Monday, December 14, 2009

excuse me, but are you a super special secret translator?

Most days I really do believe that I have the best job in the world. Most days.

Today did not happen to be one of those days.

One of my greatest downfalls in my job is lining up a translator for meetings with parents who speak other languages. I am very organized when it comes to making sure everyone on the committee can agree on a place and time to meet. I can get in touch with the parent weeks before, agree on a date, inform everyone involved, send out the paperwork, and get the meeting ready to go, all long in advance of deadlines. Yet there seems to be something broken in my brain when it comes to organizing a translator.

However, about a month ago I was on fire. The meeting was scheduled and so was the translator. I was turning over a new leaf. I would no longer be frantic translator-girl. I would be "Dot every i Lipstick". Although I kept getting that uneasy feeling of "oh no, I need to contact the translator" I was able to calmly tell myself that this time, for the first time ever, I was on top of things.

The meeting was scheduled for last Monday. And the translator, the one I'd lined up almost a month in advance? His car wouldn't start on the way to the meeting. And because these are extremely important meetings that can only happen with super special translators we actually had to tell the parent, through a "level 2 translator" that she'd have to come back another time, we needed a "level 3 translator". Like she cared at all. She wanted to have the meeting, get the best for her daughter, sign some papers, and go on with her life.

Wednesday I called my trusty translator and checked on his car. Jokingly I asked if his car would be able to make it to us on Monday to meet with the parent again. He assured me it would. I know, I know, you can see where this is going. But hindsight is 20/20. And usually we like to use the same translator every time we work with a parent to make the parent comfortable. And what are the chances his car wouldn't start two weeks in a row?



This morning his car wouldn't start again.

This time he let us know almost two hours before so I had time to call everyone on the Spanish translation list, begging for someone to come help me. By the end my messages sounded pathetic,
"Please, sir, I realize this is Monday morning, and you probably are already off to meetings where the case manager scheduled you weeks in advance, but if there is any way, any way at all, you could come to my school and translate for me right now you will save my life. Please, please?"

No takers.

I called language services and demanded that they send someone out. They gave me more names- and none of them could do it either.

I stalked every translator I knew, and every person in the building who might possibly know how to get a hold of a translator.

We called back our original translator and asked we could pick him up. He never called us back.

I tried to get permission to use a level 2 translator. No go.

So, once again, I had to have a level 2 translator call mom and reschedule. And once again, mom remains confused as to why on earth we need a super secret special translator. "I just want help for my daughter" is what she said. This poor woman has waited years to get help for her daughter. And right when she thought the help was coming we continue to pull the rug out from under her- much like Lucy and her football, telling Charlie Brown that this time she wont move the ball.

If I was the mother I'm not sure I'd come back.

The level 2 translator set up a time when the team couldn't be there. But she promised mom that time would work. So then I spent another 30 minutes running from room to room of my school, begging people to switch their meetings, skip classes they have to teach, and offering them food if we can somehow have the meeting at the time the level 2 translator scheduled.

And now, of course, I just have to find a translator for that time.

I have to call back all those people who received sad, pitiful messages from me earlier today and ask them, in an upbeat and professional manner, if they would be willing to come in at another time. Because their idea of a good time is spending an hour or so with a whiny special education teacher.

My husband's company talks a lot about how you add value. Today I did not add value. I burned some calories running all over the school, and I probably woke up some sleeping translators, and annoyed others by filling their inboxes with my pleas, but I did not add value.

This is so not what I signed up for.

1 comment:

Alison said...

I cannot think of anything helpful to say but I am impressed that you are doing everything you can for this student DESPITE the restrictions and obstacles you face!