I started my first interpreting class two weeks ago, and boy are we talking about some interesting things!! The name of the class is “Principles of Interpreting” and, as my teacher says, it’s everything about interpreting that doesn’t have to do with ASL. We’ve been dealing with dress codes, on the job stress, talking about types of interpreting (who knew there were so many?!), and all sorts of other things.
The topic I’m finding most pertinent right now is on the job stress. A few weeks ago, I was in a work-type situation where there were a mixed group of Deaf and Hearing folks. A very Audist gentleman was being a total A$$H*!@ to the Deaf folks, much more so than to any of the hearing. He would spontaneously yell and reprimand people publicly. I even once heard him say “I don’t care about Deaf Culture, I just want you to do it my way.” I was not the interpreter in this situation (thank God!!) but boy was I stressed!! I think the worst thing for me was that this gentleman came into the situation spouting all the right stuff about Deaf Culture and Deaf rights. It wasn’t that he didn’t know better. it was just that, when push came to shove, he didn’t care.I was so stressed one night that – I’ll admit it – I went home and cried.
In class, we’ve been talking about worse situations than the one I experienced, such as being the operator for a 911 VRS call, or having to tell someone in a hospital that their mother just died. I’ve heard all this can wear on an interpreter until the experience what’s called Vicarious Trauma. Don’t worry, I’m not re-thinking my desire to become an interpreter, I’m just thinking about all the tools I’ll need to handle this.
I have never handled stress very well. My usual master plan is to go home and have a good cry, which frankly frightens my husband. Crying is not a good strategy for stress management, at least not for me. But what other tools can I use? I’ll be pondering that as I take the rest of this course. Along with everything else I’m learning.