So, dealing with telephone interpreters is always fun, because you’re taking a difficult concept (explaining something to someone over the telephone) and introducing a third party and a language barrier into the middle of it. Today, I got to work with my first sign-language interpreter over the telephone, which was a whole new world. Sign language interpreters interpret not only the words but also the emotion behind the words, so I found myself talking to one pissed-off client and the interpreter was trying rather dramatically to get the client’s point across without actually screaming at me while indicating vocally that the client was indeed screaming.
About half-way through the conversation I realized that not only was the client elderly, but he was also having trouble focusing on the conversation and was more than a little bit confused and was probably almost definitely somewhere along the steep and terrifying road of Alzheimer’s. And suddenly, I just wanted to push the interpreter out of the way and reach through the telephone and just hold him close and whisper to him over and over that everything is going to be alright, even though it probably isn’t and even though he probably can’t hear me.