Waywithwords interview transcribers to get a deeper insight into exactly what it means to be a transcriber.
I was 60 years old and trying to learn a whole new skill. But boy I love the job, and I personally don’t know any of my friends who could do it.
Where do I begin? Ah now I remember! From a little girl the only job I wanted to do was look after children! I did that job in many and various guises, in both the UK and South Africa where we emigrated to in 1983, including looking after my own three, until the beginning of 2008. By then I had had enough of other people’s crying and spoilt children and wanted to do something from home.
Our children were grown up and had left the nest, my husband was still working. I scoured the Job Mail one day and found nothing. The next day I scoured it again and saw a VERY small ad for a transcriber. I didn’t even know really what a transcriber did. I had NEVER typed, had very little computer knowledge but had a good grounding of the English language, could spell and was fascinated by the ad. I applied knowing that I had no idea if I could do the job.
When I got the 13 or 14 correct/incorrect statements, I answered them and checked and double checked, even sent them to a friend to check that I had not missed something. I had been told I could only apply once and if I made a mistake that was IT!! I was overconfident and was sure I would get in, and I did. Wendy Morgan, as she was then, helped me along, I never wanted to tell her that I didn’t know what I was doing. The first thing to type was the Justin and Britney thing. I had no idea how to even listen to it and took it to a computer guy down the road who put it on a disk for me. But I didn’t know what to do with the disk when I got home, I didn’t know what Word was. By some chance I got it right. I had no foot pedal either then or headphones!! My first three jobs I actually wrote out long hand in a book then typed from that!! I still have the book! I just thought well anyone can press the right keys!
I sweated and wept at my inability to get my head round the computer. I found a school teacher friend who teaches Grade one’s computer literacy and she taught me in the same way, like a kid, and I behaved like a kid when my document suddenly simply went off the screen and I had no clue why or where it was. The best was Wendy giving me instructions over the phone and me nodding and saying yes, yes, and then as soon as she was off the phone I was back to panic mode. I couldn’t bring myself to say I don’t know what you mean. Copy into your browser?? Where was my browser then, and what did it look like, did I have one? Oh was I green and also – you may have guessed – I panic easily. I was 60 years old and trying to learn a whole new skill. But boy I love the job, and I personally don’t know any of my friends who could do it, and after a health scare I wasn’t sure I could either. I typed from a wheelchair with no feeling in my feet! My hubby remodelled the garage into a fabulous office to give me more room and even parks his beloved car outside!
Anyway 5 years later, fully recovered, and I can do it, I have learned SO much. I still go into panic mode when I have really poor sound and millions of [unclears], I simply want to do it right. It has taught me to read differently, listen differently, and notice EVERYTHING. My mind is so sharp, some would say just like my tongue!! I do crosswords, quiz words, love my dictionary and anything to do with words. I can’t add up though. I read and enjoy cooking, and dabble in re-upholstery and soft furnishings. I have become a granny twice, and about to happen again and life is good. Our sons live on the Isle of Man and we go there every couple of years to visit them but would never return to live in the UK. Our daughter married a South African who can’t go and live anywhere else easily thank goodness, so at least we still have her here. So there you are, my journey to this desk and this boss – the computer!