I was an introvert before it was cool. It’s something I intuitively knew about myself almost from the beginning, though I didn’t find the word for it until a quiz I took in a glossy preteen magazine: “Are you an innie or an outie?”
This means a lot of things for teaching in general and how I run my business specifically, but for now I want to touch on one of the smaller aspects of it: doors.
I bring all of my tutoring to you. That’s one of the conveniences of hiring a private tutor. And in my work I’ve been to a lot of apartment buildings, and all of those buildings have doors. Self-evident. Not all of these buildings have the same philosophy about front doors. Not so self-evident.
Sometimes the front doors are unlocked when I come to visit, and I can just let myself in. (My own apartment building, for example, locks the front door at something like 8:30 or 9:00 PM.) Other times the front doors need a key code to unlock them. In this case, people give me the code ahead of time and I can let myself in as if it were unlocked. These are my favorite front door philosophies: minimal fuss.
Other buildings have no means of allowing a non-resident instantaneous access. This is where I start to sweat things. Not because I always have to contact a customer to get in—after a few lessons, it feels as natural to text a customer as it does one of my friends. What sets my introvert nerves on edge is that there is always the possibility for a wildcard factor to disrupt the routine: someone else trying to let me into the building.
In this kind of front door situation, the “let me in” text message functions as a sort of courtesy: “I’m here! Time to put your pants on and clean up a bit!” It quickly becomes expected (at least, it would feel that way for me, if the roles were reversed). Bypassing that courtesy and showing right up at the door feels a little…untoward. Unfair. But then ignoring someone holding the door open for me also feels rude, and simply telling them, “Nej, det är lugnt, tack.” opens up a whole possible conversation that I am not prepared to have. “Yes, it IS biting cold out, but the person I’m here to see will let me in soon and I’d rather she let me in on her own terms than I turn up randomly on her doorstep. Yes, she’s expecting me, but still.” So far, I’ve just said nothing and fiddled with my phone, like I’m waiting for someone to come meet me. It’s worked pretty well.
Every time I arrive at an apartment complex of this last variety I experience a small moment of panic: will I have those five or ten seconds to myself? Or will I have to navigate an imaginary conflict of manners over the door?