In order to perform in the best conditions, interpreters have always put forward one essential requirement, the need for our clients to provide a copy of the documents that are going to be used by the speakers, or at least to provide some reference documents, in order for us to spend some (unpaid) time preparing those docs in advance.
This is a requirement that is increasingly overlooked these days, by many clients and intermediaries.
When that happens, it’s the team leader’s duty to put his/her neck out and pester individual speakers to allow us to copy their powerpoints to a USB memory card and our laptops – at the very last minute. For that reason, I now carry mine everywhere.
I was team leader last week. It worked with one speaker. When I asked the organizer why we didn’t get anything in advance, or… even at the last second, she was very gracious about it: “I know, I know, it’s difficult to get them. But you don’t really need them, you are so good!”
OK, that’s how they work in that industry. Everything is done at the last minute. People finalize their presentations the night before, after dinner. It doesn’t make any sense anyway to send us anything around midnight. And because this is someone else’s client, it’s a tricky situation. I get on well with the end client, they like us, so kicking up a fuss is out of the question. But it’s our neurons that get destroyed, after all.
OK, we are adaptable, and we do the job. And we do it well. Seriously. But I spent the whole of Saturday recovering, in a kind of haze. I have my experience, and my endurance, and my glossaries. Still.
For this week’s meeting (another industry), I already have a list of documents. Most of the documents were e-mailed to us on Friday. It’s reassuring for both parties. They know that we won’t arrive unprepared – unless we want to commit mental and commercial suicide. It’s also a sign that they are taking their own meetings seriously. They consider us to be in the loop, somehow.