My interpreting teammate, “Wanda,” kinda upset me today. There are object lessons all the way around! First, I should’ve spoken up but was in some kinda ‘mood’, so I didn’t. Second, I could have trusted that the universe would ‘get even’ with or without my assistance, but by then I was fuming . Third, none of it mattered anyway – at least not in the grand scheme of things.
What happened? (Sounds kinda dramatic, doesn’t it?!) I was waylaid en route to the job by one of the leaders (not deaf) telling me about a videotape to be shown that my team interpreter had suggested we could take turns viewing in advance (during the job). I inquired about some of the particulars. Audio challenges, of various sorts. Yeah, a preview would help, but was it necessary? Of course, she was just trying to be responsive to previous feedback that it is really helpful for interpreters to be able to preview uncaptioned videos.
Then I entered the room and Wanda told me the same thing. There was a video and we should take turns previewing it.
I was annoyed.
Why was I annoyed? Who knows. Maybe I thought they’d wrested control away from me, or made decisions without my input. Or maybe I was just in a grouchy mood and was looking for something to be pissy about? At any rate, I was disgruntled but tried to put a good face on things. After all, it was a gorgeous early spring day and everyone else seemed in fine spirits! Who was I to put a damper on things? “I’ll just go along,” I said to myself. “Don’t make waves.”
“Do you want watch it first or…”, my voice trailed off. “You can,” Wanda states (definitively, in my view. There goes my attitude up another notch!) I wheel the tv/video cart into the next room, plug in and settle down for 28 minutes of viewing pleasure. At least it is a good video. I won’t mind watching it twice in short succession. I return to the meeting room and relieve Wanda. Who sits down with the obvious intention of not going to watch the video! “What the…?!???”
I sign an aside during a lull in the interpretation. “Are you going to watch the video?” “Yes, I will,” Wanda says. Going nowhere. Do I have a bug up my butt or what?!!! Soon, the leaders discuss the course of events….finish this, watch the video, do something else. “Can you take over?” I ask, steaming. Because obviously now there’s no time for equal prep and I’m going to have to do the whole thing. Hmmph!
And so it goes. Wanda interprets until the short break before the video, at which time she’s ready to dash off to watch the first ten minutes or so. I told her not to bother. My attitude is s-h-o-w-i-n-g! and I know it, so I confess, I’m annoyed that you’d made this plan without consulting me to begin with and then changed it and I didn’t know what the heck was going on….blah blah whine complain.
Turns out Wanda has had her own stress! I go out to view the video and the meeting begins with a dense exposition of material that is extremely challenging to understand without supplementary context. One of those we-all-know-what-we’re-talking-about-and-you-don’t kind of coded conversations. Wanda panicked because I’m not there to provide feeds and moral support. (“Serves her right,” I mutter.) No, I didn’t really. LATER we laughed about it together, but in the moment we had to just carry on. She suffered through mis/non/incomprehension while I scowled at a tv screen. (Vindication? Apparently the prep did improve the eventual interpretation of the video – and I guess my disgruntlement didn’t show.)
The real rub? It wasn’t even Wanda’s idea to do the previewing! She went along with a suggestion by the group leader! So both of us were duped into a set-up that didn’t work for either of us (and hence, not at peak efficiency for the group using our services).
Two lessons. REAL previewing of videos is still a way good idea. Which does require planning and coordination.
Noting those scritchy feelings when they come up is good professional practice. Better practice is being able to somehow figure out what the scritchiness is about and resolve the situation before it leads to ulcers and other communication debacles.