“Okay, I’m leaving now,” I told my husband. He glanced up, with a momentarily confused look on his face.

“Oh, you’re going there. I thought it was here,” he said, nodding toward the room where I usually “attend” meetings and events, sitting in front of the computer and logging in via Zoom. An understandable mistake, even though I had told him I would be going to the Writers Museum for a workshop.

For a second, an old television commercial popped into my head, the one with jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald shattering a glass when she hits a high note, and the narrator asking, “Is it live, or is it Memorex?”

The question now is, “Is it live, or is it online?” There’s a third option, too: “Is it hybrid?”

For more than a year during the pandemic, most meetings, events, work, school, and religious services were done online. As restrictions eased, some of these went back to meeting in person. But not all, and not all at the same time. It depended on many different factors, including state mandates, type of activity, comfort levels, and COVID infection rates, to name just a few. And some organizations, whose events drew attendees from far away when they were able to participate online, don’t want to lose those long-distance attendees when they go back to live events, so they’re developing programs with both onsite and online options.

The trick now is figuring out and remembering which is which.

I admit freely that over the past year, I’ve made a few mistakes due to misreading or miscalculating times and time zones. And I’ve already had to juggle a few plans and programs as they started being switched from online to on-site. I also had a recent meeting that found me digging through notes and emails to confirm that it was an in-person meeting instead of on Zoom. My fear was – and still is – that at some point I will find myself standing in front of a locked door when I’m supposed to be in front of my computer. Or I’ll be trying to log in to a meeting for which everybody else is sitting around a conference room table, waiting patiently for me to show up in person.

That hasn’t happened yet, and I’ll try really hard to make sure it doesn’t. But until the whole world has opened up again, I should probably get in the habit of making an extra notation for meetings and events when I log them in to my calendar. Perhaps a “Z” or “IP,” to indicate whether the meeting is via Zoom or in-person. Or maybe an “H” or “T,” so I know whether it’s here – meaning at home – or there. Or an “L” or “M,” so I’ll never find myself wondering: “Is it live, or is it Memorex?”

June 13, 2021
©Betty Liedtke, 2021

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