I have restarted my old – ten years, now – transcription job, and hooray for that. It’s not a full-time salary and doesn’t provide benefits, but otherwise it’s very, very hard for me to find any complaints about it. I work from home, with assigned deadlines but I can choose which projects I take based on their length and due date. I get paid by the page rather than by the hour, with is very important in a house where the children find “five minutes peace” to be an entirely alien concept. I never lose track of the number that Microsoft Word shows me, but time? Loses its track in a continuous loop.
So, I’m grateful, both to be earning something and to be considered good enough by somebody to rehire. (Are you reading this, former boss? Horrid individual, I wouldn’t go back now if you asked, truly.) And the transcription is (almost) always interesting; so wildly varied in topic that I couldn’t encompass them with simple descriptors. University conferences, medical interviews, legal roundtable discussions, interviews in back alleys with impoverished, non-white, HIV-positive, homeless prostitutes who are also mothers, professional bass fishermen, et cetera. The very rare one I find difficult to do, either because of the sound quality or it’s so boring I’m risking serious damage to my keyboard, what with all the head-bobs.
But it doesn’t make me any smarter, apparently. My typing speed is still not back to what it once was, though I would estimate I’m back up to about 120 wpm. I had thought I was at 130 before, but in looking at the amounts of time it took me to type a rare uninterrupted file, it looks like it was more like 150 wpm. Ah, well, there’s time, and I’m not exactly stuck in the hunt-and-peck lane on this particular information highway, so, to quote the great orator Winston Churchill, “Whatev.”
What’s that? You need proof? Well, does the fact that I knew precisely how much typing I had left to do all day yesterday, and yet decided to add a 20-minute reading break and then a 4-hour visit with Gretchen into the day’s events, help? No? Yeah, to me, either, because both were, in their different ways, sanity-restoring and even fun. Even though, by the end of Gretchen’s visit, I had gotten so tired that I could feel my eyes going unfocused, due to way not enough sleep the night prior, I don’t regret a moment of it.
But never fear, I have more tangible proof: because I was so tired then, I went to bed right after she left, and set my alarm clock for 4:04a. I don’t think it’s right that alarm clocks even agree to set at such hours, but mine did. And, like a good little soldier, I popped up at 4:04, not having been previously sure if I was going to get up and type or roll over, whimper, and then get up and send a debasement email to my manager. Was in full-on typing mode by 4:30, though – how strange is this? – somehow my auditory acuity is less precise when I’m that tired. My words per minute suffered. A lot. After the first of two files, I went back to bed for an hour and a half, just to try and recharge. I could happily have slept until noon. But, no, like the good little worker bee I am, I got right back up at 9:00ish, and finally finished with everything just after noon. Amen.
What, that’s not stupid enough? Allowing myself only 4 hours of broken sleep in order to work a job that no one’s life depends on? OK, then.
I also had random giggling fits about once a page, as I plugged away. If you have never seen Young Frankenstein, please stop reading this right now, rush out, and watch it. I’ll wait.
Did you like it? You really almost have to; it’s not hysterical-snorting-funny, but it is ever so quotable.
OK, then. On this last interview I did, it’s a woman with a European accent – I can’t hear well enough to narrow it down more than that – interviewing a physician. At least once a minute, she waits for his answer, and then says, “Oh, thank you, Doctor!” in precisely the same tone that Teri Garr uses.
I like this job, but it is rare that moments of true awesomeness recur during one interview.
How about this: When I changed over to the new file, I promptly discovered reason to dredge up an instant panic attack. I pressed down on my little footpedal – looks just like it belongs to a sewing machine, but allows me to control the sound with the power of my foot – and no sound. I press again, no sound. I check the sound-playing file, it’s showing me that it’s playing. I check the volume button, it says nothing is muted. But this file went from perfectly clear before I got up to stretch, and was completely silent afterward.
It is truly embarrassing how long it took me to figure out that the headphones were lying on the table, and not on my ears.