There was a time when I was young. OK, not quite young, but younger, it was Christmas 2005, and I was 58 years old. The grey hair had arrived, but believe me the brain cells were still working, And so we had our annual Christmas party in the company where I worked, complete with speeches about how the company name was becoming known in the world and how good we were, blah, blah, blah.
It came to pass that our english representation were on a visit and were naturally included in the celebrations in the local village hall, complete with food and drink and a long, long, speech by our general director. Unfortunately his speech was in German and the english guys did not understand German. As known, most english only speak english. It was decided that a simultaneous tranlsation, over headphones and microphone, would be the ideal solution, and I was the chosen victim. I had the time apparently and so there I was sitting on a table on my own, a united nations lookalike official translater ready for the task ahead of me. Could I do it? No-one really asked, it was assumed. I knew the english guys, nice blokes, and they thought this would be fun. They were sitting at the front naturally, I was at the back.
I did a trial through the microphone “1, 2, 3, 4, 5 – can you hear me” – no reaction. I walked over to them and asked and they said “no” and both giggled: typical english humour and I was near to a nervous breakdown. I requested notes of the speech in advance from my direct boss, but was told they do not exist. I had no idea what No. 1 director would be saying, this was really simultaneous, thrown into deep simultaneous waters from the beginning. The speech began and so did I. I am a great talker, love to hear the sound of my own voice, but this was completely different. I had to keep up with what the boss was saying and did not know what would be coming. It was all statistics and events etc. etc. After an hour it was over. The english guys gave me friendly smiles and laughter and afterwards indulged in the drink and food. I still do not know today if they were really listening to what I was saying.
Eventually it was a successful evening. I won 1,000 Swiss Francs for suggstion of the year. Everyone makes suggestions during the year and on this evening they are put in a hat or whatever and three are picked for the first, second and third prize. Mine was chosen for the lst prize. Some compensation for my nerve wrecking job at the beginning of the evening. I decided I made a good choice when I decided not to apply at the United Nations for the job of a translator.