Transcriber, Travel Agent & Volunteer-in-Progress

It's been ages since I posted something real--not a list, not a column of snapshots, not a panic-stricken warning. Naturally I'm presently swamped by everything, all at once: work is picking up, my parents have appointed me their personal travel agent (because "you're good at these things"), and I'm slowly finding my way down this young, uncertain path of volunteerism.

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!

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Oooh, can I come to the Oxfam meeting?

And, I just tagged you for a cookbook meme.


from Lynn

6/22/2005 08:52:00 PM  

Yay! It's nice to have the "real" you back. :-) Your parents sound totally sweet. Any chance they would like to come visit Germany some day? And way to go on the volunteerism. It sounds like you have totally found your niche. You go, girl! I think the blog will really catch on.  

from Jessica

6/23/2005 12:37:00 AM  

P.S: Is there something weird going on with your comments? I had to go over to "recent comments" to get to the comment-box. Maybe it's just my ineptitude, though. :-)

6/23/2005 12:38:00 AM  

Lynn, of course, come!
Man you have got to stop tagging me for these memes. I don't seem to ever be the right candidate for memes.

Hi Jessica, are you crazy? Which part of my post made you think my parents are "totally sweet?" You're just one of those weird nice people who sees the good in everyone, aren't you?

And thanks so much for pointing out that problem with my comments. No, the ineptitude was entirely mine. I was trying to clean up the look of my blog by getting rid of unnecessary text. But I didn't realize it would be such a pain to find the comments section. So I put it back. 

from Rachel

6/24/2005 02:33:00 AM  

Okay, I now realize that, from my last comment, it sounds like I hate my parents. No, they can be very nice, but just not if you're their travel agent. 

from Rachel

6/24/2005 02:41:00 AM  

I was trying to be sarcastic. :-) Clearly you love them, and clearly I would never want to plan a trip for them! Thanks for putting back comments. I am so lazy!

6/24/2005 05:24:00 AM  

Oh, thank god. See, I knew you weren't a crazy girl. But you *are* a nice girl, which is why I didn't pick up on the sarcasm.

Jess...sarcastic? Whaaaa?!

from Rachel

6/26/2005 12:42:00 PM  

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