Filling out paperwork at 2:23 AM in the emergency room:
Nurse: I’m sorry you have to work so late.
Uncle Dale: (Realizing how both common and odd that is to say) I’m sorry you have to work so late.
Nurse: Well, you know, it’s my job.
UD: Funny you should mention that, it’s mine too.
We both stared at each other for a moment or two and both of us burst out laughing. I have no idea why either one of us thought that was so funny but at 2:30 in the morning it really was!
You know them. You’ve said them. Usually with the same vocal inflection employed by Bob the Tomato when he says, “like butter on a bald monkey.”
Interpreterisms are always best when it is just possible that they are accurate interpretations.
Some of the best I’ve heard:
“It takes a mighty big dog to weigh a ton.” (It was said with such conviction).
(Misunderstanding a local sign for ‘prefer’) “aaaaannnnnd then a squirrel jumped up and bit me on the head?”
“I couldn’t wear the ice cream home or my mother would know I’d been with a boy.”
“It’s a kind of, it’s a thing where, it’s, it’s, it’s a, I don’t know what it is.”
“And then I wondered if I… swallowed the… Er… ate the… soap?”
What are your favorites?
Eventually every interpreter will take one, for the Team. Today it was my turn. You’re welcome. Tomorrow it may be yours. Thank you in advance.
If your team is walking backwards while interpreting for a tour, it is your responsibility to make sure they don’t trip over anything, fall down any stairs or smash into any walls.
I’ve needed to write this Note for a while so it’s about time I did!
In several of my Notes, like Happiness for example, I quote an essay by one of my favorite authors, David Foster Wallace, called This Is Water.
Prior to being an essay Mr. Wallace gave This Is Water as a commencement speech at Kenyon College in 2005. Someone in the audience recorded it and it was traded around like a Grateful Dead bootleg until someone transcribed it and published it.
Now with the magic of YouTube you can find the original recording online.
I cannot begin to explain to you the power of Mr. Wallace’s brief comments on that day in 2005. For me to lack the words to explain is saying something, because words, words I give freely, to both the willing and the resistant. Both intentionally and obliviously I am well known for educating people against their will. But, if I tried to explain why you should take the time to get to know This Is Water any words I chose simply would not match the words already there.
So I will just say this:
It did not change my life, it changed how I chose to understand and interpret the experiences of my life.
Oh, and it made me a better interpreter.
Since I posted my Note called Happiness I have seen that several people reposted just the David Foster Wallace quote on social media. And well they should. That quote is worth sharing.
That is just a few lines from a greater masterwork. There is so much more there!
All that being said, if I haven’t convinced you to read This Is Water, (if you take any number of my classes sooner or later I will make you. Because I’m the teacher and I can) then I will offer you first an appetizer and then the full meal.
The Appetizer: Someone made a short film of a heavily portion of the 2005 original recording at Kenyon College. It is heavily edited but still quite amazing.
I hope watching that entices you sit down to The Full Meal: The full 2005 Speech.
The full meal so very much worth the price of twenty minute of your life.
Both links are captioned fairly accurately.
When you feel so frustrated with the interpreter you’re mentoring that you just want to scream, instead, close your eyes, take a deep breath (in through your nose out your mouth) and remember these words:
“Oh. So this is what my mentor felt like.”