Transcriber, Travel Agent & Volunteer-in-Progress
Work needs no explanation, although it's rather grueling at the moment because I'm transcribing a speech by a French man with a really bad stutter, and the client insists they want it verbatim, which means I'm not allowed to edit anything--not even to smoothen the flow of text. Not even if I know how to make a passage make sense. Sigh. I also feel like a bit of a jerk for focusing so hard on all the parts where the speaker has a real tough time getting the right sounds out. Sometimes, with the touch of the foot pedal, I make the poor man choke and trip over the same words over and over again. I've never realized how tortured a stutter can sound and I wonder at the mean person who asked this guy to present something at the last minute. I imagine the speaker is nervous and that is what is causing him to fight so hard against his own lips and tongue. Am I being grossly condescending? It's possible he had a good time. Might a person with a stutter enjoy public speaking?
Mom and dad commandeering my services is another matter. My parents are two seemingly nice people who have left a string of broken travel agents in their wake. I've read faxes and emails from these poor traumatized women, where words such as "desperate," "confused," and "lost" peppered the pages like drops of blood. It's difficult to convey just how breezily destructive my mom and dad can be to one's mental equilibrium, without you all brushing me off, assuming I'm being my usual melodramatic self. Or worse, somebody thinking, "Oh, everybody's parents are like that." No, I say, no.
I won't ply you with the minutiae. That wouldn't be kind or interesting. Just maddening. But suffice it to say, I've been witnessing many a hazy sunrise in my peripheral vision, while hunched over the computer, driven by the running requests and urgent itinerary changes that have been laying siege to my email account for weeks. I now think of cities not by their names but their airport codes. I'm learning that almost all English travel-related sites are exclusively for people holding US credit cards (To all those sites: Do you not WANT my business? Well screw you. I hope you soon discover with abject horror just how much business you're losing by refusing money from the rest of the world, particularly my part of the world!). And I actually forgot to reply my boss because her email was pushed to the back of the shelf, so to speak, by a flood of messages regarding flights, hotels, car rentals, and activities.
On a happier note, I'm very slowly finding that I can be of some use to Oxfam Japan. Today I sent off my first PR-esque missive, writing to a Japan website about an upcoming Oxfam fundraising event and asking if they would pretty-please mention it in their calendar. I've also decided to create a message board, and possibly a blog, for all the volunteers in the hope that we'll start to feel a little more connected and aware of what everyone's up to. I believe we need to create a stronger feeling of community, where we can get involved with each other's projects, or simply offer encouragement and suggestions. I'm also thinking that a blog would give a more human, approachable voice to a large entity like Oxfam, especially for non-volunteers, people wishing to know more.
But first I have to get the volunteers to all agree to participate or it will be a very barren message board/blog indeed. We're going to have a meeting this Tuesday, so I'll present my case then. Wish me luck!