Let’s admit it. It happens. Even when we plan ahead, not everything goes as planned. To roll the way a professional interpreter should though, we still need to make every effort to be on time.
One important trick to ensure timeliness is to have everything you need ready the evening before so you don’t waste time fumbling around the day of. Here’s a quick checklist:
- OFFICE SUPPLIES. If you’re a lady interpreter like me, you probably have a purse. Get your notebook, pens, badge, water ready the night before so you can just grab and go.
- PRINT OUT YOUR FORMS. Different agencies and facilities have different requirements. Makes sure that you have the interpreter log. You don’t want to complete an assignment only to find out you’re missing the necessary form to log the work. It’s happened to me once and I won’t let it happen again.
- PICK OUT YOUR OUTFIT. Plan out your outfit the night before. You don’t necessarily have to lay them all out, but envision what you’re gonna wear so you don’t waste time staring at the closet trying to decide. Interpreters should wear business clothes.
- GPS. Input the address for your GPS ahead of time so you don’t have to waste time typing it in the day of.
- OFFICE ON-THE-GO. To save time, you can even keep some dress shoes and your blazer in the car.
There are times, however, when even that extra 30 minutes cuts close to my appointment time. Just the other day, my morning phone interpreting appointment lasted longer than expected and I had only 10 minutes to get dressed and rush out of my house, which was a 1.5-hour drive away. I ran around the house like a maniac and drove off, all the while freaking out about being late and how I’m going to explain my tardiness. Thankfully, because I allotted extra time for travel, I still arrived 15 minutes before the appointment. One thing to note is that when we’re traveling there isn’t much we can do about the travel time. At that point, the key thing is to be safe and be as calm as you can. Your cruise control can help with that.
USE YOUR CRUISE CONTROL. When you’re in a rush, the temptation to speed way over the speed limit is high, but this can be a very dangerous and expensive decision. You could get into an accident, or you could get pulled over by a cop. Either of these would not be worth the extra time and money it will cost. When you activate your cruise control, it’ll force you to drive at a safe speed.
Other things to note when you’re running late:
CALL AHEAD. If you know for sure you’re going to be late, call your agency to give them a heads up and they can make the necessary arrangements. If you work directly with a client, then inform them that you will be late. There is nothing worse than a no-show. Being late is bad enough but without any prior notice, the clients may be waiting around for you, wondering if you’ll ever show up. This will decrease your credibility and lessen the chance of them calling you up again.
KEEP CALM. These things happen and we can’t make our travel time go faster than it is. Once you’ve made sure you’re still traveling safely and that you’ve given notice, follow your client’s instructions and try your best to plan better next time.
How do you make sure you get to your appointments on time? I’d love to hear from you.
As always, be safe, have fun, and happy interpreting!