I never planned to be a court reporter, at least not until I was grown and had children. I had thought about being a nurse as a little girl, an opera singer as a big one, and a wife and mother until my marriage was clearly dying. Actually, I think it probably was DOA – dead on arrival.
But circumstances being what they were, in September of ’92 I began court reporting school, I passed my state certification in April of 1995, I graduated in May of 1995, and I began work in June of 1995.
Some reporters love their work. I describe my feelings as “I hate it less now than I used to.” There are, actually, days when I do love my job, but that usually involves lots of attorneys (only two of whom ever speak, of course) all of whom order the transcript, and nice, slow testimony for hours and hours – all of which translates into easy money.
Too often the reality is excited, nervous deponents and young attorneys who haven’t learned to suck up to the court reporter by speaking slow enough that the reporter can UNDERSTAND what they’re saying, let alone have time to actually write it down. I love the “senior” attorneys who still address me as “Madam Court Reporter” and who are careful to make a good record, who provide me with spellings of odd names, who don’t say “It’s important that only one of us speak at a time” and then proceed to interrupt every answer with another question at about 3000 words per minute..
But what I do enjoy about my job is the education I get. It’s made me a little dangerous. Or maybe a little potentially obnoxious. For example, I know a lot about the things doctors look for to suggest that a patient isn’t being completely honest about their injuries. I don’t know enough about Waddell signs to know how to manipulate them; I just know enough to realize that it’s probably not a good idea for me to fake injuries or be a malingerer.
I know way too much about various common medical ailments and injuries to blindly listen to a doctor, with my eyes wide, who’s telling me that “No, there is no anatomical or organic cause for your pain; let’s send you for pain management” and blithely head down the road to Dr. Dealswithpain.
When I worked in Yakima, I did quite a number of Spanish/English interpreted depositions. I will never claim to speak Spanish, but I got to where I knew just enough to sometimes catch myself writing the deponent’s answer before it was translated into English. I wore out my “erase” key a lot that way.
I’ve learned about construction, engineering, wind farms, medicine, vocational rehabilitiation, physical therapy, massage therapy, and why it’s not good to hang your wife up with an electrical cord and light a fire so you can cut her up into pieces with a chainsaw and burn the body parts.
I’ve learned that you shouldn’t coach your little boy to lie under oath, especially not about his sister who died a horrific death. That still haunts me.
A couple of weeks ago I learned all I will ever want to know about cardioelectrophysiology. If you can’t pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t enter the field. Surprisingly, I was familiar with all the words themselves, if not their meaning within this particular context.
But as of this week, should I ever need to be anesthetized (again), I have now learned the following: The anesthesiologist will be checking to determine my Mallampati classification and my thyromental distance. I know the various ways I can be knocked out (none of them include acts of domestic violence, oddly enough) and I know the various ways of ventilating a patient. I know that I do NOT want a cricothyrotomy. Just let me breathe through the air holes in my head, okay? I have it on great authority that they are in great supply.
In short (or long), dont’ try to tell me about your neighbor’s refusal to move his fence line two feet to the right, because I’ll probably tell you that I have no sympathy for you, that I have far more sympathy for the “poor” woman who could only get the beautiful classic car in the divorce by agreeing to give her soon-to-be-ex custody of their son. Divorce can be SO trying, can’t it…