Sign Language interpreters work in very different settings from cradle to the grave. This is a true story of one interpreter:
I had promised to go and interpret at a funeral. I knew the chapel where the memorial service and the place where the memorial would be held. Or at least I thought so. I arrived well in advance at the church of a rural municipality.
After a while I started to wonder where all the funeral guests and my client were. After a quick check I realized that the memorial service would be held in the centre of a bigger town, not in the rural municipality where I was, some 40 km from the town! I jumped in my car and tried desperately to send an SMS to the client and some of my colleagues to go to the right place until I would get there.
All failed. I drove like crazy toward the chapel with a lump in my throat. When I arrived at the chapel the funeral had already started. I got there anyhow just in time for my client to read the memorial words. And that was actually all I interpreted. Luckily the client understood my mistake.
Next it was time to go to the memorial lunch which was held in the village where I had been half an hour before. I agreed with the client and her relative I would follow them by car. Everything went well the first three traffic lights but after that I got stuck in the lights while they drove their way. I didnt lose my hope yet because I thought there couldnt be that many memorial houses in the village so I was confident to find it.
Well, after driving crisscross on small forest ways for 1.5 hours I was ready to give up. I was planning to drive to the first yard, turn my car and drive home. And send a message to the client telling I couldn’t find the place. It was easier to say than to do. I had just turned to a yard and ready to turn around when my car started to roll from the icy yard to the ditch. There we were nose towards the sky – me and my car.
I didnt have a choice but to walk to the house to ask for help. After explaining my situation the householder told me that the memorial place was next door and that he could take me there. He offered also to pull my car with a tractor after the memorial.
When I finally arrived in the memorial place and regretted being late, the client acted as if nothing had happened. She had had time to eat and the speeches started first when I arrived. After the memorial my client left with her boyfriend by taxi. I wanted to give proof of my story and told my client to have a look in the neighbors ditch where my car still was.
After a while the neighbor came to pull my car from the ditch. I saw how the car emerged from the ditch like a venus from the sea and I was about to let a sigh of relief when the pulling rope got loose from the trailer hitch and the car slid back to the ditch. This time it hit the one and only pine tree, causing a big dent on the hood. That was the moment when I lost the last spark of hope. On the second try the car pulled out successfully from the yard and it even stayed there.
I drove home and cried. But what was the lesson?
a) I should always find out the interpreting locations beforehand.
b) I should always call up a proper tow truck
c) I should never accept a funeral assignment anymore (its not worthwhile to battle against greater forces – and an insurance company).
If I should find something positive in this case, it is that the client was all the time happy with the interpretition service she got – even the little of it. I suppose its all about choosing the right career.