Friday, June 25, 2004

Work Diaries (4): what the hell?!

I remember when I got my first job in Tunisia, which lasted for 1 month only –thank God- I had so little things to do. Because others didn’t want to teach me things so that I wont replace them, on one hand, and because the whole work was going through a difficult stage on the other hand. Anyway, one day my direct manager comes to me with a BIIIIG smile on his face. Back then I didn’t know that when this person in particular has a smile, then it means: “a disaster is coming your way”, and I wasn’t aware that the bigger the smile, the bigger the disaster…
Anyway, he goes like: I heard you speak German, are you good at it?
I: I believe I am.
He: So you speak it, you write it and you’re like capable of translating?
I: yes, sure I can translate.
(he shows me a folder with around 50 pages or so)
He: See this?
(I get so excited that finally I’ll be getting some work to prove my skills and be busy, more than that it’s something I love, it’s translation)
I: Yes, you want me to translate these?
He: Yep, INTO FRENCH!
(I was SHOCKED, I thought he was definitely crazy)
Then he simply left without even caring to hear what I have to say. So I went to his office…
I: Sir, I guess you gave me the wrong papers, I can’t translate into French, I only have basic knowledge in it.
He: Maybe you don’t know coz you’re new, I DO NOT MAKE MISTAKES!
I: Then what do you call that?
He: I call it W O R K.
I: Sorry but you know since I was hired for my Arabic & Ebglish not for French. You knew that my French is not that good. And actually you were asking me about my German, can you please explain what’s going wrong in here?
He: You being here arguing with me over work you MUST do is the wrong thing.
I: I’m afraid you didn’t get my point, I can’t translate all these official documents into French!!
He: There are dictionaries upstairs.
I: So you don’t care how would these important documents turn out when you give them to the people concerned. Or maybe you’ll just blame the bad results on me!!
He: All I care about is to have these documents translated… How? Not my problem. What would the impressions be? None of your business.

If I didn’t need that job, I would’ve turned around and quit right away, but I thought of it and decided not to let that loser ruin my career. Now if I don’t do this and complain to the head manager instead, then I wont win anything coz I was hired 1 week ago. And if I do the work and hand it out with all these mistakes I’ll be taking a huge responsibility and might get fired coz I didn’t explain. So I went upstairs, got around 4 dictionaries, each specialized in the professional expressions, official terms and definitions, each dictionary of a certain field. I translated them alone, and after I was done, I enclosed a paper in the end saying it was my work under my direct manager’s supervision.
Then I emailed the head manager and all those who are possibly getting these documents explaining I was forced to do this, though I didn’t know good French, and that I clear my responsibility.
I didn’t get any reaction whatsoever, but at least I didn’t have to do translation into French for official documents again ;)