Sunday morning at home is living in a dream world.
(August 22, 2020)