There is a first time for everything. A couple of weeks ago I arrived at a conference venue (I was booked for “simultaneous interpreting”) and was presented with a weird construction:
The gentleman representing the conference equipment supply operating on this occasion explained to me that this was a so-called “table-top interpreting booth”. Huh? The event is supposed to start in 30 minutes, the organising interpreter is not present and cannot be reached over the telephone – so I resign myself to my fate.
They had taken one of the conference tables, embellished it with a tablecloth, installed two interpreters’ switchboards, added headsets, put the superstructure on top…and the “interpreting booth” is ready, isn’t it?
No, it isn’t! As you see on the picture, the whole construction is quite flimsy. There are no lateral windows; it feels like working in a tunnel. Whenever the interpreter stands up, she has to be careful not to bang her head. And the most important flaw: this thing is anything but soundproof. Some of the participants were sitting very close to the “booth” (see photograph) and were forced to hear to the interpreters’ voices all day long.
Anyway, the box did not tumble, no water glass was knocked over on the crinkled tablecloth, nobody complained – however, these did not even come close to good working conditions. Surely a “real” interpreting booth couldn’t have come at a much higher price.
l put this assignment down to experience, hoping that it was my first and last job with the “Punch and Judy Show”!