29 Nov The Couch: A Moment of Weakness
The Couch is a place to exchange ideas and brainstorm, not only for its contributors but also for our readers who engage in the ensuing discussions. Sometimes, it feels like your code of ethics and your concern for a person’s well-being can conflict – but is there a conflict? A thank-you goes out to this week’s contributor for the Couch idea.
You are on a two-person interpreting team, and you have a good working relationship with your colleague. She happens to be the one interpreting while an emotionally charged testimony is being given, and you notice, only for a brief moment, a scowl, a wry look, come across her face. Unfortunately for her, it so happens that the defense attorney was looking at her at that very moment. He jumps on it and raises doubt with the Court as to the interpreter’s impartiality. Amazingly, the Court sides with the defense attorney, and your colleague is dismissed.
As she walks out of the room, she looks pleadingly at you, but you are stone cold and, ready to step up to the plate, you don’t take your eyes off the judge. It’s because you know you will be replacing her, and you are worried you will suffer the same fate if you show any emotion yourself.
What should you have done? Would a sympathetic glance have sufficed? A few words, e.g., “I’ll call you after”? How much encouragement or camaraderie would have been “going too far”? You know that the attorney didn’t get your colleague excused from the case out of meanness or spite; he is only trying to win his case. For that very reason, he may use anything in his arsenal that may serve his interests. But your diffident response to your colleague at the time of the incident leaves a pit in your stomach later that evening. What should you have done differently, if anything?
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