Interpret for four and a half hours alone? If I’m alone, I don’t even want to do something that feels good for over two hours.
Hi everyone! Uncle Dale here… maybe. I mean maybe I’m here… but maybe not. That will be clear in a minute. Maybe not “clear.” Clearer? We will go with that.
Much like my Note called “Enjoy the Little Things” this Note is only somewhat related to interpreting. It mentions the word. I would say it’s worth your time… but I don’t know your billable hours.
Anyway. Just for fun! In the 1980s there was a critically acclaimed tv show called “St. Elsewhere.” It was a hospital drama; think ER/Gray’s Anatomy. St. Elsewhere is famous for its cutting edge storytelling but also for its final episode where, in the final shot, the camera pans out showing a snow storm and we see that the entire hospital is actual a snow globe being held by Tommy Westphall, a boy with Autism who is the son of one of the doctors. But we also find out Tommy’s father is not a doctor, he is a construction worker, suggesting that the whole show took place in Tommy’s mind. (Yep! Lost and The Sopranos did not invent the “whaaa?” ending).
So, here is the conundrum. If the whole show happened in the mind of a boy with Autism named Tommy Westphall–then if any characters from another show crossed over into St. Elsewhere’s universe they and their show must also have just happened in the mind of Tommy Westphall.
This happened, a lot.
Two doctors who identified themselves from being from St. Elsewhere spoke to Carla on an episode of Cheers. Bang. Cheers happened in Tommy’s mind.
Thus if characters (not actors, the actual characters they played) from Cheers crossed over to another show then THAT show, by extension, was in the head of Tommy Westphall. Mapping this out people have connected over 400 shows from Andy Griffith to the Wire to Veronica Mars, to X-Files to Red Dwarf as “logically” occurring in the mind of Tommy Westphall. There is the set up.
Years ago I was an extra on show called Promised Land where I “played” an interpreter. I was uncredited, but the call list identified my character as me, “Dale the Interpreter.” Promised Land was a spin off of Touched By an Angel which had a crossover with X-Files which had a crossover with Law and Order which had a crossover with Homicide Life on the Streets which had two characters cross over from St. Elsewhere (after St. Elsewhere was already cancelled) which means…
I only exist in the mind of Tommy Westphall.
And by extension because you know me… you only exist in his mind too!
So, you ask, Uncle Dale who are you… I mean in relation to the Deaf Community.
Good question. I can only answer for me and certainly not for the Deaf Community.
As I see me, I am a facilitator of communication. I can be an ally, when it is appropriate (sometimes it’s not-sometimes what I see as ally behavior is actually Audism. All of my passion and experience and fluency does not save me from the things my hearing privilege hides from me).
Sometimes… sometimes I am a necessary evil (mental health treatment should not be interpreted–it should only happen directly in the language of the person needing therapy-oh and education. But this is not the world in which we live).
I am not the savior of the Deaf Community. I’m the hired help.
I always remind myself that the Deaf Community was resisting Audism before I got here and will still be fighting long after I’m gone.
I am not needed. What is needed is the work I do. The work I do is needed and always appreciated, but sometimes the appreciation is… grudging; and that is fine. The Deaf Community does not need to love me AND THAT IS FINE. I don’t have any say about how the Deaf Community should or should not feel about anything. I can only make observations on what I see.
There is a level of ambivalence that always seems to exist between me and the community I love and serve. I exist in world where my work is greeted with appreciation and frustration at the same time.
Why? Well. I think of it this way. Imagine that, in order to breathe, you must employ the services of a person who touches the end of your nose-a certified nose toucher.
Now, it may not be that you can’t breathe, but in order to breathe effectively, and specifically at times of stress or when breathing effectively is vital, the services of a professional, certified “nose toucher” is needed (can’t do it for yourself, oh and you have horrible memories of the education system trying to teach you to touch your nose with your elbow, and everyone seems to have a suggestion of installing dubious microchips in your nose, but I digress).
So how would you feel toward the “nose toucher?” You would of course appreciate the “nose toucher” each and every time you took a clear and effective breath. But, you would also resent the fact that you had to depend on this other person for something so basic as breathing.
You would surely be angry each time someone talked to the “nose toucher” instead of you, as if you were unable to think instead of breathe.
Out of necessity you spend time with your “nose toucher,” and so you develop “a relationship,” sometimes beyond the realm of “nose touching,” maybe even friendship. But, that can lead to problems of its own. Line between friend and professional can be dangerous if it’s blurry.
Of course sometimes you will be assigned a “nose toucher” that you just do not like. That’s a whole new level of frustration.
In the end no matter how much you appreciate the work of the professional, certified, “nose toucher” and even despite perhaps liking some of the “nose touchers,” they are people you must be with, not people you choose to be with. Every time they do their job you are grateful for it and also reminded of the fact that you are dependent on them. Appreciation and frustration. Sometimes you just want to go into the bathroom all alone and just choke. Sometimes you would rather just choke.
This is the way I imagine it, but I may be way off. Even if I’m deaf on ambivalence does not diminish the importance of what I do or my love of doing it. It just keeps my head in the right place so I can do it effectively.
Who am I in relation to the Deaf Community? I am as helpful as I can be, as often as I can be. Nothing more nothing less.
Never pass up a chance to pee.
Getting on your bad side should take a strong work ethic.
We all know THAT interpreter. You know the one who… I mean… you know who ALWAYS…. just… arguh…
Yeah. Don’t be THAT interpreter.
ASL fluency does not inoculate for hearing privilege.