Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Booth Etiquette for Old Timers

The good folk here at Become an Interpreter! have noticed that there is a lot interest on booth etiquette. Everywere from AIIC to translation websites of ill repute, you will find information on proper booth manners. Most of these articles are geared towards newcomers to the profession. However, the interpreting ninjas that run this website definitely feel that there is a need for a guide to booth etiquette for more seasoned (read: old, geriatric, original gangsta' from Nuremberg) colleagues.

Therefore, without further ado, here is our list of Booth Etiquette for Old Timers:

DON’T go “pfffffff,” sigh loudly, or roll your eyes when your younger colleagues makes a mistake, misses an acronym, or says something that wasn’t to your liking.

DON’T make comments about how young the colleague is. Don’t call him or her a baby, child fit to breastfeed, little one, etc. For women, don’t ask if she’s reached menarche.

DON’T mention that conference that you did in Havana circa 1952, and turn around and ask: “Why, I bet you weren’t even born were you?”

DON’T go shopping for diamonds during lunchtime (true story) or recommend realtors when your youthful colleague mentions she is having roommate issues. Remember, all those lazy Millennials are rolling in debt and live in poverty! Be considerate with their feelings!  (Even if it’s clearly their fault, obviously they only know how to use iPads and are lazy).

DON’T feel threatened when the your Millennial colleague stuffs his or her face, and  your doctor has forced you to follow a strict diet because of that gout. Don’t forget growing boys and girls have healthy appetites!

DON’T look at your colleague’s stilettos and squeal “I USED TO WEAR THOSE ALL THE TIME.” We don’t care, and now you’re wearing Keds anyway.

DON’T feel threatened by our virility and exuberance. We swear we aren’t doing it on purpose!

When younger colleagues express an interest in organizing the profession and defending it, DON’T tell them about the good old days. We know you had it better, we know you grew up in a sellers’ market. Now it’s a buyers’ market and we are stuck with it. So the question is, when it becomes necessary to stand up to clients/management and have a common front, will you stand with us or will you not?

DON’T ask young male colleagues about our sex lives.  We aren’t out bedding every intern we see, despite what you may think. Sexual harassment goes both ways.

DON’T lie to us about working opportunities in one or other domicile, or about which colleague is or isn’t trustworthy. We will end up learning the truth.

DO offer to start the first half-hour. We are very likely to be peeing our pants during that first ministerial meeting.  Please be nice and let us learn from your performance. You are the best teachers we have! Provide us with feedback, we want to improve!

DO write down figures and acronyms, as well as share glossaries. On the other hand, your frantic whispers and ugly stares will not make us feel more at ease.

DO be encouraging when we ask about joining professional organizations. Sorry, you can’t run the show forever, and NO, the profession won’t die when you do. Besides, your Geocities website looks like shit.

DO recommend us for contracts. Treating us like sous-merdes will only push us out to the gray market. Moreover, we don’t mind flying economy class to Bali.

DO invite us out to lunch with you during breaks. We’ll put up with those stories about your weird medical problems and your grandkids, since they come peppered with a lot of knowledge and good advice! Besides, no one likes to eat alone.

And since we are interpreters and we like concise reports, phrases and explanations, let’s establish the Golden Rule of Booth Etiquete for Old Timers:

- Thou shalt treat young colleagues the way you would have liked to be treated when you, yourself, were a budding interpreter*.

*And claiming you don’t remember what it was like is not a valid excuse!!!

That’s all of the advice we have for your darling boomer readership. Stay tuned for the follow-up post on Tips for Millennials Working With Ancient Colleagues!


  1. Just stumbled on your blog. All so true! I'm both ancient (over 50) and new (to the profession - corporate downsizing oblige). I hope you manage to have some fun now and then too. Despite all the weirdness, angst and accounting, I don't regret my new field. But I hope your sharp tongue is never directed at me! Yowza!

  2. Great! I loved it! :) I wish it had been around in my days...