Charmers

Jan. 5th, 2017 10:12 pm
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Translators like me work mostly from internet contacts, which means we can have clients across the world. I have a link with an agency in the Palestinian Territory, no less, with whom I haven't done a lot of work - and the story that happened today will tell you why.

Morning, I get an urgent request for revision for a death certificate. The job is easy, and the certificate tells a heartbreaking story - a girl of twelve, dead in a foreign country, probably in a holiday, from what sounds like an undiagnosed brain aneurism. The fee offered is tiny but adequate, if hardly generous. It's easy work, and I do the best I can - because I always do, and because in this case I am moved.

A few hours later I get another e-mail from the same source. Another bit of the job needs doing fast, the consul is waiting, the body needs to be released. I open the attachment - and immediately fire off a response.

"Are you having me on? This is not a bit of additional revision, this is the translation of a whole, sizeable, official letter. This is a full new job and I will charge for it separately and at my minimum rate."

Immediate answer. Sorry and all, it was a mistake, it IS a separate job - offered at a fee two-thirds of what I'd required.

Me: sorry, but that was my absolute minimum, and I've already done you a favour by reckoning it in dollars instead of British pounds.

I did not hear from them again.
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