“I’m so not impressed!”

So, yesterday I had an interaction with someone who didn’t mean to, but basically said “Oh you’re a sign language interpreter, how cute!” I remembered a “note” I had written on Facebook (remember Facebook notes?) and went looking for it. Sure enough it’s STILL THERE!!

I wanted to post it here because it truly captures how I feel in general about my profession and the things people say to us. However since 2008 I have been exposed to many comments far worse than what is described here. I think I’ll probably write about them a bit but unless you’re an interpreter you really can’t begin to understand. Hopefully you can laugh with me as if you do.

Enjoy! (warning, it’s slightly angry and ranty) *yes I know ranty isn’t a word spell check, why are you being a douche?*

‘I’m so not impressed’-July 17 2008

So, I think it’s really funny when people ask about what I do. For most people I’m sure it’s simple and goes something like this:

Person A: So what do you do?
Not Me: Oh, I’m in sales.
Person A: Really? That sounds interesting.
Not Me: Yeah it’s ok

This is a nice simple conversation. I think I would enjoy that. My conversation usually goes something like this:

Person A: So what do you do?
Me: I’m a sign language interpreter
Person A: REALLY?? WOW! You must help a lot of people!
Me: Not really.
Person A: No what you do is changing people’s lives!
Me: Uh….only in the sense that a mechanic changes people’s lives.
Person A: HUH?
Me: I provide a service, then charge for the service, much in the same way a mechanic does and for probably the same cost.
Person A: OH…so you get paid for that?

At this time I would like to point out that the original question was “So what do you do?” This usually implies without actually stating that this sentence ends with “…for a living.”)

Me: Yes, I have a degree in interpreting.
Person A: OH WOW! So how many foreign languages do you know?
Me: Well, just the one. American Sign Language.
Person A: Oh, well is that technically a language?

At this point I kind of laugh a little like its no big deal that they just insulted the crap out of me. I want to say “Yes, I have a degree in FAKE LANGUAGE INTERPRETING!”

It’s like once they find out that I can’t interpret any spoken languages and my services are not free, I’m no longer impressive!

So, pardon me while I get on my soap box,

I interpret sign language into spoken english, I also interpret spoken english into sign language. They have two completely different grammatical structures, there are like 800 different styles of signing. I sometimes have to predict what the speaker is going to say even if they are clueless about what they are trying to say. Deaf people sometimes sign furiously fast and sometimes sloppy. They also look at you like you’re stupid if you have to have them repeat something because they were signing so fast and sloppy(not always, it usually happens when you’re on your period and hyper emotional).

Due to the nature of my job and my professional code of ethics, I really can’t go on, but please remember this:
what I do, is a bona fide profession and when you tell me “oh yeah, I know somebody who does that at my church” I hope you realize it’s not usually the SAME THING. They probably learned a few signs from a book and decided they could interpret the WORD OF GOD just fine! You comparing my skills with that “person who does that at your church” makes me envision whipping you with a car antenna!


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: How Rinnie got her groove back « RinnieEats
  2. willpowerthru
    Jul 10, 2012 @ 00:26:15



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